Monday, October 09, 2006

The "House" Effect

As many writers out there, from time to time I visit the famous or infamous (depends on your POV) blog known as Miss Snark, the literary agent. The people who frequently read this blog are called snarklings, and Miss Snark (whoever she really is in the literary world) is an agent with a quick with and a strong sense of humor. Most of the time though not always, a great deal of what she says is useful and informative. Other times we must scroll past pictures of George Clooney which seems to be her fantasy dream - to each their own. She has been and is one of the most powerful and useful voices for would be authors everywhere. I mean that. Her advice is right-on with no punches pulled. (And before I go on - NO I have never had an email to Miss Snark posted or ripped apart.)

However, despite all the truly wonderful knowledge and insight that Miss Snark imparts to tens of thousands of people (with a Google Page Rank of 6 it is certainly within that range of numbers), Miss Snark is just one of the modern personalities that seem to suffer from what I call the "House" effect. "House" is a very popular Television series, which revolves around a doctor called "House" and is brilliantly done. The doctor is an obnoxious personality, who chooses cynicism in his way of dealing with the world around him. It gives him the veneer of God and the ability to hide his own feelings behind a wall of smart-ass comments made at the expense of others.

I have a cousin who for many years suffered from the "House Effect". Oh this cousin was and is funny, charismatic and smart. Actually not such a bad person as people go. But nine times out of ten his jokes were made at the expense of others. People laughed, people rolled. The only person that never thought this cousin was funny was the person who happened to be the butt of the joke at the time. But turn that coin around and make fun of this cousin instead? Oh boy. Forget it. You were called wild, nuts, rude. Forget that possibility.

Miss Snark suffers from the "House" effect from time to time. It is one of my biggest and probably only complaint from this otherwise incredibly useful site and person. It seems to be an effect that has run rampant in the past few years. Making fun of people, of their lack of knowledge, of their inexpertness, of their inability to understand, of their very "new" qualities - seems to be all the rage. The more cynical you can be these days the better off you are. The more you can make a pointed, cynical, and smart comment about someone else's foibles and weaknesses the better you look, the smarter you are.

Miss Snark, who I would hope in real life does not suffer from her overblown ego as it appears in her very knowledgeable and funny blog, is not the only one. There are web sites and blogs popping up all over, that seem to be vying for first place in the cynical-nasty contest. I do not find this pattern something to that should be praised and certainly not emulated.

Perhaps it is time to remember that the only reason House in his TV series gets away with what he says and does is because it is a TV series. Perhaps it is time to remember that cynicism at your fellow person is not cute or funny. That making fun, snide comments, and otherwise cutting someone else up at the expense of their own self worth only to add to your inner pride is not a lofty goal.

Perhaps it is time for a bit of compassion and kindness. By all means - Be cynical. Be funny. Be cute. Make people laugh. Impart knowledge. Help others. But never forget that one day you are going to be fodder for someone else who is just that much more cynical and witty than you are. And when you do - remember how it feels.

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Edited With Qumana


Harbormaster said...

It's a little like being too close to your work. It's not very easy to find fault in your own little world...

Thomma Lyn said...

Hi, Teddy! Good post, and thought-provoking. Like you, I enjoy Miss Snark's blog; she's a great help to aspiring writers.

But you're right; the "House Effect" isn't something that ought to be emulated, certainly not when people seek to build themselves up by tearing other people down.