Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Easy On The Snark

Over the Christmas break I edited some graduate school essays for a friend. They wanted a real, honest edit since the next few years of their life depended on these writing samples.

I delivered. Maybe too much so. I've always shot from the hip, but I went a little heavy handed on the snark. For my friend, who is just entering the loony world of writing, the biting humor of media veterans is akin to being hit in the face with a frying pan. It comes out of nowhere and hurts like the dickens.

I started feeling guilty and told them as much. Who could blame me for my knee jerk reaction to writing that needed a little work? Snark has been a major trend in media for the past 10 years. It's the voice that put Gawker on the map and spawned countless imitators. There is an entire generation of writers coming up in the game who have known no other popular form of writing.

This ran on this morning. It's a thoughtful piece about where snark and unnecessary meanness comes from. The takeaway, at least for me, is to consider how much better of a writer one can be if you remove the crutch of sarcasm.

From the essay: "Snark is, in this sense, the ridicule of something that we find, in even the smallest degree, threatening...There comes a point where it's just recreational meanness. The trick is identifying the place where that happens."

I'm Giving Up Snark In The New Year