Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Commentary on Snark

Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true. ~Robert Brault

Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you - not because they are nice, but because you are. ~Author Unknown

Don't be yourself - be someone a little nicer. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Warning: [RANT]

A few days ago, I had added a status to my Twitter/Facebook pages that said: " I appreciate good, healthy sarcasm, but do not like plain old snark. Just saying."

This was prompted by some serious snark in Twitterville started by members of a very large writing/reviews blog regarding a particular publisher. Now, this publisher may or may not be all the things the blog member says, but I'm all about stating facts and subtracting snark when it comes to something like that.

Last night, the same blog members apparently tore apart one of this publishers books, line by line, in a very nasty and unkind way. Again, this may or may not have been the worst book ever written, but my back goes up in an automatic response to how nasty and unkind they were.

When Judy and I started the LASR reviews site, the first thing we agreed on was "NO SNARK" and no completely negative reviews. If our reviewers don't like something they read, we simply decline to review it. And I decline reviews everything month. Additionally, we have plenty of reviews that rate fairly low on the "positive" scale, and our reviewers are not hesitant to point out the weaknesses in a particular story -- BUT (and this is the important part), they point out the good parts, too.

Interestingly enough, Judy and I must be in the minority because some of the biggest writing/review sites are the ones that are the snarkiest. I find that fascinating insight into the human psyche. We love snark (unless it's directed at us). And, yet, the snark must be directed at someone... so why revel in it?

It reminds me a bit of the story "First They Came..."

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
Then they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out for me.

So... (and, understand, I'm not against pointing something out when it's wrong) it's okay when someone attacks an author for a particularly bad bit of prose, or a publisher for publishing it, or someone who does something that is shady or just plain stupid (cuz, yanno... I never do anything stupid), it's all fun and games then.

Until they come for you. Not so fun when they tear apart YOUR work. Not so fun when the attacks get personal. Not so fun then, is it?

And so, even when I may agree in theory to what is being said ("Yes, it was stupid for that author to do that thing." or "Yes, that really is terrible prose and should never have been published,"), I can't condone the way it is presented.

There are all kinds of cliches about they way we should treat people. Let me quote you a couple:

If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.


Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Of course, the big bloggers who are participating in these things aren't going to read my blog, but it's really been bothering me because of the current Snarkfest, and I needed to get it off my chest.



You Need Success to Be Happy

You are a responsible and serious person. You like to do things well.

Reaching your goals is very important to you, and you don't like getting sidetracked.

You feel great when you are mastering new tasks and solving problems. You believe in hard work.

Nothing makes you feel worse than feeling like you are doing a bad job.

That's pretty much on target...



MomJane said...

This fits me pretty well. Don't know how they do it.

You Need Friends to Be Happy

You are a friendly, social person. You seek out connections and relationships.
Being close to others is very important to you, and you don't like discord.

You feel great when you're cooperating and working with others. You enjoy belonging to a group.
Nothing makes you feel worse that feeling alone or alienated. You want to be liked by those around you.

Dru said...

Those sites that are snarky are the ones that I no longer visit.

re quiz: You Need Friends to be Happy

Tori Lennox said...

I've been accused of being snarky. Well, okay, I freely admit I can be snarky, but I'd like to think I'm not nasty about it. Being nasty is just mean and shows more about the person saying it than about whatever they're being nasty about, in my opinion. A lot of people are just plain rude, these days.

Brandy said...

I like heroines in books to be snarky, I don't like People to be snarky to others in real life. I agree with Tori, today people seem more rude than they were when I was growing up. Our society has turned selfish.
That said (*G*) the quiz reports I need Friends to be Happy. True to an extent, but I am happiest around my family.

I hope you have a sunny and happy day!

Allie Boniface said...

Sigh. Yeah, it seems that people love snark. I don't have time for it, but I guess I'm in the minority. Keep sharing your cliches. Maybe one day they will sink in to a few hardheaded people.

Diane Craver said...

That's too bad about the people using their time to trash authors and publishers. I never read the snarky blogs.

Wow - surprised at my quiz results:
You Need Power to Be Happy

You are an influential, brilliant person. You are often the most competent person in the room.
Being in charge is very important to you. You get irritated when you have to depend on someone else.

You feel great when you are leading a group and inspiring other people. It's your gift.
Nothing makes you feel worse than being powerless. You need to be in control of your life.

Happy Mother's Day, Marianne!