Allow me to make a case for “snark”. According to the Urban Dictionary, Snark is “the combination of “snide” and “remark”. Sarcastic comment. “
Okay, maybe. I view snark as a little more harmless than that. Why? Using the word “sarcasm” to define snark is a bit harsh.
Sarcasm is defined as “harsh or bitter derision or irony”.
Wit, however, is “the keen perception and cleverly apt expression of those connections between ideas that awaken amusement and pleasure”.
I like wit. I think snark is more like wit. Sarcasm has an edge to it, a bite that is a little mean.
Here’s sarcasm: A friend shows up with their shirt buttons buttoned in the wrong holes. You say, “As usual, tremendous job of preparing yourself to be out in public. That’s one thing we can always count on-no matter how bad we look, you always make us feel better.”
See the mean edge there? A situation like that doesn’t really lend itself to wit or snark, because it’s just an honest mistake.
Wit lacks that edge. In my view, so does snark. Wit is a servant of cleverness, a servant of using language or situations to make people chuckle. Wit and snark allow one to laugh at themselves, to be a willing participant in the ridiculousness of the moment.
Here’s an example:
I just accidentally deleted all the texts that a friend of mine had sent over the last several months. I was bummed, because he’s a very clever texter, but here’s what I sent him:
“Just accidentally deleted all your texts. Knowing that can be done, though, it makes me wonder if I might be able to delete all record of you completely.”
See the difference? It’s ridiculous, so that’s not sarcasm-it’s wit.
“I think most people delete my existence without telling me, so thanks for your kindness.”
Here’s another-it’s snarky, not sarcastic:
A clever friend of mine, referencing the book I just wrote, asked, “Do you know anyone who bought your book? I’d rather borrow it than buy it.”
I responded, “No worries. Just wait a few weeks and you’ll be able to buy one at a garage sale for a quarter.”
Witty is good. Snarky is good. Sarcastic not so much. See the difference?
So here’s to everyone who loves the way words create humor and laughter. Here’s to everyone who rises to the challenge of “keen perception and cleverly apt expression”.