Big Rowan Ackison (greensh) wrote,
Big Rowan Ackison

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The Shadow of Snark

My lovely mate and I had an insightful conversation recently. It is not unusual that it was insightful though! (smile). We were talking about the thread of snarky comments in some online neopagan communities. Those with alternative beliefs or almost-right (but not quite!) bases of knowledge are quick targets for those with pointed words. Two grounds for snarking are humor and guardianship. These have rightful places in human behavior. They can also be abused mightingly.

I'll admit there is an entertainment factor here. The late-night talk show hosts are famous for skewering the latest person in the news. Likewise, neopagans do have the right to laugh at themselves. That said, the tone of the snark too often shifts from humor to ridicule. It's one to thing to slap each other on the back in appreciation of human frailties. It is another thing to be holding daggers while patting backsides.

Why snark other than for the humor/sarcasm element? My mate and I spoke about how some people snark in a way that protects their traditions or belief systems. A person can become a target of snarking by making statements that misrepresent a larger group of people. Those with invested interests react protectively, striking out at beliefs that they feel endanger their worlds. There is a place for this. Reputations are difficult to mend. Methods and procedures exist for a reason. Guardianship is a honorable exercise.

Guardianship also asks for discernment, personal/group humility, and understanding of the difference between the words and the meaning. Allow me to spin an analogy here to explain the prior sentence. Let's say that guardianship is equivalent to protecting your house. The house has important stuff that must be protected from those who would desecrate and take the spiritual treasures. A guardian could wait until the intruder is in the house, or at the very most, already trespassed past the barred gate. This is appropriate. The crasser alternative would climb to the top of the house and snipe at those walking through the neighborhood. The victims would have little or no interest in the contents of the guardian's house, but the guardian's attitude prompts them to strike out at all those in sight.

How does this fit together? What is a 'bad' snark? I want to be clear that all snarks are not bad. There is a place for this behavior both online and in person. My partial reflection finds little appealing about dark humor combining with poor guardianship. First the guardianship angle. The irony of the situation is that a good guardian is rarely seen or heard. They wait until the time is right and then take action that eliminates or educates the perp. It is the less-good guardians that publicly execute their perceived trespassers.

The snarky humor is supposed to be funny, but is a person's spiritual identity the right fodder for other people's yucks? It is this element that makes some snarks so dark. Does the openness of neopaganism turn into flippancy when other neopagans' religious/spiritual beliefs are open to debasement and ridicule? Jeezum, I would think that the neopagan would know something about persecution. If guardianship is not a factor, and the possibility of harm to others is not at issue, why do we tickle our fancies with picking at the sub-minority of the 'yet to be educated'?

There are many reasons to snark. Some reasons are honorable enough and others are illustrations of human frailties. Shoot, this very article could be considered snarky. There is much more to this topic, but I felt driven to speak of humor and guardianship today. I honor both. It is my wish that both would be applied with a gratitude for what we have and support for what others are attempting to achieve.
Tags: neopagan, snark

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