Snark is the great past time of our age, isn’t it? The Internet seems as though it was built for it. Snide remarks from the sidelines, brilliant volleys of wit across forum battlegrounds, virtual bitch slaps of sarcasm
Some forums have become showrooms for the snark master. Places where the true Snark Artiste go to demonstrate their skill and match wits one against the other. Many of these web sites are more entertaining than anything on television. I’ll admit, I watch. I’m a massive Regretsy fan. Those participants have definitely elevated snark to an art form…
But there’s a time and a place. Or should be, although it would seem few realize it.
Few would seem to have a care for the innocent bystander in these wars. Heaven(s) forbid that someone ask a serious question in a forum that’s supposed to be helpful…
A newbie asks a question. Something simple and innocent, betraying their status as the uninitiated. What offerings to give to a deity, when to give offerings, what their patron has told them, whether or not a book is good…
And the snark begins.
So many internet participants would rather dazzle their allies with their wit and intellectualism. They’d rather spew out their knowledge in bits of hostile repartee than be truly helpful.
It starts with just one snarky comment…and here comes the landslide. One after another, escalating as battles often do, the viciousness of comments becoming more and more severe.
No one even pays attention to the original comment after three or four posts. They’re too busy showing off. The thread dissolves into a pissing contest of wit, sarcasm, and snark.
Yeah, that’s real helpful, there.
The newbie is, predictably, changed for the experience. Either they will never show their face in that forum again, they will never show their face online again, or they become one of the initiated…snarking with all the other snarks in the ocean.
Even when there is no newbie present, there is snark. After all, these people are soooooo tired of newbies asking all these stupid questions!
Again, intellectual posturing. By making a statement like this, the poster is proclaiming to one and all how brilliant s/he is. After all, if they weren’t so bloody brilliant, newbies wouldn’t be bothering them, now would they?
“Look at all my trials and tribulations…” from Jesus Christ Superstar floats through my head every time I see someone write something like that.
It’s all about attention, isn’t it? The Internet…land of Attention Whores…and ego circle-jerks. It’s not just about the Manipulated and the Manipulators…no. Other people, who may be perfectly normal in every other way, go to the Internet for their daily ego fix. They raise theirs by bashing others into the ground.
Of course it’s that way in real life as well. I’ve often found that the old saying “misery loves company” is less about miserable people bonding together and more about miserable people trying to make people miserable…because that makes them feel good. Superior. The problem here is that it creates a chain reaction…one after another people will create misery which then explodes exponentially throughout communities.
Road rage, anyone?
On the other hand, people with generally kind, polite, sunny dispositions are often dismissed as being “dim.” Big mistake, that. Just because they don’t fall for the predatory snare of the average snark-baiter or misery-breeder doesn’t mean they’re stupid. Honestly.
They have simply found a far better use of their intellect.
If you get right down to it, I’d prefer to spend time with someone who is “dim” and nice than someone who is “smart” and cruel. Apparently, I’m in the minority there. I have found that in seeking out the kind, the nice, the polite…I have far more often found the intelligent and the wise than the opposite.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve said I love a good argument and I mean it. But by that, I mean a “good” argument. A mutual back-and-forth with someone who is intellectually equal, but might stand on a different side of the fence from myself on any number of subjects, that doesn’t devolve into snark or insults. Arguing with people I respect…who respect me…is titillating, exiting, and exhilarating. Sometimes I even learn a thing or two from it. Those arguments also keep me intellectually limber, and give me a chance to evaluate my own beliefs.
After all…if you can’t defend your stand, do you really believe it? Sometimes I don’t realize I don’t believe something until I argue about it. Even if it is with myself…(as in my apology to the Godspouses!)
If I actually involve myself in a debate/argument with you, take it as high praise. Very high praise indeed. I find you worthy of stimulating dialog. This is a high compliment, and a mark of deep and profound respect…I think you’re smart and nice and I don’t think you’ll dive off the deep end into snark-infested waters. You have something to offer…and can challenge my own opinions on whatever subject I attempt to involve you in. Not everyone is able to discuss/debate/argue on that level.
Somehow, in this urge to be witty, there’s been a loss of being wise.
“Is this a hill you want to die for?”
When I have an inclination to argue, this is something I try to ask myself. Because sometimes the answer is “no.” The subject isn’t important enough to start a battle over.
“Would you rather be right or happy?”
If the person on the other side of the subject is going to be right in that glorious, self-obsessed sort of way (like many an Evangelist), then there is no point at all to the dialog. I am right…for me…and I have no need to get into a tedious, soul-wrenching, screaming, name-calling tantrum to attempt to convert them to my way of thinking. I would much rather be happy.
And furthermore…from the movie (and play) Harvey:
“Years ago, my mother used to say to me, she’d say ‘In this world, Elwood, you can be oh so so smart, or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart… I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.” –Elwood P. Dowd
I need to say here…when I refer to forums, I don’t mean all of them. I have one particular forum in mind, yes. And many know which one I had in mind. I don’t want to say because although there are most certainly snarks in that water, not everyone who participates is actually a snark. I am *not* referring to the forum I have just joined recently, either…which has proven to be such a lovely, snark-free, attitude free respite from all the other forums I have ever found. I’m not going to post the name of that one, either. I like it just the way it is….yeah, I’m selfish like that.