Snarky Sells

Snarkysnarky [snärkē] adj.
sarcastic, impertinent or irreverent in tone or manner 

Do you know anyone who is snarky? If there was a picture of snarky in the dictionary, it would probably be of the comedian David Spade. When I was in college, he was the king of snarky. Every character he played on Saturday Night Live and in the movies was sarcastic, impertinent and irreverent. To be snarky is to be bitingly sarcastic, almost to the point of meanness.

Our world today loves snarkiness.

Snarkiness is funny – at least when it’s not directed at you. Snarky sells. Just look at all the cable news shows and faux news shows in which every other word drips with venomous sarcasm. If you agree with their politics, you find them amusing and witty. If you disagree with them, you find them bitter and unbearable.

Snarkiness has that effect on people.

Snarkiness seldom convinces anyone of anything. If a person disagrees with you, a snarky remark will probably not help them see your side of the issue. The people who enjoy snarky remarks are those who already agree with you and want to zing those who disagree.

Why am I bringing this up? More and more on the internet and in the media, I hear and read Christians being snarky about hot button issues – homosexuality, gender issues and the like. Snarky blogs and comments get shared through Facebook and Twitter. In the impersonal world of the internet, sarcasm and mean spiritedness reign.

When it comes to Christians speaking out on important issues, however, is it wise to be snarky? If our goal is to be a loving witness to the world, it is not enough to be right. As my father used to always tell us when we were kids, “It’s not what you said. It’s how you said it.”

The Apostle Paul encouraged us to build each other up by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). There is a time and a place for zingers and sarcastic retorts. Witnessing to the world is not one of those times. A loving discussion among Christians about doctrinal differences is not one of those times.

What is the purpose of a snarky remark but to mock the person with whom you disagree? Is that love? Does that help the other person see what you are saying?

The problem is snarky sells. If you have a blog and are witty enough, you can rile up the troops with sarcasm. Your posts will go viral. Your supporters will smile and nod in agreement.

But that isn’t our purpose as Christians. We aren’t out to make those who disagree with us look like fools. Jesus did not call us to help other Christians feel superior. He called us to share the truth of his Word boldly and in love.

Remember that the next time you think about sharing a snarky Christian blog on Facebook. Remember that as you post your comments or get involved in doctrinal discussion online. It’s not enough to be right. Speak the truth in love.


  2 comments for “Snarky Sells

  1. X
    December 9, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    So do you condemn Lutheran Satire, and Pr. Fiene’s presentation about the use of snark?

    • schroera
      December 9, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      First of all, thanks for sharing the link. I enjoyed his presentation. I didn’t listen to all of it, but I think I got the gist. Another day I’ll watch it from beginning to end.
      To be clear, I enjoy a lot of what is on Lutheran Satire. I find it incredibly amusing. I also agree with most of what Pastor Fiene says. I stress “most.” I think satire and “snark” have their place. My issue is that 1) even according to the definition he gave, being “snarky” is being rude and how does that mesh with speaking the truth in love? and 2) The use of snarkiness specifically in discussions on Facebook and other social media do not allow for physical cues that are important in communication. You might mean your statement playfully and if you were speaking face to face, that would be obvious, but in an online discussion or texting it is not. The place for snarkiness is when the audience understands the spirit in which it is intended (which should be to playfully point out an obvious error – and NOT tear down or belittle). If that is not the case. If it is used to belittle or gives the impression of being rude, then it should not be used. I think in the end, Pastor Fiene and I agree that there is a time and place for it. I think he would see a wider use for it. I am bit more hesitant (especially in online discussions).
      But to answer your question, I do not condemn Lutheran Satire. In fact, I enjoy it immensely (though sometimes I wonder if they go a little too far…).

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