Tired of the Snark

I am on day five of a constant headache (sinus infection, maybe) and I am feeling a little snarky.  "Snarky," according to the Wiktionary, is an adjective meaning:
  1. (informal) Snide and sarcastic; usually out of irritation.
I've been thinking a lot about the difference between snarkiness and humor lately.  

Wiktionary defines humor as:
1.  Something funny, e.g. a joke, satire, or parody.
He treated the sensitive subject with enough humor that no one was offended. 

2. Four fluids (blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm) that were believed to control the health and mood of the human body

3. A mood, especially a bad mood.  He was in a particularly vile humor that afternoon. 

4. Either of the two regions of liquid within the eyeball, the aqueous humour and vitreous humour.

(I'm really only concerned with the first definition for this post, although, as we all know, I have intimate knowledge of the last one.)

(Also, as I read a little further about the etymology of the word, it said this: From Middle English < Old French humor < Latin humor, correctly umor (moisture) < humere, correctly umere (to be moist)

(Which made me laugh.)


Anyway, look, the basic definition of humor is "something funny" and the basic definition of snarkiness is "something snide."

It seems like there's this epidemic of people confusing the two on the Internet, and I find that my Twitter, Facebook and Blog Reader are all filled with The Snark.

It makes me tired, the Snark.  I mean, there is already so much negativity out there.  So many people using the pseudo-anonymity of the Internet to take crass and irrelevant pot-shots at other people simply because they hold differing views. So many people taking evidence of common human frailty (weight gain or aging or momentary bad judgment) to say something snide and soul-crushing under the guise of being funny.  

Well, it's NOT funny.  

It's MEAN.  

There is a difference.

I've been thinking about the things that make me laugh: the earnestness of babies, of puppies, of Dave Barry --there's no smirk there.  No Snark.

Even when Dave is TRYING to be sort of snarky, he's really just funny.  "Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it's open to anybody who owns hideous clothing."  See, he's TRYING to make fun of golfers, but it's not in an "I'm cooler than the people about whom I snark" way and therefore, it is FUNNY. We all already know that Dave has hideous clothing himself.  It's been established.

Same with this one: "Guys are simple... women are not simple and they always assume that men must be just as complicated as they are, only way more mysterious. The whole point is guys are not thinking much. They are just what they appear to be. Tragically."  See, we know Dave is a GUY, so this is funny.

"Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear." Funny to anyone who has every ridden with a dog in a car.

"Hobbies of any kind are boring except to people who have the same hobby. This is also true of religion, although you will not find me saying so in print."   

(I want to grow up to be Dave Barry.)

See, I think true humor is INCLUSIVE and based on shared experiences.  Snarkiness that is trying to be funny is usually aimed at making someone else feel bad --for the way they dress or eat or vote or whatever.

I want to start a new Anti-Snark Movement.  Because, People, we are killing our collective good nature under the guise of a smirk.  If something someone writes makes you smirk, it's usually not funny, it's usually MEAN.

(In the words of the immortal Dave: "I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care.")

So, first of all I think we need a button.  Anyone out there who can design an Anti-Snark button?  I would volunteer except, well, that requires more knowledge than I possess of the inner workings of computer design stuff. (And I already have a headache.)

And then we need a regular feature on an Anti-Snark Rock Star (TM). THIS I am qualified to do and I am going to do this on Tuesdays because Tuesdays are typically hard for everyone. There is just something so TUESDAY about them --we need to take them back. I propose we begin with visiting a new (to me) blog I've just discovered. MurrMurrs is the blog of Murr Brewster. It's sort of a literary blog--sort of like what Mark Twain would be writing if he were alive and blogging today.

Enjoy, and tell her she's an Anti-Snark Rock Star.

Here, laugh at the baby dancing --it's FUNNY:


Unknown said…
I don't know if I qualify. Okay, so I haven't blogged for six-months, so I guess in that vein, I really don't qualify. But in my FB statuses I've been known to do the funny. I try to be nice. I do imagine I fall down sometimes.

Tell you what I'm tired of...not being able to read the comments on a news story without bile filled hate mongering rudeness. Like, my friend Suzanne was interviewed at a meeting she was at yesterday. She's awesome, a really fantastic person. And the comments that followed the article were so mean it made me want to cry.

I wish everyone would just remember that every person you meet, even on the internets, is someones child, brother or sister, mother or father. They deserve some respect. Disagree, but don't be a jerk. It's YOUR identity you are hemming up when you decide to be a jerk.

Whew. Sorry 'bout that.

Love the dancin' baby. Might just put that link in my favorites.
The Dister said…
In the spirit of dancing babies - you have just GOT to watch this. There is absolutely zero snark and I guarantee that you will laugh.
Ann in NJ said…
Well said. I'm tired of the meanness. And I'll admit to sometimes laughing at the snark, but usually it's people who have deliberatly put themselves on public display (I'm thinking reality shows here. I'm sorry, they're truly asking for public opinion). When it's about people who were not TRYING to be in the news? No thank you.

Been trying to point that out to my children on a regular basis.
Annabanana said…
Here's a VERY humorous video with no snark...guy with a big pad:

Demetri Martin - Large Pad

And here is a funny one liner, I borrowed from my friend Sandi (thought you'd appreciate, having spent time in Texas and all):

Life isn't like a box of chocolates. It's more like a jar of jalapenos. What you do today, might burn your butt tomorrow.
Agree. Self-deprecating humor or goofy humor is the best kind. Everyone laughs, no one gets hurt.
Susan said…
Here, here! Can we make a button to protest the phantom anonymous disagree-ers on Ravelry too?

It's funny that you quote Dave Barry today and Marguerite referred to Erma Bombeck the other day on her blog. I love both of them and I haven't read either for a long time. I must remedy that. You would probably like Stuart McLean's books. He's sort of Canada's Garrison Keillor.
Unknown said…
Oh let's not include Garrison Keillor in the realm of the snark free. He has been downright hateful to my religion. He's always poked fun, but lately it's gotten way out of hand.
Lynn said…
Will be linking to your post and the video in my post tomorrow. Today, I'm too busy dealing with the aftermath of one of the four bodily humors (definition #2).
Hannah said…
With you on the constant sinus pressure; with you on the Dave Barry love.
Susan said…
I am totally with you. I have been saying the same thing. Too much meanness. It is time for niceness and kindness and laughing with and not laughing at people. We all need to chill and stop feeling like everything must be REACTED to. Even religion. Agree to disagree. Live and let live. Can you tell I am compleley on board?
Murr Brewster said…
Oh, gosh, Barb, here I was reading away and then you mention me in the same sentence as my hero Mark Twain! I am all verklempt! Seriously, I may weep. Although I can't rule out that my humours are out of whack. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Murr Brewster said…
One more thing. I just read your piece to my husband Dave and said "boy, does she know how to get in my good graces!" He said it sounded like you could get into my pants, too.
ccr in MA said…
Ahh, I love Dave Barry, and I loved that baby! Thanks for sharing it.
Lynn said…
I am now subscribing to Murr's blog. Priceless...
LizzieK8 said…
I'm in! I hate snarkiness...serves no positive purpose at all.
Marion Gropen said…
I am SO in on the "No Snark" campaign. Although I must make an exception for the long-lost, much-beloved blog of Miss Snark.

If you care about books and how they get published, you really must go take a gander at her archives. Her snark was all in the service of helping people see how to help themselves achieve their dreams. And, trust me here, it can be damn hard to alter some of the cherished delusions that prevent some writers from becoming authors.
Miri said…
Kindness rocks. Funniness I can't necessarily do but I surely recognize. I'm in.
Margie said…
I guess there is a fine line between funny and snarky. In our area of the country we told Polish jokes. Years ago my daughter came home from high school and was really indignant that the Australian exchange student told these sort of stories but substituted "Irish" for "Polish". So it is OK to make fun of people as long as it isn't my heritage, or my religion, or my political party.
The baby is adorable.