the candler blog

Tom Scocca Gives Smarm its Due

Writing

Tom Scocca at Gawker:

Snark is often conflated with cynicism, which is a troublesome misreading. Snark may speak in cynical terms about a cynical world, but it is not cynicism itself. It is a theory of cynicism.

The practice of cynicism is smarm.

The piece is long and at times meandering, but it is decidedly important.

I haven’t published here in awhile and have thrown out too many drafts trying to explain why. Scocca gets it. Nails it.

The result of this approach, the Upworthy house style, is a coy sort of emulation of English, stripped of actual semantic content: This Man Removed the Specific and the Negative, and What Happened Next Will Astonish You. Even Upworthy’s fellow participants in the ongoing SEO race to the bottom are horrified. But it works, in the sense that people who do not want to think about actual things or read any information will reliably share Upworthy stories.

More content than ever is flung my way on a daily basis, yet most of it feels like junk. So I refrain. I disengage. I stop reading and, of late, writing. Because what’s the point?

There is far too much garbage in this world that I know far too much about. I feel like I’m doggy-paddling upstream.

This is a gross over-generalization. There is much great writing available to me, but the echo chamber of the Internet can overwhelm and disenfranchise. Yet when I keep quiet I am but an enabler of the proliferation of thoughtless nonsense.

So let me try, then, not to keep quiet.

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