Could I give up snark?
April 6, 2011 1:09 PM Subscribe
Given this post
on the Blue about being less snarky/cynical/negative and the related comments about how it made people's lives better, I thought I should try it. But how?
posted by jeather to human relations (20 answers total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
A few comments in particular:
I have made a pointed effort to be more kind and patient to people around me, and it's made me feel much better about my relationships and about myself. It's not even just snark I've tried to cut down on, but negativity in general.
I discovered that without it, I was generally nicer, still funny, and more positive. Some of my relationships with people (with whom I generally was not as close as say friends or long-sufering coworkers) improved. I discovered that snark was seeping into everything I did, insidiously. I also discovered that snark could build as many bridges as it burned, and that tone really did matter. I thought a lot about the boundaries between criticism and snark. I thought about the way it made me feel and the external forces that fed it and how it affected other people. I also missed snarking muchly. I still enjoyed it as a spectator (although I became more discerning and something of a snark connoisseur), but I began to see times when it wasn't helpful, entertaining, or productive that I might not have seen before.
The time off was great for recalibrating my approach. I came out of that experience with more focused snark and a better sense of when and how I was using it, and how it affected people. I think I've become a much better snarker, even though I snark much less now, and I tend not to snark about people/their characteristics (particularly people in my every day life, unless we are close enough to have a mutual snark society thing going on) as much as I do about events or actions/implementations. I've found that's less corrosive to who I think I am, and it feels less personally negative. It's also led to me thinking more about solutions or a "right practices" type of thing. When I go for the funny, snark is no longer my automatic go-to, as well.
It was one of the best things I've ever done for myself, seriously. Let me be clear: I didn't give up skepticism, I didn't become some wide-eyed naif for six weeks. I didn't give up snark per se, though I did do a lot less of it, and I definitely didn't give up being harsh or critical. I just gave up my presumptions that everything was always going to go poorly and that everyone around me had bad motives. The effect was startling; I was happy nearly all the time! Strangers would comment on what a good mood I was in. I became more willing to do goofy things like sing along with the Muzak in a supermarket (I'm a professional singer) or do a Happy Dance in public (I am a TERRIBLE dancer). When I dropped the presumption that everyone around me was judging me -- which I didn't even know I had! -- I got to be a lot more true to myself.
So all this sounds like something that would probably help me a lot, and be good for me, and if it isn't, well, I bet it's easy to go back. But I cannot even imagine what the actual steps one goes through to do this are. How do you just stop being cynical or pessimistic or snarky?
I refuse to listen to the interview because I hate Q a lot. Is that too cynical? I really have listened to it in the past, I just never enjoy it.