Yes, snarky is a slang term, and it’s listed in my dictionary as chiefly a British slang term meaning testy or irritable. But here in the USA it is alive and well, generally defined as finding fault. It is in general use in the Christian community, mostly as seen in the snarky comments delivered from one Christian to another, chiefly with the purpose of making the speaker look witty and the recipient look foolish.
Snarkiness is different from straight-up criticism, because criticism at least owns its intent. Snarkiness tries to disguise itself as something else, and the snarky person may even think he is just keeping everyone in his place, a job no doubt given him by the Holy Spirit. “If someone is getting too successful, just knock him down a notch.” Isn’t that a verse somewhere in the Bible?
Now we can all probably remember when we’ve gotten a snarky comment from someone. I see them all the time. Some little kid may win a drawing contest, and the older kids (who did not win) make fun of him. It’s easy enough to think a snarky thought, but an adult should learn to not let it come out his mouth. But adults do it more than kids do, and my theory is because adults are better at envy and criticism than little kids are. They used to be, in fact, those little kids who tormented the littler kids on the playground. They grew up, got respectable jobs, and continue to hone their snarkiness skills. They can whip off with the snarky comment, email, text, or twitter to put just about anyone in their place. What a spiritual gift!
But though it is easy to remember when you’ve received a snarky comment, how easy is it to remember the ones you’ve dished out? We are to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Sometimes the former is much harder than the latter. It’s easy to cluster around when someone is hurting. But how easy is it to rejoice with the competition when they succeed? If you have a hard time rejoicing, then you may have identified the problem. Our Christian brothers and sisters are not the competition. We are on the same team. And you know what we all think of the teammate who is riding all the others on the team. No one likes it and no one likes him.
Clearly we are to extend forgiveness to those who are snarky to us. We are to brush it off, laugh it off, ignore it, and then move on. And if we’ve been snarky to others, then of course we need to seek their forgiveness. Then we should ask God to (1) help us identify those moments when we are dying to let off a real smartie, and (2) give us the grace to hold our tongues and admonish our own hearts.
It’s a big world out there. We are either building up our brothers and sisters, or we are tearing them down. Guess which side snarkiness is on? Is that the side you want to be on?