If there’s a generational text for us millennial Twitter-using opinion-having Internet denizens of the 2010s, it’s Tom Scocca’s “On Smarm.” It was the manifesto not just for Gawker Media but for the whole wave of New Media that Gawker was the vanguard of. Everyone I knew shared the hell out of it when it was written, to the point that my writing a response to it almost feels like blasphemy.
“On Smarm” was one of those rare, epiphanic moments when someone says in a single piece what we’ve all been thinking, muttering, appending as snarky asides onto tweeted links.
Scocca spoke on behalf of all us Internet geeks who felt besieged by smiles. 2012 was a year of splashy exciting victories for our tribe. Obama won in a landslide! The third-highest-grossing film of all time was directed by Joss Whedon! We had an Arab Spring! December came and went and the world did not end (cue unfunny joke about the Mayans)!
Scocca spoke for everyone who didn’t think the massive rotting structure that was American politics, mass-media entertainment, conflicts in the Middle East or the inevitable march of entropy were somehow defeated because it seemed like “the good guys” were winning. He spoke for everyone who thought they were fighting for actual change in 2008 and were instead given a “change of tone.” He spoke for everyone who was “snarky”–mocking, cutting, sarcastic, skeptical, cynical–in the face of “smarm.”