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Tuesday, January 06, 2009 

In defence of snark

Adam Sternbergh has written an interesting, compelling and I think necessary counterpoint to David Denby's new book Snark: It’s Mean, It’s Personal, and It’s Ruining Our Conversation. As someone who is both part of a generation that has definitely embraced snark and also as a person who tends to be snarky, I think Sternbergh has a much better handle on it.

Yes, it can be damaging (as can sarcasm, and I suppose the only difference between snarkiness and sarcasm is that snark can be more straightforward), but it certainly doesn't have to be. It strikes me that to attack snark as a whole is about as sensible as getting mad at, say, flippancy (and I say that as someone who admittedly uses flippancy to avoid more sincere emotions sometimes). Certainly is someone is sarcastic, or snarky, or glib all the time, without regards to context, that's damaging. But this is a real baby-with-the-bathwater situation.

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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