The Age Of Snark© Article

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Ladies and gentlemen, it is my sad duty to inform you that we are living in an age of the least desirable, most ignorant, totally self-absorbed, pompous beyond belief, deluded into thinking information is knowledge, and intellectually stultifying energy vampires powered by an indispensable technology that should enlighten, but for the most part creates chaos.

Yes, friends, we are unquestionably living in The Age Of Snark©.

Don't get me wrong. Snark has always been around. Historians point to Paul Lynde and beyond. Oscar Wilde. You name 'em. The snarky have always lived among us.

But our current civilization doesn't just have snark. It WORSHIPS snark. Cultivates it. Elevates it. Snark is more important than brains or facts or reality or...well, anything. With the slight exception of even MORE snark.

And while we're on the subject, GET ME ALONE WITH THE GRUMPY CAT. Why am I supposed to be intimidated or give a flying crap about a flat-faced, bug-eyed cat? I can put that meme to a stop pretty damn quick.

Visit the comments section on any news story you see. Or maybe check out your own Facebook news feed. Or a message board somewhere. You will see living examples of The Age Of Snark© spewing forth as if from a geyser of the lowest common denominator.

Here are the reminder signs of your Age Of Snark©. So you'll know how to spot them on the internet, but also in personal conversations, reality shows, and of course, on Maury.

Accomplishments mean absolutely nothing. Zip. Zero. This is an actual quote from an ESPN message board: "Michael Jordan sucked. LeBron would own him."

OK. This is just silliness. Of course it's reasonable to believe LeBron James is a better player than Michael Jordan. It is not a ludicrous sports discussion. But there are two problems.

1. If your justification is "Michael Jordan sucked" then you have a big mountain to climb when the other person points out the six championships, etc. In other words, UNREASONABLE CLAIMS because, of course, accomplishments mean nothing.

2. This was posted by the Sports Director of a newspaper. Yep. Town of over 100,000. Otherwise, I would have just blown by it as just another dummy. But this was a special kind of dummy.

I asked, "If Michael Jordan sucked, how did he get those titles and all those records?"

Answer: "Nobody played D back then."

Accomplishments mean nothing in The Age Of Snark©.

I hear all the time that either George Bush or Barack Obama are an idiot.

Idiot? Really? Even if you don't agree with their ideology, you DO realize that each one of them attained the most powerful politically elected position on the face of the planet, right? Do you really think you can be an idiot and be elected president TWICE? Idiot?

Accomplishments mean nothing in The Age Of Snark©.

Maybe it's the video games that make championships--or even playing one second of a pro sport, or even being elected to a Congressional seat, or even getting a starring role on a major TV show, or even being named superintendent of a school district, or getting a medical degree, or any number of other achievements the average person could not accomplish--so easily wiped away with a shrug of the shoulders by practicing snarksters.

The reality that someone else achieved something superlative in the real, tangible, actual world never dawns on them.

Unreasonable is the new black. Currently, I'm involved in covering Greg Theakston getting ripped off by The Kirby Museum.

If someone doesn't agree with me, fine. But some of the claims of these Kirby fanboys are hilarious. One guy keeps claiming Greg Theakston has claimed to be a blood relative of The Kirbys. Never happened. One of the groups believes that if you like Stan Lee, you should pretty much just be shot. If you like Stan Lee, you are forever banished from their Jack Kirby group--and they automatically believe you HATE Jack Kirby.

In their minds, there is no universe where you can like both Lee & Kirby, and any less than positive statement about Jack Kirby is referred to as "sliming" Jack. It's actually kind of humorous in a sad "why is that kid eating school paste?" kind of way.

They even make up little demeaning nicknames for former members who've strayed from the flock. Like the small group of Babylon 5 fans at that one lunch table nobody else talks to. They live in a world of their own making. Not particularly a world binding on reality, but their own little world.

They will claim I've never contacted the museum, or asked them questions, or offered to allow them on my show. I'll say, "Actually, I did all those things." They'll ask me to prove it. I quote the actual emails from the media contact for the museum. "You could have made those up."

Jesus Christ himself could come from out of the sky and directly tell these people something, and they would want to do a lot more than put their fingers in his wounds. They'd want some of his DNA and a report from the Pope and a medical examiner.

There's a point at which you've provided an avalanche of proof and the snarksters just keep asking for more. More. More. You could literally have an infinite mountain and it would never satisfy them.

There is no more such thing as unreasonable. ANY behavior can be justified or rationalized, and thus is acceptable.

The thing they don't get is that when you refuse to acknowledge that your ideological opponents even have an opinion, you are unable to spot the actual real holes in it. That's how you get run through without any armor, intellectually, in The Age Of Snark©, snarksters.

Idiots are experts. My friend Brian Davis hosts an awesome radio program called The Tate-LaBianca Radio Program. He's good at the naming thing.

So, like all the shows I do, I check out that particular "world" on the internet. The various blogs and message boards. For a while, more than one podcast. Like all "worlds" on the internet, there are factions and imbroglios and schools of thought and theories and friendly disagreements and blood hatreds.

And these little fiefdoms inbreed expertise among their little factions. In other words, as their little minds become more and more myopic, they listen to no one but themselves. The loudest screech becomes the expert.

In this Tate-LaBianca world, there's a classic example of Idiots As Experts. Someone stepped forward online, claiming to have been at the Spahn Ranch--a biker named Cutter--and knew Charlie Manson and all the gang.

One of the various blogs--and its "expert"--jumped on the story. Ballyhooed this important and previously undiscovered witness to history. Except for one thing.

Cutter's accounts, if you started doing the math on his age and various events, didn't make any sense at all. It was a total hoax. One that even a child could have seen through. But the "expert" could not. Why?

Because being an internet "expert" doesn't require you to have any journalistic expertise. Verification. Authentication.

The big thing, though, is that when you are a zealot, you cannot see the facts. You can only see what supports your belief.

And that's the difference between an idiot and an expert. Idiots ignore everything but what they believe, while experts believe everything they can prove. Not a lot of that going on around the civilization at present.

Of course, maybe there's a good reason coming up in the next section...

Facts don't exist anymore. Go online and announce on your Facebook page that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

I bet you a dollar somebody comes onto that post and has to add their two cents. "Well, water WILL freeze at that temperature, but it's dependent on the volume..." or "Actually, water technically begins to melt at that temperature, but only as it reaches 33 degrees, so it's a myth that 32 is where it freezes--32 is just where it isn't freezing or melting..." or whatever.

Claim that Abe Lincoln was a senator from Illinois and you could possibly run into a guy who claims Abe Lincoln didn't exist until a press clipping in 1914. You'll shrug him off as crazy. He'll send you a link to his website. It'll have videos on it. Plus a bunch of quotes from a PhD at Harvard.

Then he'll challenge you to find some proof Abe Lincoln was a real person. You'll again shrug him off as bonkers. "What kind of parakeet poop-eating crazy lost soul believes this stuff?" you wonder as you chuckle smugly to yourself.

Until you go to his FB page on the issue and see that he has 17,493 followers.

Which brings up the next problem...

Dullards with like-minded cohorts. Everybody, and I mean everybody, with a bent noggin can find a welcoming group of equally brain-broken buddies on the internet.

Start crunching the numbers, kids. Even if you have just .01% of the US population? You're talking over 30,000 people. Now add the global population. Or even just English-speaking.

There are nutcases in numbers on the internet. And they can run in a pack together around the only other people on earth who can tolerate them. Those who share their particular "anti-social" view of things.

Oh, how we long for the days when the Fruit Loop logic types had to swim upstream by themselves. Now, of course, they have the aforementioned slick website and a social media strategy aimed at people who just suffered a head trauma--and therefore might be more susceptible to their messaging.

Say goodbye to a standard of behavior. I posted online just after Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs killed his girlfriend, and ultimately himself. I still cannot believe some of the emails and comments I received.

"You weren't there. You don't know what she said to him." WHAT SHE SAID TO HIM??? I know he shot her nine times in front of his mom.

"We don't know what their relationship was like. There are two sides to every story. She might have been pushing his buttons." PUSHING HIS BUTTONS? He's a rich pro athlete. Don't like her? SPLIT. Find another girl who'll put up with your crap. You don't KILL people because they "push your buttons."

But no. In the Age Of Snark©, all opinions have merit and are equal in value. There is no logical standard of behavior. There is no big picture recognition of the behavior as a whole, or a reasonable standard of response.

Make no mistake, people of earth, we are living in an unmistakable Age Of Snark where preening and bombast mean more than reality and fact.

I have an opinion on that, but I'll keep it to myself for the moment.

It's pretty snarky, and I don't want to throw another dump truck load on that mountain in front of me.

Tom Gulley (recipient of the David Letterman Scholarship) is an award-winning writer, broadcaster, and journalist who regularly creates brilliant communications for some of the world’s biggest companies. Especially the ones you admire. He’s available for writing, creative strategy, digital communications, talk show hosting, voice talent work, kid’s birthday parties, and free 24-hour Martinizing. And his name never fails to get a big laugh when mentioned in small groups at parties.

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