I still haven’t read Snark, so I don’t know how valid the NYmag critique is. I’ve been reading the interviews that I found through Fimoculous, one from The Daily Beast and the other from Flavorwire. The subtitled conclusion of the book, It’s Mean, It’s Personal, and It’s Hurting Our Conversation, has been accused of missing the point, -a snide remark is suppose to be mean and perhaps personal- but a lot of the critics are also missing the point of the overall message. Here’s an excerpt from the book that was posted on The Daily Beast:
It turns out in the wake of the Internet revolution, snark as a style has outgrown its original limited function. The Internet has allowed it to metastasize as a pop writing form: A snarky insult, embedded in a story or a post, quickly gets traffic; it gets linked to other blogs; and soon it has spread like a sneezy cold through the vast kindergarten of the Web. Not only that, it’s there forever, since it’s easily Googled out of obscurity. Along with all the useful, solid, clever, playful information and opinion circling around, a style of creepy nastiness is rampaging all over the place, too. The zombies are biting, and a hell of a lot of us are enjoying the spectacle. The Internet did not invent sarcasm, or the porous back fence where our gossiping parents gathered, or the tenderly merciful tabloids; but it provides universal distribution of what had earlier reached a limited number of eyes and ears. In brief, the knowing group has been enlarged to an enormous audience that enjoys cruelty as a blood sport.
You can debate the semantics of what snark really is, but we all know that it’s a hipsterish way of being a dick to people. And there’s a big difference between being witty, sarcastic, and genuinely funny, to the kind of thing that’s “so mean it’s funny” kind of humor. It’s that “manchild” humor of the 4chan and South Park generation. My theory is that it’s really people trying to be sarcastic and funny, but failing miserably at it.
This trend is specially more prevalent online because of so many people getting into “social media” that obviously don’t have the skills to handle it.
If what your doing is offending everybody, even the people that admire you, you’re just being tactless. Snark is just a mask you’re wearing to give yourself permission to be an asshole.