Saturday, January 01, 2011

2011: The Year Without Snark

I’ve just about had it with 2010, and now that it’s over with, so much the better!

The year itself didn’t aggravate me. The blistering month long heat wave in summer didn’t do it. The fact that I was injured on the job, became unemployed and don’t have health insurance doesn’t even raise my blood pressure as much as this one thing does. A small outbreak of tornados on New Years Eve about a mile down the road from our neighborhood didn’t even rile me. What truly got my goat this past year were some of my fellow human beings’ lousy, mean-spirited attitudes and how they expressed them publicly.

Consequently, my number one new year’s resolution for 2011 is to ELIMINATE ALL TRACE OF SNARKINESS FROM THE FACE OF THE PLANET.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here are a couple of definitions. From the Urban Dictionary:

Snarky: Critical in a curmudgeonly sort of way.

From David Denby’s book Snark: A Polemic in Seven Fits (Subtitled It’s Mean, It’s Personal, and It’s Ruining Our Conversation), Simon & Schuster, 2009:

Snark attacks individuals, not groups, though it may appeal to a group mentality, depositing a little bit more toxin into already poisoned waters. Snark is a teasing, rug-pulling form of insult that attempts to steal someone’s mojo, erase her cool, annihilate her effectiveness, and it appeals to a knowing audience that shares the contempt of the snarker and therefore understands whatever references he makes. It’s all jeer and josh, a form of bullying that, except at its highest levels, beggars the soul of humor.

Bullying. Jeering. Teasing. Insulting. Contempt. Real positive behavior there, snarkers.

Whether you believe like Denby that the word “snark” originated with Lewis Carroll’s classic nonsense poem, “The Hunting of the Snark”, or it comes from a combination of the words “snide” and “remark”, I hope you agree with me that it’s not a positive form of communication. “Snide remark” pretty much says it all.

I’m tired of all the unnecessary snideness in the world today. It’s mean, it’s low and it doesn’t help people feel any better about their situation when snarkers are trying to score laughter points off their fellow human being’s misery by being sarcastic. I guess the idea of “killing someone with kindness” has transformed itself with “killing someone with verbal abuse.”

Case in point, what did I do to deserve a snarky email response to simply applying for a job? If I’m not qualified or the position is filled, simply say so and can the self-righteous nasty reply. It makes one wonder about the qualifications of an individual working in a human resources department who would go to all this trouble to keep me from ever applying to that firm again. (Don’t worry. If that’s the snarky attitude prevalent there, I won’t.)

Whatever happened to good manners? Are they dead and gone in our society never to be seen again? I don’t think so. I think they’re still out there, cowering in the shadows, afraid of being shot down by the multitude of snarky commentators out there. But those of us who follow Thumper’s Rule (“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say nothing at all.”) I say it’s time to stand up and speak out (politely, of course) against snark and end this plague of negative nincompoops for good.

I realize this is probably an insurmountable task. I know I can’t do it all myself, so I’m asking you to join me on this worthy crusade. Pass the word about the internet via Twitter, Facebook, My Space and What-Have-You-App on your iPhone or Droid and let others know that you, too, are sick and tired of nastiness in tweets, messages, emails, in witty but acid-laced book/theatre/movie/product reviews, hatred expressed in literature or drama as a whole and in the way many think a normal conversation must start with some sort of put-down. To put it simply in Nancy Reagan’s famous parlance: JUST SAY NO TO SNARK.

Look at me—I’m resorting to all capitals to get my point across, a trick I abhor as a copyeditor. It just goes to show how angry I am whenever I encounter snark!

If you agree with me, sign the form below and post it on your bulletin board at work, school, home, church or on a telephone poll on the way to the grocery store. Encourage others to do the same.


I solemnly swear that I will do just that—not swear, or resort to unkind words or the verbal bullying of my fellow Internet inhabitants, my friends, family members, co-workers, strangers or other persons unknown—and that I will do my best to lessen the evil impact of all incidences of snark I encounter by encouraging good manners, constructive criticism and kindness to all parties involved.



Please leave a comment on this blog and tell me what plans or successes you’ve had in this campaign against rudeness. Together we can make this a better world!

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