A View From Elsewhere: Perception, Sarcasm and Other Matters

My last post titled “Are You Sick Of Highly Paid Teachers?” generated quite a bit of buzz. At last count 122 comments on Newsvine.com  [http://tinyurl.com/hue99jl]

Although clearly labeled satire there were those who took the piece at face value and went to great lengths to argue with what they thought the article was saying. Others expended a lot of energy talking about the “privileges” of being a teacher (short hours, 3 months a year off, etc. ) and asserted that teachers need to step up and shoulder their fair share.

Without re-hashing the conversation (you can read all the comments and my replies on my Newsvine page by using the link above) let me just say that, when read as intended, what is offered is a sarcastic title with a Stephen-Colbert-style text that actually DEFENDS teachers and shows what nonsense it is to think that teachers aren’t already shouldering more than their fair share for far less than they ought to be paid.

Sarcasm:  Stating exactly the opposite of what you mean.

Satire: Using humor to show that a point of view or behavior is foolish.

Just recently I’ve seen a number of examples of sarcasm and satire that got interpreted by the viewer as though they were serious statements and a truly surprising misperception of a song lyric that really threw me for a loop.

The focus here is accepting that sometimes the world looks so completely different to the person standing next to you as to be unrecognizable.

The song in question was written by my good friend, singer/songwriter John M.  The title of the song is “My Mother In Me” and is, to most listeners, an ode to his mother listing the many ways John’s mother contributed to what is good and right in his life.

“She taught me how to walk in the light and live by the golden rule

And sometimes how to stand and fight. My momma didn’t raise no fool.

What you see is what you get and if you like what you see

Look a little closer – That’s my Mother in Me.”

Someone took great offense to the song hearing – I know not what or why – that it was an insult to mothers.  (??!?)

(By the way, it’s a great song. Click on over to John’s web site and give it  a listen.)

It seems a great many people these days are looking at what they want to see rather than what is actually in front of them. Others project from within themselves something that isn’t there. Still others, I am told, have a physical brain configuration that makes them incapable of perceiving satire and sarcasm.

How do you talk to someone who is convinced of a reality that your senses and the best evidence available tells you doesn’t exist?  Our perceptions are a result of the long chain of choices we’ve made up to this point in our lives.  To change how you see something requires that you back-track and reassess previously held beliefs.   (Education, by the way, is a big part of how we’ve come to hold our current beliefs. If you have the ability to think critically and analyze your reality rather than just react to it thank a teacher.)

There is an old Jewish saying that goes like this:

“If one man tells you you are a horse ignore him.  If two men tell you you are a horse think about it. If three men tell you you are a horse – buy a saddle.”

4 thoughts on “A View From Elsewhere: Perception, Sarcasm and Other Matters

  1. I think it’s a wee bit sad you have spent so much time trying to explain something that doesn’t warrant explanation. Surely those who missed the point (a) have a right to express their view, [they’re not going to change your position are they?] and (b) perhaps don’t warrant your attempt at correction/re-education? [Maybe they weren’t fortunate enough to have a teacher of your quality and passion and thus developed cynical views under the tutelage of teachers who weren’t?] By the way I think I am generally a ‘shrug and let it go’ person. Keep your passion, Tara- write and sing another song.


    1. Thanks for your comment, kutarere. I do agree one must pick one’s battles and sometimes you have to accept that there are people we cannot reach. But I don’t consider writing this piece a waste of time. It is interesting to me to see how others view the issue. I learn from that. Does this in your view not warrant explanation (as you’ve said above) because it ought to be self-evident? I find that an interesting comment in and of itself.


    1. I did click over to your blog. Glad to know you guys are there with such a wonderful concept! Interesting, well written article. Thanks for the ping-back. You make a number of very valid points and I appreciate the amount of research that went into this piece. I do, however, want to make the distinction between sarcasm that is directed at you personally by an individual – which, I agree, is often snarky – and sarcasm used as commentary in a media piece meant for an audience. When a comic says in public “How did our oil end up under somebody else’s country?” He or she is making a point that might escape the listener if it was said in a less obviously ridiculous manner. There is value in that.

      I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts. And that is NOT meant sarcastically!


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