I heard an interview with David Denby on NPR on the drive to work. The interview was about his book Snark: It’s Mean, It’s Personal, and It’s Ruining Our Conversation. What little I heard over the radio and what little I just read in the preview pages made me go, “I need to buy this.”
One of the Composition II problems I have to deal with is preventing snark in my students’ argument essays. Of course, not all of them do this, but those who do — oh lordy! It’s one of the reasons why I usually ban topics like abortion, gun control, and the death penalty, because the snark can often run like flood water: It gets into everything and trashes the argument.
Like Lynne Truss’ Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Denby’s Snark is another book that freshman Composition students ought to read, from cover to cover, and then internalize it, absorb it, until the information becomes second nature.
Would make my job a whole heckuva lot easier, I tell ya.
Also, snark is one of those things that I myself try *not* to do on this blog, as well as on online comments. As a person who has been subjected to snark but also does not condone censorship, I wholeheartedly agree with Denby’s premise: People are free to be as snarky as they want to be, but they must realize that snark does *nothing* positive in actual conversations and, thus, contributes nothing.
As far as I’m concerned, some snarky comments that I’ve seen online may as well be substituted for hot air, coming out of the commentor’s ass. It’s as valuable as that.
Anyways — Snark. Need to buy that.