Monday, December 13, 2010

This Monday in Manners, Installment #4: Snark - Don't Do It!

Emily Dickinson once wrote: "A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day." While computers, let alone the internet was not even close to a conceivable reality in the late nineteenth century, Ms. Dickinson hit the nail on the head with that one. Words, in their various shapes, sounds and formats, leave a major impression, and sadly in our digital world, I think this gets taken for granted.
The online world makes everything feel more open, less formal. Like you can really speak your mind, n'est-ce pas? The flip side of that is, of course, written language (without much context) becomes *very* open to interpretation. A statement on a message board or an instant message or a tweet devoid of punctuation or emoticons could mean many, many things to many, many people. Enter online sarcasm, and worse yet, S.N.A.R.K.

For some reason lately, I've noticed snark alllll over the internet, and it breaks my heart. Why do people feel the need to one-up someone, always have the last word or take unnecessary shots at other people? There is an unwritten trust we all have in the internet, but there is also the safety of anonymity. But the golden rule of speech should still prevail: If you don't have anything nice to say... shut it. Which isn't to say that you should withhold any expression of your opinions. But like having a face-to-face conversation, you should always think before you tweet. Agree to disagree. As much as someone's statement about something riles you up and leads you to believe said individual is a complete and utter moron who should be locked away from society until further notice, the minute that snarky bit has landed on the message board, you have admitted defeat. Having the last word does not mean you win. It means you fell into someone's trap, and you fought for something other people clearly were not that interersted in fighting for in the first place. The person at whom your snark was directed is probably completely unaffected, and your snark benefited no one.
So I implore all of you out there: have some self-respect! Snark is never the right response. Sarcasm tempered with humor is always acceptable. To take a stab at someone above and beyond what is dictated by the conversation is just plain wrong and a waste of your precious time and brain space. I don't know who David Denby is, but he sure got this anti-snark thing right. Take a lesson, and you might just have a more peaceful existence.


Until next week...

1 comment:

  1. This is so true. I see snark all over the internet, especially in anonymous comments. Why people think it's okay to hide behind anonymity and be downright mean is beyond me. I'm with you!