There’s a new occupation in the world, and it’s not a good one. I’m not even sure what to label this “profession,” but the closest I come up with is professional snarkologist.
These are the talking heads on radio and TV, magazine writers and bloggers, whose job consists of finding pop culture phenomenon and tearing them down with snarky comments and droll insults.
They will suggest the top ten on American Idol, X Factor or The Voice couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. They’re quick to find the plot flaws in the latest worldwide blockbuster. They are the first to alert you that the new bestseller by your favorite author has missed the mark.
They desperately want to convince you how crass, ignorant and stupid everyone else is, and how clever, discerning, and superior they are. In actuality, they are simply demonstrating their bitterness and frustration at not being able to create art themselves.
I remember watching the series finale of The Newsroom with tears in my eyes, thinking what a brilliant leap forward television had taken with that series. Fifteen minutes later I clicked a link on Twitter to find a Grantland.com takedown, filled with backhanded compliments, hateful quips and unbridled scorn.
Game of Thrones is the most successful television show in the world. And it’s become that on HBO, a premium, subscription-only cable channel. Yet there are entire sites and program segments devoted to tearing apart every episode. (Just as there was for The Sopranos, LOST, The Wire and every other breakout hit that took artistic risks and captured the imagination of the population.) You can see it happening again with the FOX series Empire and the spin off music. There are snarkologists already explaining why the new Star Wars movie is a bust, based on their expert analysis of the trailer.
You can make the argument that there is a legitimate need for art critics. Not sure I buy the argument, but at least you can make it. There is no argument you can make for the purpose of the snarkologists. They are simple clickbait agitators in this new, sensationalistic world, pandering to your basest instincts, drawing eyeballs with their contrived controversy, hateful babble, and snarky asides.
Skepticism can be a virtue, because it comes from critical thinking. But you never want to be cynical. Because cynicism creates a negative default view of everything, sucking the joy, light and adventure from your life.
This type of poison is contagious. It permeates your consciousness and and darkens your view of everything. The snarkologists come from the depths of cynicism. Be very mindful how much exposure you allow yourself to them.