I think I have taken a cue from a friend: I have declared war on my inner snark.
Due to recent events, I've begun to realize that I need a change in my own attitude, and progress begins with the realization that I can and must change for the better. I'm Generation X, and as I've mentioned before, many of my generation have foolishly acted as if we've invented snark and irony. We didn't, of course. I think our worst cultural invention is probably the dismissive airquotes, in which we put words in quotes to indicate that we are too superior, too sophisticated, too cynical, too jaded to accept it. This incessant striving to be hip, to be in the know, to be cleverer-than-thou is, I think, self-destructive. But I'm a product of my generation, and I've given into such things far too often myself.
I am now at the point where I strive for sincerity and simplicity, which ought not to be confused with simple-mindedness. I'm tired of the feints and counterfeints wrapped in poisonous irony or snark which pass for witticisms. I think there is some secret, tiny core of my being that is made just a little bit grimmer, just a little bit deader, when I contribute to this kind of pollution in communications. What is wrong with earnestness? What is wrong with openness? There is something wrong when I feel that I have to pretend to be hipper than I am, to be always ready with the bon mot, the clever riposte. Why should wit be cutting? Why can't wit heal instead? Why is irreverent humor a cultural virtue? What is wrong with reverence?
I find that in my best moments there is a quietness, a serenity, which gives me strength, but strength ought not to be used to stomp on the weak, but to build them up. Lately I think I have begun to see people in a new light, that (like me) often what they say on the surface covers up something which they do not want you to see. Consider the idea, the next time you see a feeding frenzy of snark or wank, that underneath all the bravado and bluster and "haha OMG lulz U R stupid" that there is a very tiny person inside, more of a piranha than a shark, who would be cannibalized themselves the moment they lose their status, their cred, the moment they start being a human and not a piranha.
Cynicism is unhealthy spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Snark and wank and mockery are symptoms of a deeper disease, and when I do it (which, unfortunately, I have) I know that I am not centered, not tranquil. There's more than one kind of humor, you know. There is the lighthearted kind of humor that causes us to throw back the head and laugh with joy, or the belly laugh at the silly and fun; then there is the stomach-tightening laughter of mockery, the spiteful laughter which sounds like the braying of jackasses. Surely it is not so difficult to understand that one is healthy and brings release, while the other kind kills us all just a little inside?
This has been a long time in coming, and it has been something that I have been thinking about off and on for several years. I've tried it before, and I'm going to try it again. I'm declaring war on my inner cynic, and hunting down and killing the inner snark. I might not be able to change others, but I can change myself.