Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What's wrong with snark?

I'm sure most of the readers of my blog have come across articles on the internet that rely heavily on the use of snark. This includes a number of popular Catholic blogs. Snark is a combination of the words snide and remark and has become a common vehicle used to get a writer's point across to his or her readers. It's sarcastic and at times humorous.

Or it's supposed to be humorous. Very often snark fails on Catholic blogs because it steps out of the terrain of mild sarcasm and treads into the territory of mockery. Mockery has no place on a christian blog. Catholic writers who are liberal in their use of snark may claim that they are using it for good purpose but their comboxes tell the real story:  it's offensive to a large portion of the Catholic population. It repels others away from the Faith instead of drawing them in.

Mockery treats others with derision; it's contemptuous, not humorous.

In the Catholic blogosphere I've seen this derision, thinly veiled as snark, take down entire subgroups of the Catholic population. In many cases the writer has a valid point but the point gets lost in the midst of the "trash talk". It's like trying to find a gem in a garbage heap. The gem may be there but it's so covered with muck that it has become unrecognizable to the readers.

I'm all for writers who are blunt but honest. Peter Kreeft is a good example of a writer who cuts to the chase and tells it like it is. But this is not snark. As shocking as his words may sometimes be you can see the truth in them. They are acceptable because of the charity behind them. Snark has a peculiar kind of dishonesty behind it that says "I care more about how many readers I get than whether the readers see the truth of my words." You can smell its pharisaic qualities a mile off.

So what is so wrong with too much snark?

It promotes an "us against them mentality"
It promotes group evil  (For an example of group evil we need only look at the crowd mocking Jesus on the   cross. People get caught up in it.)

And most of all... harms those who are already wounded, the very ones we want to help.


  1. You make good points as always.

    There are certain Blogs where you can "feel" the 'I am better than you tone' in every word that is written. You can almost see the Blogger standing on his own pedestal of self-importance and presumptious knowledge.

    Thank you for another great post, Mary.

    God bless.

  2. Thanks, Victor. Even the Pope is fair game these days it seems :(

    God bless you too!

  3. I haven't heard of snark before, Mary. When I saw this title, I had visions of a special snorkel for swimming with sharks. But, I couldn't see how that would be safe.

    Most of the blogs that I read are written by sweet Catholic mothers - except for Victor's. And, even Victor's sweet!

    I guess it's that old pride thing - it gets me, too, at times:-/

    God bless, Mary:-)

  4. Love it, Mary! The info was amazing -- I didn't know that's what it meant. I'm coming back to my blog after Easter and will reblog this (er how do I do that?) Maybe I will link.

    BTW, Vicky's comment is too funny... Not mocking, but snorkel/shark comment is making me LOL.

  5. I came across several of these blogs early in my blogging days. I agree that they do harm the very people we need to help. Vicky's comment, while funny :) doesn't fall far from the mark~ those blogs can be a bit shark-like.

  6. Hi Vicky,
    Lol! Yeah, it does sound like this ;)
    And come to think of it, it fits in quite well with this post...

    God bless you too! Don't be too upset that we will be stealing your good weather soon - I promise to send it back in about six months or so!

  7. Hi Anabelle,
    It cracked me up too! I like the way she thinks :)

    I didn't know what snark meant until I started seeing it on blogs. I don't really mind it when it's used on occasion and if it's not over the top. There are very few writers who can get away with it though.

  8. It's a very delicate balance, isn't it? I like how you brought out the mocking of Christ on the cross...... mocking hurts the hurting.

  9. Hi Karin,
    Me too. I still come across it regularly and I can never figure out how the writer is blind to the damage he or she is doing. It really put me off at first but I thought it was due to ignorance so I tried to overlook it. Then I realized that it's often deliberate. I wish I understood WHY. I even came across an article on the internet that suggested Jesus used snark therefore it's okay. I think some people fail to see the difference between blunt honesty and mockery. We see this difference in the two men who were crucified with Jesus.

    Thanks for commenting!

  10. Hi Sarah,
    Exactly! It DOES hurt the hurting. And they have enough pain to bear. Thanks for visiting!

  11. I'm with Vicky on this one. I haven't heard nor come across this word or style of blogging. I have met lovely and encouraging Catholic bloggers and other Christian bloggers. I'll have to keep my eyes wide open on this one. You must have come across your fill of these types of posts to blog about it yourself. Thanks for the warning Mary!

  12. Mary, I've never heard of the term, snark, but I get what you are saying. It is a good word to use for what you are describing. It can be very easy to get into this mode of thinking. I so agree that snarking doesn't promote real Catholic living of the Gospel. It just makes Catholics look like hypocrites. My life travels have brought me to many different kinds of "Catholic" communities. Each time I thought I had the full truth and understanding of things. But as I moved on from one to another I began to realize that I had developed a "chip on my shoulder" thinking along with all the other parish members that I was somehow better than thou. I never realized that I had a bad attitude. It is humbling to discover that there are good people outside of my own little vacuum. We learn so much when we step into the shoes of others and walk a mile or two. We are all just trying to make it to Heaven. There is right and wrong, good and bad in everything. None of us has all the right answers. Yes, we must pray for our dear Pope Francis. It is never the evil who are persecuted; only the good.

  13. . I agree with your article. Love Vicky's comment.
    When people attack or judge or mock, they are acting too much like the Pharisees Charity is what is called for.. And good humor-like you and Victor. And Vicky! Lol

  14. Hi Noreen,
    You haven't come across this? Maybe it's because I pop all over the internet when I want to catch up on current Church news - that's when I usually see it. I thought it was getting a bit better...but then the new pope was elected.

    Thanks for commenting :)

  15. Great comment, Monica. I think it is easy for people to get caught up in this type of thinking. It's as if it's catchy or something, like a virus. A bad one at that.

    Praying for Pope Francis with you!

  16. Hi Colleen,
    I couldn't help but hit publish on this one :) Every time I read mocking comments about our new pope it drove me bananas. He was attacked within a few hours of taking office.

    Yes, Vicky has a good sense of humor!
    Thanks for your comment!

  17. Mary,

    I hadn't heard of snark either because I also tend to stay within a safe little circle of friendly blogs when I go online.

    I have however caught little snippets of what people are saying about the Pope. Most of my reading has all been good as far as Pope Francis goes. What I am sad about is the comparisons with Pope Benedict eg Pope Francis is humble. Thank goodness he has replaced Pope Benedict. Now the Church has a future. Pope Benedict was not humble, more concerned about things that are unimportant such as rich vestments, red shoes... Not my opinions of course! I picked up all this from some of my Catholic friends' FB walls. Sometimes people surprise me with their views.

    God bless!

  18. Hi Sue,
    I've seen this view too during my internet travels. Instead of seeing the different gifts each pope has to offer they compare them instead. (I didn't see it on FB

    God bless you too!

  19. Mary, Have you checked your junk mail lately :) You may have an e-mail from me in there...sent about a week ago?

    Pls.forgive my asking if you got it, and just haven't had time to respond. But, the way we always have problems connecting..just thought I'd ask.