Lovink on snark in blogging

dog in open car window

Weblogs starts in about a week, so to get started, an observation about snark, from Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture by Geert Lovink.

Snarky language “contains quips or comments containing sarcastic or satirical witticisms intended as blunt irony. Usually delivered in a manner that is somewhat abrupt and out of context and intended to stun and amuse.” It cultivates irritable or short-tempered moods into a style. By doing this, it moves the discussion away from attitude and conviction to the level of language. Snark is not just jargon, it jargonizes. The snark is not primarily interested in positive self-promotion.

Snark is a language to keep things at a cynical distance – to create and maintain a disconnectedness from feedback. Any feedback. All feedback. But snark is a register, too, a social posturing, out there with stuffy (professorial) and sweet (marketing).

According to Revenge of the Blog “snarky sounds more like witty sarcasm than cold cynicism, it contributes more to the Young Urban Professional than to the authoritarian character (as described by Adorno) whose cynicism is a way of distancing himself from his own ethical involvement.” The author, Pit Schulz, points out that finding one’s personal voice is a central aspect of blogging. “Etymologically snarky could be associated with the nasal aspect of snoring or snorting. This sonority refers both to a certain private informality of pajama journalism but also to a state of routine and disconnectedness to a feedback which allows the modulating of expressions.”

Emo gets reader and writer no closer together than snark. its tl;dr cant be bothered to even punctuate this shit because. Emo’s a pose, too – a posture that faces cynicism by embracing it.

The opposite of snarky would be emo (emotional); blogging mimics office chats in that it is informal without ever becoming personal. Its brevity stems from the lack of time of the writer, who soon must give his or her attention to work tasks.

Alternatives? Oh yes. There are more than two registers.

Robert Scoble … has a cynical-business read of the term. “The smartest people in my RSS are usually the least snarky. Why? Cause they could give a f**k about all the traffic.” (35-6)

We’ll find others, but blogging isn’t about the traffic.