A few weeks ago my friend Daniel Burka wrote something that continues to resonate with me, a personal essay about endeavouring to be “more wholehearted.” He wrote, in part:
I’m often sarcastic about, well, anything. I frequently err on the critical side of critique in my design career. I smugly make comments about other people’s attire when I’m in the safety of my car. Heck, I’ve tweeted plenty and as we all know Twitter is greased with the bile of cynicism. And when I consciously stop and think about it, it’s almost always totally unnecessary.
I guess I get a short sugar rush of superiority by belittling someone else and cynicism masquerades as cleverness. Also, there’s nothing wrong with criticism when you’re critiquing someone’s work, but it’s so easy and encouraging to point out the positives too. More often than not, sarcasm, criticism, cynicism, and snarkiness stem from either knee-jerk habit or come from a truly destructive place that most of us forget is hiding inside us.
This was, in a sense, only something Daniel could write: I’ve always considered him a master of the witty retort, and it’s never been difficult to imagine him sitting around the Algonquin Round Table drinking scotch with Tallulah Bankhead and making fun of Dwight Eisenhower’s floppy ears.
While I would have no seat at the table – I’m not quick enough of mind – I certainly am no stranger to sarcasm, criticism, cynicism and snarkiness, as regular readers of this space will know.
I’m not quite ready to throw myself wholeheartedly into the wholehearted lifestyle – sarcasm is currency in my family, and I’m not sure how I would communicate with that out of my toolbag – but remembering that, so often, “cynicism masquerades as cleverness” is useful. Thank you, Daniel, for pointing that out.