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...
...it harms those who are already wounded, the very ones we want to help.