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The Snark Factor: An examination of my blogging conscience

I entered the blogging world in 2006. It is hard to believe it has been almost eight years. This blog has gone through several iterations and I am sure will continue to evolve as long as I continue writing.

When I first discovered the Catholic blogosphere, I was so excited. I devoured blog after blog. Here was a community that shared my commitment to the Church in a way I didn't always see in my local parish. I jumped right in and made many friends. Many I have had the good fortune to meet in person.

Reflecting on these years of blogging I find that I am not reading near as many other bloggers as I used to. I am also not writing on my own blog as much as I used to. Some of this is because much of what used to show up on blogs is now showing up on Facebook. I am also now getting paid for much of what I write so things that I would post on my blog are being shifted to income generating venues.

But there is also a darker side to my slight retreat from the online blogging community. Since 2006 we have gone through two presidential elections, numerous local elections, and social upheaval from a growing secular culture that is hostile to religion. We are a society that is starkly polarized into "us" and "them". With that, bloggers including myself, have often devolved into purveyors of snark. It just feels so good to publish that zinger that exposes the opposition to be a pathetic caricature of lies and evil. But is that Christian?

There is no doubt that there is a great deal of evil around us. All the efforts to diminish the sanctity of life anywhere along the continuum from conception to natural death can only be described as evil. All of the efforts to undermine the dignity of marriage between one man and one woman are truly evil acts. The dehumanization of children by regarding them as nothing more than acquisitions to be obtained for the pleasure of adults is unquestionably evil.

Yet I only add more evil when I fail to respect the human dignity of those with whom I disagree. Disagreement actually seems like a woeful understatement. I am repulsed by their utilitarian philosophies. I abhor their arrogance in thinking they are wise enough to decide who is worthy to live and who should die. I resent their twisting of Church teaching to mislead and justify evil. Even so, as a Christian, I am called to see the face of Christ in each of their faces. It is a wounded, suffering face. And I am called to love them and help them heal. No healing occurs with the application of snark. Instead, wounds are ripped open wide and the pain and suffering only deepens.

Snark is a great tool for whipping those with whom we agree into a frenzy of righteous anger. And we should feel angry every time someone who is strong and powerful exploits someone who is weak and vulnerable. But our response must not be an angry response but one of love. Not necessarily the hearts and rainbow love that is just happy feelings, but the intentional tough love that demands we speak the truth. Spoken clearly. Spoken joyfully. Spoken with charity. Too often snark just begets more snark.

So I am trying to be more aware of when my reading and writing is leading me down the dark road of hurtful sniping and sarcasm. Hopefully I will be open to the Grace of the Holy Spirit and my work will exude more love than snark. There is nothing wrong with expressing passion and even anger. But the people who ignite my ire are still children of God made in the image of God. Perhaps that is why so many saints found strength in contemplating the face of Jesus. Keeping His suffering countenance in mind makes it easier to see Him in the faces of those we call friends and, more importantly, those we call foes.


Rosemary Bogdan said…
Well said! Something I must repeatedly remind myself!

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