GateHouse — I have good news today for the edgy people out there, the embittered, the dark, the endarkened, the snarky, the snippy, the snooty, the ensnarkened, the tragically comic, the comically tragic and everyone that I am related to or friends with.
A study recently published by a group of neurophysiologists at the University of California San Francisco (in those rare moments they weren’t hacky-sacking in the quad and drinking PBR) argues that using sarcasm — the ability to make people feel silly if not insignificant in an vain attempt to raise your own self-esteem by tiny, ultimately futile degrees — is not only something that’s fun to use when trying to get out of a conversation with people you can’t stand, but it’s actually a vital evolutionary survival skill.
Yeah. So, to recap: Sarcasm is a basic, essential key to life.
Oh, there‘s something I needed to know. Hey, University of California San Francisco, thanks for spending a couple of thousand bathtubs full of taxpayer money figuring that out. I bet your parents are really super-proud of your extremely important graduate work, and your really expensive degrees. They should totally give you guys a raise, or a shiny new cafeteria, or a new Nerd Room, for all your Nerding.
OK, I kid, but it turns out this study is 100 percent legit, as such things go.
According to university neurophysiologist Katherine Rankin, who I probably would have nothing to talk about over pie, sarcasm — or, as it’s known around my house, talking — is a necessary and vital form of dealing with the pressures and chaos of everyday existence. It’s especially crucial when used in wise conjunction with other popular forms of emotional response to negative stimuli, such as sitting in the dark, listening to Tom Waits, wearing a cape, howling at the moon and sobbing openly with your head on a table after about four consecutive gallons of Jagermeister.
Evidently, at least according to this big-shot “neurophysiologist,” the ability to detect and produce sarcasm comes from a portion of the brain known as the parahippocampal gyrus, which is also the substance that fuels the Millennium Falcon.
People with injuries to what I have just decided is the most crucial part of the human anatomy (yeah, I said it, lungs – your days are numbered!) can lose the ability to detect sarcasm. They don’t react to the use of sarcasm in appropriate ways, which, I have found, usually involves leaving the dinner party or breaking up with me.
It is comforting to know that the occasional unleashing of the bitter, sticky dark side that lurks within my parahippocampal gyrus (which I am repeating to utterly befuddle my spellcheck) – which is frankly the only type of humor I know how to use – is not something that will continue to drive away my friends and family. It’s something that, without which, my ancestors might not have even survived. It pleases me to think that at some distant point in Vrabel family history, there was a loinclothed caveman (with a huge nose) staring down a fierce predator going, “Oh, you call those saber-tooths? Yeah, I mean, I guess, whatever.” And then cocking his head smugly, right before being mauled to pieces.