I had a mild existential crisis when I sat down to write this post, and it had nothing to do with the usual response to a news story about artificially intelligent robots (insert stale quip about The Terminator or The Matrix). It had to do with snark.
Each morning, I sit down here at my desk in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and begin looking for story ideas. When I find one—let’s say, a story about a beer fridge that can only be opened by Canadians—I scoop out the most essential news elements, make sure I understand all the details, and then brainstorm some humorous angles (i.e.,“Oh Canada, with your… with your… maple leaves… and your… gravy fries”). You know: snark.
You see, snark is the low-hanging fruit of web journalism. It’s the sardonic dialect of needy millennials competing for the attention of an attention-deficient generation. And I am as guilty as the next writer in using it.
But then this happened—this story—and my usual response hit a brick wall. I felt like Gob (for all you Arrested Development fans), spiraling into a helpless, panicky fit of insecure blather: Should, should, should, should I, should I, should I just, should I just?