Giving up snark
Maybe snark is as bad for a person as is junk food—snark does seem to be “junk emotion.” Here’s an article by a woman who foreswore snark and found herself feeling much better, much as if she had stopped eating junk food:
Last week, if you’d asked me what I thought of Gadhafi, I’d have said something like, “I appreciate his whimsical taste in uniforms.” That’s because I’d vowed for one month to live up to the gold standard we all internalized to some degree as children: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
It started when my husband, baby and I drove away from a visit with my aunt, who has Stage 4 breast cancer. I thought back on the 30-some years I’ve known her. I have never once in all that time heard her say anything unkind. Not even in the subtext of her words. That’s one hell — or, in this case, heaven — of a legacy.
While I’m not known for being unkind, I’m not above the occasional barbed joke. Looking at my dad’s “Refudiate Obama” bumper sticker a while back, I remarked to my right-wing brother, “That’s a pretty big word.” Sure, it’s a mild quip, but it feeds into a current of savage speech that underlies much of our public discourse. Personal invectives dominate everything from political commentary to You Tube comments. Snark, it seems, is something to which people aspire.
I began to wonder, how would holding my tongue — or at least changing what came off it — alter my relationships? Would I be forced into becoming a pushover or would I find more direct ways to deal with disagreement? Would I be less interesting? Would I still feel like myself, even? And in a bigger, moral way: Is it actually better?
There was one way to find out. I began my month-long campaign of kind with the following rules: . . .