Friday, December 16, 2005

The Value of Irony in a Scrupulous World

Idyllopus left a comment this a.m.:
I am interested in why you call this particular blog "snarkaholic" when there's so little snark involved. You don't snark. I've read you for months and you seem pretty up front and dedicatedly interested in social networking in a non-elitist way.
(the rest of the comment is

I had to think about this because Idyll is pretty much spot on--I really am into social networking, breaking down old barriers, being non-elitist and getting those outside the Long Tail to understand peer-to-peer communication.

So I thought about what, really, motivated me to call this blog Snarkaholic...And discovered that Snarkaholic expresses my love of irony--esp. as it exists in the Shameless Art of Self-Promotion embodied in hyperbole.

Just think about the last time you wrote a resume, about standard resume advice, and about how, in order to simply get someone to read your resume you just might have to use some rather bloated language. I figured Snarkaholic might be something like a bit of resume-style hyperbole.

And think about how ironic it is to have to engage hyperbole in order to get a job--that we can't just be ourselves, but must be some sort of meta-self on two sheets of paper in order for someone to deign to read about us.

The other side of Snarkaholic, though, is that by claiming it I reserve the right to snark at the A-listers or Bloggerati or Blogebreties or anyone else who annoys me when the occasion warrants a snark-- I've always wanted to be able to call a spade a freakin' two bit shovel if and when I see it and decide I want to do just that thing.

Because, for women especially, it's usually awfully impolite to challenge anyone who's higher up on the food chain than yourself.

Think about it. How often are women raised and corrected into politeness in one way or another--told to have good manners and to be respectful and be exactly who they a re told to be. We are told we shouldn't say anything bad about someone who has more experience than us in a certain field because if we knew what they knew we'd probably tow the same line. Think about how, when women start out being polite, and we say something a bit snarky, people are "shocked, shocked I tell you!" because we've ceased being Good Girls maintaining the status quo and our position in society. (I will amend this slightly by saying that I'm not sure how much gender matters with this issue in the blogosphere--I know there are a few men who feel the same pressure to capitulate.)

My sense was (and is) that if I started out being nice, I would have been stuck with a mamby-pamby facade that would have set up an expectation of all nice all the time.
With Snarkaholic I have the inalienable right to snark at whomever I choose, when I choose to do it and with good reason to do it-- which isn't all the time because I know how to use Good Judgment.

Most of the time I prefer to be my smart, witty, social, and diplomatic self. I like the role of mediator and of catalyst. If I were to be polite, without irony, I believe I would not be able to be either mediator nor catalyst in this ego-driven little medium.

My sense of irony extends to my picture as well. I recently asked a local business guy to look over the blogs. He told me that my pic was "a bit off-putting." I know he meant well--that if I had a nice stock photo of me smiling and confident that people would probably trust me more, esp as a consultant...or at least they'd think I wasn't such a hard-ass.

Because I'm really not a hard-ass. I can be firm in my opinions, esp. when I know my stuff, but I'm not some egotistical hard-ass who will rip your head off just because you disagreed with me. The businessman found me very approachable and highly knowledgeable-- not like Robert Conrad daring someone to knock the battery off my shoulder--and thought it might work better for me if I let people visually know this.

I figured they could just read the blog and determine it for themselves. Then again, maybe that's asking a bit too much in a sound-byte, short-attention-span society.

Yet all this leads me to think how the sense of irony in general is kind of lost in a internet-based world where we talk about the need for transparency on the part of business and journalistic entities, yet still defend anonymous snarking by the proletariat.

At least when I *do* snark at the business or journalistic entities, they all know who I am. I have a name, and a face. They are free to comment, to email me, to make friends with me, to establish peer to peer communication with me if they get that I'm smart enough to engage them, even if I'm not at their level just yet.

So far it's kind of worked. I've had a few A-listers read me, some of them even leave comments. I've also made a number of friends who are also amazingly smart and talented and haven't got the big-time recognition yet either. So even though I'm not "all snark, all the time" I don't think there's a need nor a reason to be--but sometimes staking the ironic and hyperbolic claim is what one must do in order to get read. Just a fact of life.


idyllopus said...

Thanks. I was curious and you covered the bases. As far as I've observed, your snark is still different from the heft of snark out there. You've certainly the privilege to use it, but your motives are different. When you challenge your motive is still inviting communication. You want people talking with each other. And it's interesting reading this blog and following the links because of your attitude.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I dunno. I think I have to agree with idyllopus.

I've looked around here and you don't seem snarky to me, either.

If you want to see the estimable queen of Snark, try this:

idyllopus said...

Wanted to add this. Your reasons are clear for why you named your blog as you did (and your post on the subject is aptly titled). I didn't want to appear to suggest that you should change the title of your blog.

Tish Grier said...


I think I kinda needed to remind myself of my "mission" with this blog, so your inquiry was appropriately timed. But I have the feeling that people within this little world still don't understand the concepts of irony and hyperbole. They want individuals to be literal/not figurative in their presentation, when, in fact, there are many bloggers who are ego-driven personas.

I just can't believe there are so many people who believe the personas of some bloggers represent the bloggers true identity. There's a Clark Kent/Superman dichotomy in many of us.


YOu totally missed the point of the post. I never claim to be the "queen of snark." It's not a title I necessarily want and I don't care who wants to claim it. My purpose is ironic and hyperbolic, not literal. For me, blogging isn't a pissing contest. If you want to be the "queen of snark" feel free to wear the crown. My crowns are elsewhere.

Tish Grier said...

I think, too, that alot of people don't recall how I skewered Jay Rosen for a comment he made at BlogHer....which really bothered Jay and I heard directly from him. It's in the archives.

Also, people don't see the comments I make on other blogs, which sometimes are really nasty....such as the one here

which didn't make some people all that happy (and my url got screwed up)

Dawno said...

Who'd read "MildlySardonicaholic" anyway? :-)

This bit really grabbed me "And think about how ironic it is to have to engage hyperbole in order to get a job--that we can't just be ourselves, but must be some sort of meta-self on two sheets of paper in order for someone to deign to read about us."

It's why I prefer to find jobs through networking - people get to know me and know what they're getting. My experience is a freakin' OED, not two pages of sentence fragments in the third person.

Great post.

Tish Grier said...

Dawno...I'm with you on the OED thing! If I really put down all my jobs and all my experience, nobody would read it. Ah, how we ask so much from so little!