I'm a snarky son of a....wonderful woman, my mother is a Saint. But I can be snarky, difficult, stubborn, and sometimes mean (when I'm mean, it almost always comes from a place of humor that misses the mark). But, when I go down that path, I try to consider what I'm adding to the world.
To that end, I've created a 5:1 ratio for myself. 1 use of snark, cynicism, or sarcasm needs to be followed with 5 acts of constructive critique, good will, and friendly contribution. Sometimes, the opportunity is too good to not reply with snark, but if I avoid it, it also puts me on a path to positivity, and I've found this keeps me from going too negative, too often.
Sometimes, too, I find my ratio keeps me from saying something, rethinking sending an email, or refraining from commenting at all on a blog, Q&A post, or social media platform (where despite trillions of pieces of content existing, not a single mind having ever been changed!), simply because I don't have the time or headspace to do 5 positive acts to follow. In these instances, no snark for me today!
It's a fine line. I enjoy sarcastic humor, and others enjoy my sarcastic humor - I wouldn't want to deprive them. But I know if I go to the well too often, the well doesn't go dry, it turns into an ugly, bitter place, reflecting an ugly, bitter heart.
The qualities I love most in other people are kindness, optimism, confidence, and I'd like to better reflect those qualities in myself, so the 5:1 ratio helps me with that.
Will I still crack a joke or make a critique? I sure will. But will I try to more often come from a place of assistance, contribution, constructive critique, and friendship? I think I can do that, too.