Saturday, June 02, 2007


It's a new word, I believe, a linguistically delicious combination of snide, sarcasm and scorn.
Delicious linguistically because the word sounds so like what it means, but gad, what an unholy trio of substitutions for conversation, wit, and respect!

What it does to discussions is end them. Sometimes it also turns them into arguments, sometimes simply hurts people's feelings. Which is what it is supposed to do. Snark is the growl of the angry or hurt dog, a warning directly to the deepest levels of our self-protective systems to back off or else.

Most dogs don't actually deliver, and most snark doesn't either, but the intent is, well, the intent. My policy: if people want to end a discussion so badly that they resort to snark, I comply.

Makes for very bad discussions, poor truth finding, and tentative community. But...such a great word!


Kelsey Atherton said...

"Snark" is one of those words that just fits so perfectly. it is the "truthiness" of blog language, and rather than being a deliberate conversation ender, I see it much more commonly used as the hipsters pretension in commentary style.

Snark implies a "better-than" quality that one has to be in to snark, and when used at far away things (Rumsfeld, Paris Hilton), it is, at the least, a cathartic thing. Not that it needs to show up in every blog, and not that its abscence from iMinister is a bad thing, but the deliciousness of snark is such that there are appropriate places for it, and places where the negative connotation is, at least, mildly debateable.

Says the teenage blogger

Christine Robinson said...

I can cope with snark (love that word...) when, as you say, it is used at far away things.

It's always great when YOU show up on this blog! Thanks.

Kim said...

My therapist says that anger IS hurt, covered up.

Kelsey Atherton said...

kim - thats a valid point, and the best use of Snark I have ever seen is from a situation where some people felt very hurt.

In response to the new Star Wars movies, fans, having attached themselves very strongly to the movies they loved, were terribly disappointed by George Lucas' handling of the origin of Darth Vader. These people had a sense of ownership of the movies, and had a sense of what should be done. They felt betrayed by what happened, and so responded online with Snark. They had a holier-than-thou attitude, but could not act on their sense of ownership in an way other than to viciously disown a director, in the hopes that he would either change or stop making films.

Not pleasant, but better than angry threats, and perhaps cathartic.