Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Snark Huntin'

Playing in the background: Steve Roach, "Structures from Silence
Meters swum today: Nada. I slept in.

I was gonna call this post "The Hunting of the Snark" but I figured Lewis Carroll, or whoever holds his copyright these days, might sue me. Even if he didn't the guy who created the completely amazing "Alice" video game might. The snarks in that game were nasty. Little fishy creatures that, unlike most fishy creatures everywhere, make it their business to kill you. What's up with that? Some of 'em even spit acidy nastyness or blobs of molten rock. Very not cool. Plus, if you managed to kill one, it was only a little triangle of meta-essence, and not a diamond. A triangle's hardly anything.

Having now range vastly afield of the point, I mentioned recently that I wanted to do something about my tendency toward sarcasm and snarkyness. Joan pointed out this morning, and I think she is right, that I just wouldn't be me if I weren't a little bit snarky. The level of snark, however, could definitely come down quite a bit and Jen would still be Jen. The question is how, exactly, one gets rid of snark.

Near as I can figure, I'm snarky because I need to feel superior to, or about, something. Snarking is a great way to put something in its place. Example: Somebody says, "This columnist thinks we should permanently raise the gas tax so it never drops below $4 a gallon to keep demand low." I respond, "(Eye roll) Oh, yeah, that's gonna help." Which says what exactly? Well, that I think it's a stupid idea, but more to the point, that I'm smarter than the columnist. The columnist isn't there, so his feelings aren't hurt, but what about whoever's reading me the column? When I say, "Oh, yeah, that's gonna help," I'm implying not only that the columnist is an idiot but that anybody who agrees with the columnist must also be an idiot. Including whoever's reading the column to me. After all, he/she/it wouldn't be reading it to me unless he/she/it thought that the columnist might have a point. If I said, "What a stupid idea," that would be more honest. Still, what would be wrong with saying, "That's an interesting idea, but I disagree"? That gets my opinion across, without making anybody else feel bad. Including the columnist, whoever he is.

So that's what I'm trying to do. Thus far it has not proven easy. I have so many ingrained knee-jerk responses to things that I use 'em before my brain can engage. The aforementioned "Oh, yeah, that's gonna help" is the most frequent but I also use a bunch of these: "What's next, taxing Sunday drivers?" "Gee, maybe we should just ban all cars from entering Dallas after seven a.m." "Nobody'd pay it anyway. They'd just start riots." "Look, let's just walk to work from now on, okay?" They all say basically the same thing. You're an idiot, I'm smarter than you. And just on the off chance I'm not smarter than you, I'm gonna say something that makes you feel stupid so that I can feel smarter in comparison. Whether you're physically present or not.

Kind of un-Buddhist-y, huh? So I'm trying to stop. If you catch me snarking, say "Snark!" or something so I can notice. Course the first few times you do this I may spin around, reach for my ice wand and look for fishy creatures, but I'm hoping sooner or later I'll get over that. And I guess I could go into another discourse about why I need to be smarter than everybody all the time, but that's another post.

1 comment:

David Isaak said...

I don't know about the rest of this, but I'm pretty sure Carroll is in the public domain by now. So you can quote Snark if you want to...