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The Death of Snark

I don't want to say the internet reached its tipping point this week, because that's a bit extreme, but it does seem that we have crossed a bit of a blogger threshold. No longer content with mocking celebrities and athletes, the blogorati turned its attention to a middle aged woman in North Dakota and set its phasers to "snark".

If you haven't seen the now infamous Olive Garden review, it's definitely worth a read. There are few things which are easier to mock than crappy generic chain restaurants, especially ones that are supposed to somehow replicate ethnic cuisine. You don't need me to tell you that the Olive Garden sucks - yet somehow we've all eaten there. It sucks in a comforting and familiar way. It's not a place you go, it's a place you end up.

But I have not come to bury Marilyn Hagerty, but to praise her. What has been her response to thousands of people making fun of her and her earnest review of terrible Italian food?

"Yesterday morning the phone started ringing and messages started going up, and I had no clue what it was all about. These people were making fun of me...and then I thought, so what?" said Hagerty.

Good for her.

Look, I'm not going to say I don't love snark. We've gotten more mileage out of the Sad Greenie than Jeff Foxworthy's gotten out of rednecks. Some things absolutely deserve to be mocked, and the blogosphere is pretty good at identifying those things. The sadly defunct Fire Joe Morgan was a glorious snark machine used for the forces of good.

But when we've started mocking eighty-somethings for being excited about an Olive Garden opening up in Nowheresville, North Dakota, we've gone too far. That's not in the spirit of fun, that's just being a jerk.

Bloggers are in danger of becoming the Internet version of the Mean Girls, ready to put down anyone who dares express an earnest emotion. And that's a real tragedy, as the whole point of these things is to create a diversity of voices. We should be encouraging more people to be honest and a little goofy, not less.

It's South by Southwest week here in Texas, and I genuinely love SXSW. We're not making the drive to Austin this year because the Posette is eight months pregnant and the idea of running from show to show sounds pretty awful to her. Instead, we'll live vicariously through her sister, and just buy the CD. Austin is a beautiful town which genuinely supports the arts, and SXSW is an event to truly be proud of. Sure, the industry bigwigs have their events, but SXSW really belongs to those of us on Fifth Street trying to sneak into the Mohawk's back door to see the Black Keys (not that I've ever done that).

The one thing I won't miss though, is overly self-conscious hipsters. With all of this free music and free beer, you'd think every show would be like the best party you've ever been to, but there is far too much standing in the back with your arms crossed, silently judging anyone who seems to be having too much of a good time. The skinny jeans and backpack crowd can dismissively look down their nose at people just as well as anyone else.

As a culture, we've just become addicted to snark. It's like having a genuine human experience might kill us. In an era drenched in irony, the only true sin is being too earnest. We're spending too much time tut-tutting everyone else's faux pas to truly go out and enjoy things.

And this is supposed to be fun.

Not just sports, but the internet, and this blog. We're hardly making the world a better place by making Altered Beast jokes whenever an LSU running back busts off a big run, but we are trying to make it okay to be goofy and genuinely enjoy things. Stop being so damn self-conscious, people.

Forget the world is watching and go out and dance, despite what the cross-armed hipsters say. Wear your favorite jersey to the game, despite what fan fashionistas bark. Believe whole heartedly, and pay no mind to the nattering nabobs of negativity in the fanbase. And write glorious odes to the Olive Garden, despite what various jackasses like myself have to write about it.

There's a whole wide world out there, let's not forget to enjoy it.