Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Snark Meter

In the course of writing this blog, I have come across many comments from people. Most -- I am happy to say -- are positive.

One comment, however, referred to my post on the Rozerem DTC ad campaign ("Rozerem Ads Dis Lincoln, Show Beaver") as "snarky." Since then, I have seen the word used critically against other bloggers, including Peter Rost, "Pharma's Black Knight."

When I first saw the word, I wasn't sure what it meant, but it didn't sound good. So, I "Googled" it. Here are a few definitions I've come up with:
snarky
adj. Slang., -ier, -iest.

1. Rudely sarcastic or disrespectful; snide.
2. Irritable or short-tempered; irascible.

[From dialectal snark, to nag, from snark, snork, to snore, snort, from Dutch and Low German snorken, of imitative origin.]
I think this definition doesn't quite fit me. I mean, c'mon, accusing Rozerem of dissing Lincoln and showing beaver isn't disrespectful, is it? I think that the Rozerem ad itself is disrespectful to Lincoln, if not beavers everywhere! Still, I didn't accuse the ad creators of being "snarky."

If you really want to see some snarky blogging of the worst sort, take a look at Drugwonks. Here are a few recent topics from that snarky blog:

"North Korea, Drug Counterfeiting and Senator Vitter" -- Now that's rudely disrespectful. How else can you describe an attempt to put a US Senator in the same bucket as North Korea?

"A new treatment for a rare lymphoma: Circle of Cancer Cynics Ready to Pounce"

"Ben 'Dr. Doolittle' Bernanke"

"IOM's Silly Drug Safety Study"

And on and on it goes.

Here's another definition of snarky:
Snarky. def. adj. cranky yet vaguely amusing. See also: curmudgeony, cantankerous, impertinent, impudent, audacious, insolent, fresh. Used in context: "His comment was so idiotic, I had no choice but to respond with a snarky comment."
This is closer because I do think I am "vaguely amusing" -- at least I try to be. The sentence above can be turned into a good mission statement for this blog:
Some activities of pharmaceutical advertisers and marketers are so idiotic, I have no choice but to respond with a snarky [vaguely amusing] analysis.
Yet another definition with a bit of history:
The adjective snarky is first recorded in 1906. It is from dialectal British snark, meaning 'to nag, find fault with', which is probably the same word as snark, snork, meaning 'to snort, snore'. (The likely connection is the derisive snorting sound of someone who is always finding fault.) Most dictionaries label snarky as "Chiefly British Slang." But for the last five or more years, it has become increasingly common in American publications, maybe ones infiltrated by British or Canadian writers and journalists.
Now I understand! It's one of those British slang words (not that there's anything wrong with that). I like to use British slang just as well as the next American. Recently, I've picked up on "brilliant," which is a word Brits use when they get their way in negotiations.

I must admit that I do always find faults. Perhaps if more people looked for faults we wouldn't be faced with as many disasters such as the two fatal Shuttle events or the withdrawal of Vioxx from the market.

I think that my fault finding has also helped pharmaceutical marketers. For example, I found fault with the Rozerem marketing people who were not up to snuff when it came to search engine optimization (see "Rozerem Beaver Buzz"). Since then, I've noticed that if you search for "Rozerem commercial" on Google, my post about Lincoln and the beaver is no longer at the top of the list -- the Rozerem product web site is! How about that!

Tell Me What You Think

Which best describes this Blog (check all that apply):
Rudely sarcastic
Disrespectful
Cranky yet vaguely amusing
Fresh
Helpful
Informative

3 comments:

  1. My definition of snarky, a word I try to use as often as possible, is essentially "smart-alecky" with a hint of meanness. When I saw this post, I was REALLY pleased. It's a great word that I credit to my Canadian friends. My only advice is to use it more frequently!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous11:06 AM

    Your poll left out the option that best describes me: "Causes regular eye-rolling, yet you keep reading."

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous12:11 AM

    Think Steely Dan songs when pondering a definition of snarky.

    ReplyDelete