Tom Socca explores the world snark and smarm at Gawker:
There is a consensus, or something that has assumed the tone of a consensus, that we are living, to our disadvantage, in an age of snark—that the problem of our times is a thing called “snark.”
[and then there is smarm – “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” meme. ]
The word, as used now, is a fairly recent addition to the language, and it is not always entirely clear what “snark” may be. But it’s an attitude, and a negative attitude—a “hostile, knowing, bitter tone of contempt,” is how Heidi Julavits described it in 2003, while formally bestowing the name of “snark” on it, in the inaugural issue of The Believer.
Smarm, on the other hand, is never a force for good. A civilization that speaks in smarm is a civilization that has lost its ability to talk about purposes at all. It is a civilization that says “Don’t Be Evil,” rather than making sure it does not do evil.
Read it all here. Is there a way to discuss issues that allows hard truths but is not demeaning to the other? In church?