Snark: It’s Mean, It’s Personal, & It’s Ruining Our Conversation OR How To Ruin A Conversation By Being Unwilling To Clearly Define The Subject Of Your ‘Essay’
Let me save you some time.
You’re got shit to do.
Assumptions to run with.
Meals to discuss over twitter.
This book; this essay in it’s 7 parts*
does no better to define snark within it’s pages than the publishers did with the bit on the back jacket:
“You recognize it when you see it: a strain of nasty, knowing, and snide abuse that has spread like pinkeye through the media and undermined our conversation. Snark flows freely when wit is replaced with seethe and snarl, bad feelings and mocking laughter. And it’s never been more prevalent.”
Snark really doesn’t do much more in it’s 122 pages to clear up the story of what is and isn’t snark & how it is ruining your life than to say that it is.
Sure, Denby’s able to spot snark & share tasty examples.
But there is no sense that he is willing to have a debate about snark is or what the subtitle of his essay means. More annoying, Denby seems reluctant to educate the reader on how to become better snark hunters themselves. He dances around clearly defining his subject, even going so far as to suggest that he doesn’t want to get into a debate over semantics.
He makes no effort to explore how to undermind this cruel & hurtful form of unintelligent criticism
- which again, his choice of sub-title suggests-
would be the next step.
He tells us it’s bad.
He gives us beautiful examples of snark at its finest.
But in the end, all that seems to have been elucidated is that satire and snark are not the same; that irony is good.
Oh & yes.
That snark is bad.
Remind me again, what am I to do with this?
Hrrm. Well I guess I could become more embittered about how other people aren’t as skilled in recognizing this case by case defined ruiner of conversation as I now am suppose to be… avoid having a conversation with them.
Obviously, I’m no better informed on how to talk about or combat this force than I was before reading this ‘essay’.
It’s even possible that all it has done is give me reason to believe my own, poorly informed ideas of what constitutes snark because, I too, find Colbert funny.
And besides me being $12 poorer, I still am unsure of how snark is really (air quotes) bad; how it is really ruining our conversations.
I bought this book because I think this kind of discorse is destructive to both the recipient & the deliverer. And Denby does not fail to present loads of anecdotes that support some of these fears.
However, there isn’t much more to his book on snark than this.
And offering anacdotes on a topic which you are unwilling to debate semantics- makes for a poor excuse of an essay.
It’s also worth noting- this book is a National Bestseller.
My more cynacle side wonders if the author picked a hot buzz word and then wrote on it in the hopes that by the time the reader got annoyed & put the book down they would have already completed the purchase.
The idea of writing on Snark, of defining it & exploring its involvement in national discussion, journalism & debate is something that I think is worth more of an effort than this book has made.
If this subject really is ruining our conversations, then it’s worth the work to put together something worth talking about.
But Denby fails to offer any room to have a real discussion on snark here.
He does succeed, however, in inspiring me to create a new book buying criteria.
*cleverly referencing the Carrol poem, “The Hunting of the Snark”- which i may add, was extreemly entertaining & worth the read but as it has nothing to do with the meaning of snark reveals more about the author’s ability to reference culturally meaningful references to fill in the blanks on his own inability to properly form and present an arguement
(ps- i am an asshole)