"Talks a good game about freedom when out of power, but once he’s in – bam! Everyone's enslaved in the human-flourishing mines."

Ten Things I Want To Stop Seeing On The Internet In 2014

1. The word “fanboy”

“Fangirl” is a perfectly acceptable word with an illustrious history; it simply means a young woman who enjoys good literature and who may or may not have married Snape on the astral plane.

“Fanboy” – as used in terms like “Microsoft fanboy” or “Bitcoin fanboy” – is not. The basic assumption is: you like a thing, therefore you suck.

Seriously, f@&k people who like things.

2. The word “butthurt”

“Butthurt” is one of those magic words that completely suspends human decency.

For example, suppose a headline reads: “Jewish community saddened over swastika graffiti on synagogue”. You might make the mistake of feeling sympathetic to these Jews, or believing they’re human beings whose feelings matter.

So we change the headline to “Jewish community butthurt over swastika graffiti on synagogue.” Haha! Stupid Jewish community! Always getting butthurt over stuff!

(Even better: “Torah fanboys butthurt over swastika graffiti on synagogue.”)

3. People saying “Just because there’s a cold spell or worse-than-average blizzard doesn’t mean global warming is false!”

This is, of course, completely true and very important. On the other hand, the moment there is a warm spell or worse-than-average hurricane, these very same people immediately start talking about how this proves global warming is real. So this argument is now banned. Once you learn to consistently separate single data points from meaningful trends, I will allow you to use it again.

I realize my stance may result in the Earth becoming a giant cinder and everyone being boiled alive, but it’s the principle of the thing.

4. Doge

All memes go through three stages.

In the first stage, a mildly amusing image or video catches some people’s attention and they show it to others. For example, someone notices a hilarious translated sequence involving the phrase “All your base is belong to us” and email it to friends.

In the second stage, people riff on this theme to create other similar memes, some of which occasionally have comedic value. For example, a chemistry site might say “All your alkaline is belong to us”. Or a math book teaching hexadecimal might say “All your base 16 are below to us.” Okay. Fine.

In the third stage, people abandon all pretense of humor or creativity, and expect to be rewarded merely for mentioning the meme’s existence to other people equally aware of it. “HEY! GUYS! ALL YOUR BASE IS BELONG TO US! LAUNCH EVERY ZIG FOR GREAT JUSTICE! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

I’m not sure doge ever actually had stage one or two.

5. Meta-humor

Someone reading this post right now is thinking “I’m going to post in the comments that I think Scott is acting butthurt over these Internet things he’s criticizing! And then I’m going to call him a fanboy of something!” Even after reading this paragraph, somebody is going to try this.

Listen very closely. There is a time and a place for meta-humor, the sort of humor where you try to be funny by applying something to itself. The time is when you are Douglas Hoftstadter. And the place is in a Douglas Hofstadter book.

In all other situations, it is so algorithmic a computer could do it, and so obvious the people you are trying to amuse will have no doubt already thought of it.

Somewhere in a volcano lair, there is a supervillain working on a doge meme that says “SO DOGE. MUCH MEME. MANY COMIC SANS.” I just hope some government agency is assembling a team of plucky misfits to stop him.

6. Appeal to “I bet he lives in his mother’s basement!”

Get it! He’s poor! He has low socio-economic status! Haha! That’s funny!

7. “Dude”, “bro”, or God forbid, “dudebro”

I had no problems with “dude” when its use was limited to cowboys, surfers, and giant anthropomorphic turtles. And I had no problem with “bro” when it was used by members of fraternities to refer to their brothers in those fraternities.

But somehow when I wasn’t looking these words turned into things Internet feminists call anyone they dislike. The usual referent seems to be geeks and people who disagree with them about gender issues. I can only imagine the picture the average Internet feminist must have of fraternities to allow this state of affairs to continue:

“Hey, Chad, let’s go grab a brewski and pick up some hot chicks!”

“Bro, that sounds totally awesome, but you know I’m busy writing a Haskell program to determine whether the gender pay gap disappears once you adjust for confounders. Wooooo!”

“Whoa, Chad, you never told me you were WRITING A F@&KING HASKELL PROGRAM TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE GENDER PAY GAP DISAPPEARS ONCE YOU ADJUST FOR CONFOUNDERS! F@&k chicks and brewskis, I’m staying here to help you out! DELTA CHI, ALL THE WAY! WOOOO!”

Obviously none of the people involved have ever seen the inside of a university, and although on its own that just proves that the college admissions people are marginally competent at their jobs, I can’t help but wonder how this rumor got started. Has some ultra-high-level troll just been going around telling people this is how colleges work? If so, kudos to you.

Now stop it. Now.

8. Arguments about which generation is better

This generation is made entirely of upstanding, noble folk who made this country great. But that generation is made entirely of whining, entitled brats who are destroying everything their ancestors and/or descendants worked for. Clearly that means this generation is better than that generation!

9. Hating on girls with male friends

“Haha, how about those girls who say they prefer to be ‘one of the guys’ or that most of their friends are male, huh? Isn’t that always a huge warning sign?”

I see this so often, most recently on Reddit. “Never trust a girl who doesn’t have female friends” or “They don’t get along with other girls because they themselves are usually bitches”, just to choose two comments from the thread on this pressing issue.

Well, I’m the male version of this. Most of my friends are girls. This is none of your business. And if a girl does the same thing, that’s none of your business either.

Also, people trying to earn your social justice halo by calling this “a big red flag for internalized misogyny”? You would be a lot more believable if you didn’t add “…and I bet they’re huge sluts” in the very next sentence.

In conclusion, I propose a compromise:

1. Girls can make friends with whoever the f@#k they want.
2. Go to hell.

(I am not very good at compromises)

10. Doge memes referencing the actual doge of Venice

I really should have included this in with doge memes in general, or with meta-humor. Yet here it is in its own category.

Look. I don’t know why you choose to misspell “dog” as “doge”. I’m sure you have your reasons. But once you’ve deliberately confused the word for a small furry animal with the word for the ruler of Venice, then acting like you are extremely clever for pointing out that the ruler of Venice is also spelled like the ruler of Venice is not “edgy” or “creative”. It’s like…taking a picture of a bale of hay, misspelling it “ball” instead of “bale”, and then jumping up and down excited because you suddenly realized “ball” is also the word meaning “ball”. No one would possibly try this, right?

And yet it has come to this (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

And if twelve images of one doge aren’t enough for you, somebody kindly decided to make one image of twelve doges. Which got picked up by the Washington Post. You know, I remember when the Washington Post was uncovering the Watergate Scandal. Now they are talking about how funny it is that doge can also, in some cases, mean doge.

Well, now it is 2014, and this sort of thing is no longer acceptable. Up your game, Internet. Up your game.

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258 Responses to Ten Things I Want To Stop Seeing On The Internet In 2014

  1. Generational conflicts: I’ve been noticing that I’ve been getting very angry both at claims that the millennial generation has some kind of problems (usu. cited are entitled, has been misled by various agents into having high expectations, thinks that education means automatic upper-middle-class, etc) and at the typical millennial generation defenses to those claims (which are usually written from a fairly left-wing point of view, usually don’t directly respond to the former, and usually center around complaints that the previous generations/ruling classes have screwed them over).
    My own views include that the millennial generation has lived all its life in total peace and tends to have a fairly low threshold for adversity. (which is a benefit and a weakness) plus it has not been raised with deep culture. I tend to end up agreeing with all of them, though, rather than disagreeing.

    Fanboy: I’ve noticed that fangirl can be a gerund, Fangirling, but never heard of fanboy having that.

    Dudebro: I heard someone somewhere say that they thought that ‘brogrammer” was a spear counterpart of ‘bitch’, a slur used to put down someone who fails to be appropriately meek. I’ve been a little bit disturbed by feminists who directly attack (actual) hypermasculine cultures of brotherhood, which seem like they could be material for non-feminist enforcement of respect of women via honor.

    • Gunlord says:

      I have heard of “fanboying” before, though, and typing the gerund into google or yahoo does have a bunch of hits.

    • Multiheaded says:

      I’ve been a little bit disturbed by feminists who directly attack (actual) hypermasculine cultures of brotherhood, which seem like they could be material for non-feminist enforcement of respect of women via honor.

      Frankly, me too. I think, though, that if we had a “men’s movement” that wasn’t a tasteless joke, that would’ve been enough to check culturally imperialist stances from feminists. Look at all the heat over feminism and race last year; black feminists called out mainstream feminism over its white-centeredness, patronization, etc in a rather visible way. I don’t even think it’s a case of corruption by power as much as the understandable dynamic of a movement that had to fight for every breath it took and shoot first.

      Personally, there was one time I felt deeply insulted and disrespected by ostensibly-benevolent cultural imperialism. When the news, including queer publications, reported in a positive or neutral light Obama’s intention to “meet” with Putin for a “discussion” of gay rights in Russia. Euuuurgh. “You steal men’s metadata and make them your slaves! Mankind ill needs a savior such as you!” A movement that I have a general stake in, one I support by default, failed to notice a grossly insensitive, infantilizing, colonially-minded act done in its name. So yes, it might’ve been just one thing that touched me, but I realize how unpleasant cultural imperialism can get.

      • Gunlord says:

        “You steal men’s metadata and make them your slaves! Mankind ill needs a savior such as you!”

        Aaaaahahahaha, nother Castlevania fan? Nice.

    • Oligopsony says:

      I’ve been a little bit disturbed by feminists who directly attack (actual) hypermasculine cultures of brotherhood, which seem like they could be material for non-feminist enforcement of respect of women via honor.

      I feel your surprise here depends a lot on the equivocation of “respect for women.” There are some tactical opportunities for collaboration, for instance the much-cited attempts in the 80s to censor porn. And they can extend minimal respect towards one another as people who are, contra dude culture, motivated by principles, however different. But I don’t think either camp is mistaken in perceiving the other as an enemy.

      • Multiheaded says:

        And they can extend minimal respect towards one another as people who are, contra dude culture, motivated by principles, however different. But I don’t think either camp is mistaken in perceiving the other as an enemy.

        I bet you’re right… but Von Kalifornen is so damn nice that, with him coming across as an idealist (i.e. as not much of a materialist), I can’t help but launch into the sweetest liberal idealism I have in me. My rational mind says “Be a gender traitor or die, cis scum”, but I’m just not cut out for enforcing the party line.

        • Oligopsony says:

          Oh, I’m much inclined to like Lord California as a person, too, just as surely as I can’t stand some of my own comrades. Like Schmitt says, political oppositions are distinct from other oppositions.

    • Crimson Wool says:

      I’ve been a little bit disturbed by feminists who directly attack (actual) hypermasculine cultures of brotherhood, which seem like they could be material for non-feminist enforcement of respect of women via honor.

      In societies, the correlation between benevolent and hostile sexism is about 0.89 and societal sexism tend to correlate very closely with gender inequality (Glick, et al. 2000).

      Relying on benevolent sexism to raise women’s relative social position is a toxic methodology that doesn’t work.

      • von Kalifornen says:

        Not benevolent sexism? I Was conceptualizing non feminist respect for women as different from benevolent sexism which tends to go hostile at first deviation from norms.

        • Crimson Wool says:

          Then what is the dividing point between non-feminist respect for women, and benevolent sexism?

        • Oligopsony says:

          Could you expand on what you mean by it, then? It’s nonobvious!

        • Anonymous says:

          “Silly non feminist! Clearly, you’re incapable of understanding how to respect women…”

        • Crimson Wool says:

          “Silly non feminist! Clearly, you’re incapable of understanding how to respect women…”

          I’m actually not a feminist, so perhaps I should have used the phrase non-egalitarian or similar, but his proposal seems chivalry-esque which I really doubt would actually work.

        • Anonymous says:

          “Silly non-whatever-I-call-myself, there’s clearly no way that you can understand how to have respect for women in a way that doesn’t also express the badness of chivalry!”

          (…and pretty soon, we’ll pack all the things that are good into our label, such that the label doesn’t mean anything at all besides, “Yea… you respect women.”)

        • Multiheaded says:

          Crimson Wool

          Wait… wait… aren’t you a reactionary? Or perhaps you just said something sex-critical and I tagged you as one for some reason.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Could you expand on what you mean by it, then? It’s nonobvious!

          Maybe he’s implying that benevolent sexism is to a masculine/”non-feminist” culture of respect for women as the suffocating “patronage” of an empire towards a smaller nation is to an alliance of two distant nations that stand more to gain by cooperation even though one could beat another through competition. In which case, of course, the payoff matrix determines whether equality can be defended, and I take seriously the (rad-fem?) suspicion that defection is too costly for women to reliably deter oppression.

          (Which might make for yet another example of a factual agreement between radicals and reactionaries: reactionaries cite this to claim that women should surrender without fighting, radicals claim that the struggle’s unequal nature justifies hard measures beyond what liberalism allows.)

        • Crimson Wool says:

          Wait… wait… aren’t you a reactionary? Or perhaps you just said something sex-critical and I tagged you as one for some reason.

          I’m a complex human being who doesn’t fit into your little “boxes,” maaaaan.

          You probably tagged me as a reactionary because I’m much, much more sympathetic to traditionalist sex mores (no sex before marriage, no divorce without extreme cause, etc) than most progressives. “Sympathetic” here meaning that I hold most of them, adjusted to fit into a naturalistic worldview.

          “Silly non-whatever-I-call-myself, there’s clearly no way that you can understand how to have respect for women in a way that doesn’t also express the badness of chivalry!”

          There are ways to respect women that come from a general respect for all human beings. There are also ways to respect women that come from a particular respect for members of the female sex. Chivalry/benevolent sexism/etc fit into the latter (and are shown to correlate to hostile sexism), and his proposal seems to as well. I am trying to ask how his proposal meaningfully differentiates from those. Is that clearer?

        • Anonymous says:

          Chivalry/benevolent sexism/etc fit into the latter (and are shown to correlate to hostile sexism), and his proposal seems to as well.

          Scott’s probably not terribly pleased with you. Let’s remove it from the hot-button issue. Does particular respect for, say, members of the Caninae sub-family necessarily correlate with hostile speciesism against dogs? If not, then it’s probably not the “in particular” part of the respect that you are concerned about.

        • Crimson Wool says:

          @Anonymous: What do you think benevolent sexism is, beyond particular respect for the female sex?

          Here are the questions used in the ASI inventory to measure benevolent sexism:

          (1) No matter how accomplished he is, a man is not truly complete as a person unless he has the love of a woman.
          (3) In a disaster, women ought not necessarily to be rescued before men. [inverse correlation]
          (6) People are often truly happy in life without being romantically involved with a member of the other sex. [inverse correlation]
          (8) Many women have a quality of purity that few men possess.
          (9) Women should be cherished and protected by men.
          (12) Every man ought to have a woman whom he adores.
          (13) Men are complete without women. [inverse correlation]
          (17) A good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man.
          (19) Women, compared to men, tend to have a superior moral sensibility.
          (20) Men should be willing to sacrifice their own well being in order to provide financially for the women in their lives.
          (22) Women, as compared to men, tend to have a more refined sense of culture and good taste.

          Major hits: “women are better than men in certain ephemeral ways that are highly resistant to measurement” (8, 19, 22), “men need relationships with women to be complete” (1, 6, 12, 13), and “women deserve special treatment simply for being women” (3, 9, 17, 20). What is he proposing that is distinct from these categories?

        • Anonymous says:

          I’m not sure you read my comment. You certainly didn’t respond to it.

          I highly await the publication of your similar study showing a correlation between particular respect for dogs and hostile speciesism. I expect your major hits to include “dogs are better than humans in certain ephemeral ways that are highly resistant to measurement,” and “dogs deserve special (or, at least, unique) treatment simply for being dogs.”

          The “men need relationships with women to be complete” category seems outside your definition of benevolent sexism as particular respect for the female sex. In particular, (6) is the most obvious offender. I can pretty easily need an education to be “complete” but not have any particular respect for it.

        • Crimson Wool says:

          I highly await the publication of your similar study showing a correlation between particular respect for dogs and hostile speciesism. I expect your major hits to include “dogs are better than humans in certain ephemeral ways that are highly resistant to measurement,” and “dogs deserve special (or, at least, unique) treatment simply for being dogs.”

          There’s already a proved correlation between hostile and benevolent sexism, see the study linked earlier. It’s entirely possible that such a thing is unique to human gender/sexes, and does not apply to other categories. I don’t need an explanatory factor, I only need for it to be true.

          The “men need relationships with women to be complete” category seems outside your definition of benevolent sexism as particular respect for the female sex. In particular, (6) is the most obvious offender. I can pretty easily need an education to be “complete” but not have any particular respect for it.

          The three categories all correlate with hostile sexism.

          From the study:

          The correlations with HS averaged across countries were, for men and women respectively, .21 and .37 for Protective Paternalism, .14 and .28 for Complementary Gender Differentiation, and .20 and .26 for Heterosexual Intimacy

          They don’t seem to have the “average of the sample” correlations for the subcomponents, lamentably, but it’s likely that the ratio is roughly the same: about one-third of the variation is accounted for by the Heterosexual Intimacy measure (which I actually agree with you shouldn’t really be counted as benevolent sexism, though its correlation with HS is fascinating).

        • Anonymous says:

          The correlations are certainly fascinating.

          1. It’s easy to say correlation /= causation. But here, we have a feature that really highlights the fact that we’re shooting in the dark with our explanations – the linked article posited exactly the opposite causation that you’re positing! Sometimes, the direction of causation (if it’s likely to exist) is pretty obvious, so let’s at least talk through it.

          You’re claiming that BS would lead to HS. They claim that BS follows from HS. I find their causation claim far more plausible on its face and would need some evidence or explanatory factor to think otherwise. (I’ll set aside that their theory of HS following necessarily from the existence of a dominant group seems incredibly unjustified (this is a general claim and definitely falls when we consider domesticated animals).)

          I really do like dispassionate analysis, and I try to find less emotionaly charged examples when possible. One major example (close to my actual area of research) is honeybees. They’re quite social creatures, and they have major sex differences. The thing is that I can tell a story for how each sex is “the bad one”. The males have “the easy life”. They hang out, do no work, eat, have sex, and then die. The females do all the work for them and will literally fight each other to the death for the status of being worthy to mate with. What fantastic oppressors! In the other story, the females are the dominant group. The deadbeat males have to be dragged along because they’re merely necessary. Once the females are finished with them for the purposes of fertilization, out the nest you go! What fantastic oppressors! In each story, it’s plenty easy to anthropomorphize HS and BS attitudes onto them.

          The conclusion of this example is not that equality/egalitarianism isn’t valuable (it is). It’s that we need to be very careful when we’re telling stories about causation in attitudes.

          2. I’m glad we agree that, insofar as we accept the definition of BS to be “particular respect for women”, then Heterosexual Intimacy shouldn’t count. However, it’s understandable why HI should be part of BS in the way that the paper is using it (i.e., that BS is not the same as “particular respect for women”). It fits into their scheme of attributing societal value to women and such societal value is strongly implicated by their idea that women also derive self-value from BS, helping them to cope with HS (they had a little ‘carrot-and-stick’ sounding flavor from time to time… which I have other problems with, but I digress).

          I think my point is value /= respect. They are sometimes similar, but the differences can be significiant.

          3. In sum, I think I’ve put plenty of space between “particular respect for women” and benevolent sexism. Furthermore, I’ve called into question (yet again) the idea that we can derive an causal implication from “particular respect for women” (or benevolent sexism) to hostile sexism. Examples like dogs definitely cast doubt on this being a general causal phenomenon via either your route of BS->HS or the paper’s route of (existence of dominant group)->HS->BS.

    • Tarn Somervell says:

      I usually say fangirling because fanboy feels like it means something radically different.

    • ” hypermasculine cultures of brotherhood, which seem like they could be material for non-feminist enforcement of respect of women via honor.”

      I give up. I can’t stand it any more.

      Would somebody give an example of actual behavior so I can have some idea of what you mean?

      • Julia says:

        I was also baffled by this.

      • Anonymous says:

        Begin by imagining a masculine culture of brotherhood. Imagine that this culture enforced some idea via honor. The thing they enforce can widely vary. I’m sure you can imagine a code of honor protecting a sense of nationalism or other principles/traditions. Heck, this code of honor could be recruited to enforce your favored feminist or egalitarian principles. In a sense, I think this is what a campaign like “Men Can Stop Rape” is going for. That particular campaign isn’t rooted in a masculine culture, but it is trying to enforce a particular aspect of particular respect for women.

        Now, I see no reason why a culture of brotherhood which embraces masculinity couldn’t enforce a correct respect for women via honor, as von Kalifornen proposed. The only real argument presented against it is, “Well that sounds vaguely similar to some ideas that were part of chivalry, which everyone now acknowledges as Uniquely Bad because of some other things they embraced.”

        For a particular example, consider something like the “Men Can Stop Rape” campaign again. Men can embrace their masculinity as a brotherhood, understanding the benefits and pitfalls that arise from that masculinity, and enforce a respect for women that avoids this major unique pitfall, i.e., rape. In a similar vein, I’ve thought that the problem of so-called “women’s work” is not there are tendencies for different genders to pursue different types of work. The problem is a lack of proper respect for the different contributions (and really, you don’t need to just consider gender differences here; imagine the dichotomy between the respect for research and teaching work within academia, for example). One can get to these ends via other routes, as well; I don’t think this was touted as the unique way, but merely a possible way.

  2. Vanzetti says:

    You didn’t even mention dogecoin…

    • Scott Alexander says:

      And God willing, neither will anyone else, ever again.

      (I don’t actually know much about dogecoin. Does it have any advantages as a cryptocurrency other than being named after doge?)

      • Jordan D. says:

        Well, there’s a lot of dogecoin. A lot.

        I mean, one might immediately assume that a unit of value worth (at current, I believe) $0.00031 has very few uses, but apparently some people find it extremely entertaining! There may be some sort of psychological benefit to being broke and also being able to spend a thousand dogecoin on a whim.

        …or maybe not. I suppose time will tell.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        No.

      • lmm says:

        Its community seem to put a much higher value on being nice than the bitcoin one or other altcoins. And it’s inflationary.

  3. BeoShaffer says:

    Can you explain what you mean by “plus it has not been raised with deep culture.” I’m not familiar with the term, and the first google hit for it isn’t describing something that millennials are self-evidently lacking.

  4. suntzuanime says:

    You can have my metahumor when you pry the ability to pry things from my cold dead hands from my cold dead hands.

  5. nemryn says:

    Well, it seems useful to have a word meaning ‘a person who is so enamored of a thing that they are blind to its faults’. Currently, ‘fanboy’ fills that role, and if you want to get rid of it, you should at least suggest a replacement.

    • suntzuanime says:

      I think the argument is that it’s actually damaging to discourse to have a word meaning that, and so the word must be destroyed and the ground where it used to stand must be salted.

    • Anatoly says:

      Zealot, devotee, partisan.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I think it is sometimes useful to have a concept have “person so enamored of a thing that they are blind to its faults”, but it bothers me when people use that as the basis of an argument (and a reason to dismiss that person) rather than as the conclusion of an argument (after having proven that the thing has lots of faults and that the person is claiming it doesn’t)

      Also, I don’t really understand how language works, but it seems like “fanatic” serves that niche kind of well, and that the reason it got replaced by “fanboy” was partly that we have memetic antibodies to “fanatic” – ie we realize that people sometimes get accused of fanaticism unfairly and so we think about those accusations – and because “fanboy” sounds meaner and more demeaning.

  6. AJD says:

    Um. I honestly don’t have a clue how you associate the referent of (Internet feminists’ use of) “bro” with “geeks”.

    I mean, Internet feminists have a variety of legitimate and non-legitimate quarrels with geeks, but “bro” isn’t the term used in reference to them. “Bro” refers to a subculture that geeks exist in opposition to—the outwardly-secure-in-masculinity jocks-and-bullies subculture.

    Searching for “bro” on feministing.com, for instance, turns up references to these:

    This Onion article satirizing bullying-as-male-bonding culture
    Seth MacFarlane as Academy Awards emcee
    a man who “asked” women he didn’t know to dance by putting his hands on them instead of speaking to them
    an explicit definition of “bro” as “that alpha male idiot… who is generally inarticulate, belligerent, misogynistic, conceited, and thinks he’s way funnier than he actually is…,” associated with “bullying, egoism, domination, aggression, Neanderthal intellect, and sexual prowling” and “extreme masculinity”

    None of this has anything do go with geeks, general stereotypes of geeks, or the stereotypes Internet feminists in particular hold about geeks.

    • suntzuanime says:

      I’ve heard “dudebro” used generally to mean “non-feminist male” and I’ve definitely heard “brogrammer” used to mean “non-feminist male programmer”. I think “bro” by itself is probably more specific.

      • Gunlord says:

        Yeah, same here. I’ve never heard the terms “dudebro” or “brogrammer” used as anything but insults, either.

      • a person says:

        “Bro” is interesting to me because it can be both a compliment and an insult depending on context. Eg. “Yeah, he’s chill, he’s a total bro, you’ll get along with him” vs. “This school is full of bros, always using douchey slang and drinking cheap beer and popping their collars.”

      • naath says:

        I don’t think I’ve ever heard the terms used that generically; I suppose that depends on your definition of “non-feminist”. I think I’d say that these words are for *anti* feminists, not just “non” feminists.

        For instance “brogrammers” are the type of male programmers who put photographs of naked women into their talks at “professional” conferences on computer programming because it is “funny”; or who greet any woman joining a programming-based group with innuendo and jokes about how she should get “back in the kitchen”. I feel no desire to be “nice” to people who appear to think my place in the world is in the kitchen making sandwiches and babies for them!

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s the whole point. The goal is to associate the geek with a culture he views negatively in order to make him feel bad. No one who says “feminazi” thinks feminists are actual Nazis either.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      When I search “dudebro” on Google, the two top relevant results (I’m using relevant to mean something other than a site stating the word exists) are a guy who made an anti-feminist meme about a science fiction author and an article about dudebros in the tech inudstrywhich describes the word as meaning people “showcasing and defending culturally insensitive apps at conferences, turning a blind eye to the clear and persistent gender disparity in the industry and, at their dudebro-iest heights, insisting that the American tech world is a meritocracy when it clearly isn’t”.

      So my only regret is that I wasn’t sarcastic enough. I should have included a little vignette where Chad and his friend drink brewskis and make memes about sci-fi authors defend the claim that the tech world is a meritocracy.

      (also, I continue to point out that I was called a “dude” for writing a sixty page essay on moral philosophy that someone didn’t like)

      • Sniffnoy says:

        To be fair, that last one seems like a pretty neutral use of “dude” (even while he’s otherwise insulting you).

      • a person says:

        By “dude” he means “man”. I’ve never seen it used as an insult in that context.

        • Anonymous says:

          To both Sniffnoy and a person:

          Do you seriously think that it’s benign here? Why exactly would the commenter use the phrase, “Nerdy white dude from Less Wrong,” rather than, say, “Person from Less Wrong”? I’m actually surprised that the commenter bothered to specify “from Less Wrong.” Often times, the “nerdy white dude talks down to everyone to explain what they should think,” stands alone to completely marginalize a person’s perspective.

        • Aaron Brown says:

          @anonymous — the point is that “nerdy white dude” is not noticeably worse than “nerdy white guy” or “nerdy white man“.

        • Anonymous says:

          Is it noticeably worse than “nerdy white person”? Each one of the four descriptors (including “from Less Wrong”) were used solely to denote, “He’s one of them, and so his thoughts don’t matter. The most defensible descriptor is “from Less Wrong,” because that group probably has the most shared set of identifiable axioms (and association is purely voluntary). The remaining three are pure marginalization, plain and simple.

        • AJD says:

          Anonymous, you’re moving the goalposts. The point here is that “dude” isn’t (widely considered to be) a slur or insult per se, but rather as being denotationally and connotationally nearly equivalent to “guy”. It may conceivably be on its way to becoming a slur, and Scott’s perception is in the forefront of this change. Certainly it’s a highly informal term, and the use of informal terms in written contexts can be a way of indicating disrespect (or many other social or emotional ladings), which can give it a base to start from if it were to become a slur, but that’s just not something that’s happened (yet) for the language-using community at large.

        • Anonymous says:

          “dude” isn’t (widely considered to be) a slur or insult per se, but rather as being denotationally and connotationally nearly equivalent to “guy”

          Sure, but you should reread the original post.

          I had no problems with “dude” when its use was limited to cowboys, surfers, and giant anthropomorphic turtles. And I had no problem with “bro” when it was used by members of fraternities to refer to their brothers in those fraternities.

          Clearly, Scott is not claiming that “dude” (or even “guy”) is widely considered to be a slur per se (I imagine he still has no problem with the above uses). Furthermore, the comment thread was analysing a particular use of the word. We don’t have to figure out whether it’s widely considered to be a slur per se in order to determine if a person or group of people are using it in a marginalizing fashion. Would you have to figure out whether “Asian”, “chick”, “southerner”, “those people”, “that guy” or whatever is widely considered to be a slur (per se!) in order to determine whether particular uses are marginalizing?

          Context almost always determines the goodness or badness of individual words. There are precious few that we have decided are universally (or even widely) offensive. I imagine the theory is that if we can point out and eliminate the negative uses before they become widely adopted, we can keep “dude” in the category of Super Happy Fun Words instead of the category of Universally Offensive Words.

        • Sniffnoy says:

          So, I was going to clarify that I was claiming that yes, all the marginalization here is contained in the “nerdy” and “white” and independent of “dude”, and that had “dude” been replaced by “guy”, the result would have been no less bad in most people’s perceptions. That is to say, I was claiming (implicitly) that “guy” is a neutral term, and that “dude” is in this context similarly neutral, carrying no additional marginalization. (No marginal marginalization, you could say.) But it seems Anonymous has a different problem with it; they may agree that “dude” is no worse than “guy” here, it’s just that they still think “guy” is still marginalizing, because they’re using a different baseline, e.g. “person”.

          That said, I still think they’re missing the point.

          In particular, I think the following quote continues to miss the point:

          Would you have to figure out whether “Asian”, “chick”, “southerner”, “those people”, “that guy” or whatever is widely considered to be a slur (per se!) in order to determine whether particular uses are marginalizing?

          I would actually probably say “frequently, yes” to that question, but even if I spot you that point, the larger one still stands — you, as far as I can tell, are talking about “dude” as a generic marginalizing word meaning “guy”; whereas Scott is talking about it as a word meant to imply that the referent is like a “dudebro” or a frat boy. I.e., not just that internet feminists unfairly marginalize men who disagree with them, but that they do it by specifically grouping them in with this particular unliked group, whether the comparion makes sense or not.

          My claim is that — even if I spot you that “dude” here is marginalizing — it is still equivalent with “guy” here, and not equivalent with “dudebro”. Seeing as the latter sort of thing is what Scott was objecting to, I think he is mistaken to object to the use of “dude” here (even while the comment itself is on the whole objectionable). That is what I am claiming, and so far as I am concerned, discussion of whether “dude” is marginalizing independent of that is simply not relevant to my claim.

        • Anonymous says:

          Would you have to figure out whether “Asian”, “chick”, “southerner”, “those people”, “that guy” or whatever is widely considered to be a slur (per se!) in order to determine whether particular uses are marginalizing?

          I would actually probably say “frequently, yes” to that question

          Really?! …I just deleted a long section of examples that started with, “Trigger warning: just turn back now, it’s gonna get ugly.” Do you seriously have no idea how easy it is to come up with horrible counterexamples? Let me help you out in a step-by-step guide:

          1) Think of the most horribly offensive, marginalizing statement you can come up with.

          2) Replace the slurs with words that refer to the same group of people, but are not “widely considered to be a slur (per se!!).”

          3) There is no step three. You’re done. You’ve marginalized that group of people without using a Universally Offensive Word.

          Scott is talking about it as a word meant to imply that the referent is like a “dudebro” or a frat boy. I.e., not just that internet feminists unfairly marginalize men who disagree with them, but that they do it by specifically grouping them in with this particular unliked group, whether the comparison makes sense or not… even if I spot you that “dude” here is marginalizing — it is still equivalent with “guy” here, and not equivalent with “dudebro”.

          Again, that’s not what he said. He said,

          But somehow when I wasn’t looking these words [dude, bro, and dudebro] turned into things Internet feminists call anyone they dislike. The usual referent seems to be geeks and people who disagree with them about gender issues.

          I think it’s reasonable to claim that “dudebro” is more likely to specifically refer to the frat boy anti-feminist stereotype. Perhaps “creep” is more likely to specifically refer to the geek anti-feminist stereotype than either dude or bro, even. Scanning through the various links that have been provided in the comments, I think a lot of them are pretty scattershot. They sometimes use the different words interchangeably. Sometimes, they’ll transition between different types of anti-feminist stereotypes and use different words for different ones.

          I think “dudebro” probably has the most relative traction (Internet feminists/benign public references), but that’s also beside the point (except in that Scott also seems to have recognized this and heaped more scorn on dudebro). The point is that when they’re used merely marginalize someone or nonsensically compare them to a disfavored stereotype just because you dislike/disagree with them, it’s problematic. It has nothing to do with, for example, the reddit comment’s use of dude (or uses of dude more widely) being equivalent to dudebro (it’s not in the reddit comment; it’s probably more like guy, even though it’s still marginalizing). It’s not whether other examples (say, Mr. Scalzi) used dude, bro, and dudebro somewhat interchangeably. It’s whether or not each word, independently, is used in a marginalizing fashion.

          In sum, I think we agree on the particulars, but we seem to disagree on which one “matters”. I think it’s a strained reading of Scott’s post to say that he’s claiming that bro or dude most often refers to dudebro. (Again, I think he would agree that many, if not most, common uses of dude and bro are of the benign type… it’s those other uses that he’s addressing.)

        • a person says:

          You’re basically proving my own point by arguing that “Asian” can be a slur in the right context. If that person had written “man”, by that logic, you might have considered it a slur too. Therefore “dude” = “man”.

        • Anonymous says:

          @a person:

          Sure, he can mean “man”. I think you’re missing the rest of my comments which explain how it’s still marginalizing.

          There are other contexts in which a person could use “dudebro” as a completely benign reference to “man”. I don’t get what your point is.

          Exercise: You agree that “Asian” can be used as a slur in context. Come up with a sentence that does so. Now replace “Asian” with a more offensive slur. Would your response to this new sentence be, “By [this slur], he means ‘Asian'”?

        • a person says:

          I don’t know if I agree that “Asian” can be a slur in the right context, because that would mean that pretty much anything anyone can have a negative opinion about would count as a “slur” if said with the proper inflection, which seems to be extending the definition of the word irresponsibly. (“That guy? Doesn’t he like, go to college?”) I agree that “dude” is a slur to the same extent that “man” is a slur.

          Also, while the comment was obviously meant to insult white people, I’m not even sure it was an insult to men – it’s not really natural to refer to someone just as the gender-ambiguous “person” when you know their gender. The use of “dude” could have been arbitrary or it could be targeted, I don’t know because intent is hard to read over the internet.

        • Anonymous says:

          Why, precisely, do you think it’s obvious that the comment was meant to be an insult to white people? Do you think it was meant to be an insult toward nerdy people or people on Less Wrong? Why, precisely?

        • a person says:

          Because why else would the person mention “white”. Those things too, yeah.

          (Using a fairly liberal definition of “insult”.)

        • Anonymous says:

          …why else would the person mention “dude”? The comment checks off all the other standard disliked groups; it’s not unreasonable to believe that all pieces are fairly similar (especially since such statements are quite common in circles where all the other boxes get checked off).

          I’ll really just leave it at this: I think it’s a reasonable interpretation; in fact, it’s probably more likely than not. You may disagree. That’s alright. Just make sure you’re not telling a woman how she should feel. I’ll leave you with the last word.

        • a person says:

          I already said why:

          “it’s not really natural to refer to someone just as the gender-ambiguous “person” when you know their gender. “

      • Sniffnoy says:

        Do you seriously have no idea how easy it is to come up with horrible counterexamples? Let me help you out in a step-by-step guide:

        Yes, I am aware of those counterexamples. Hence why I said “frequently yes” rather than “yes”.

        In sum, I think we agree on the particulars, but we seem to disagree on which one “matters”.

        I would largely agree with this. I don’t really feel like it’s worth my time to get into it any further.

        • Sniffnoy says:

          Ugh, sorry, replied to wrong comment. This was supposed to be a follow-up to, well, the quoted comment.

  7. a person says:

    Oh, oh, I finally disagree with one of Scott’s blog posts! Is it time for me to write my scathing rebuttal now? What’s that you say? It’s a post written about unimportant issues mainly for comedic value, and not really worth taking a stance on? Well, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that…

    1. Fanboy has a legitimate usage, I think, as “person who is overly obsessed with something, won’t stop talking about it / advocating it, and will defend it overzealously whenever it’s even innocently criticized”. On online hip-hop forums we call these people “stans” after the Eminem song. I agree that the idea of a Bitcoin fanboy is kind of dumb because that sort of blurs the line between “someone who enjoys something” and “someone who advocates a specific policy” and it seems improper to call someone who adheres to a belief a “fan” of that belief.

    3. This is pretty annoying but the thing it’s responding to (“Brrrr! So much for global warming, am I right? Right?”) is much more annoying in my opinion, so I’ll forgive it.

    6. I don’t really think this is the implication of “basement dweller” – that they’re poor. I think the image conjured is of someone who was born into a middle class family and through personal failures – a mix of laziness and lack of social skills, has never been able to hold long-term employment. The term is used as an insult and to discredit someone’s argument by implying that they have very little real-world experience and therefore this distorts their worldview by making them, among other things, overly angry and bitter, and overly prone to armchair theorizing. This seems like a pretty valid pejorative to me, as far as pejoratives go. 4chan seems to genuinely have a lot of these people (they call them “NEETs”) and a very fucked up worldview, and I think it’s by no means a stretch to say that the former might cause the latter.

    9. I’m kind of surprised at you for this one – the whole “no one has the right to make inferences about anyone’s core personality traits based on observing their behavior” rhetoric. I’m not sure if a girl having all male friends is actually a warning sign, but it doesn’t sound that far-fetched of an idea to me. I can’t think of a way it would originate from bigotry alone. And I feel like I’ve definitely seen it before, but now that I think about it I actually can’t think of anyone I know who fits the description, so… who knows. But if it’s a true correlation, then you can’t blame people for realizing that and talking about it, although you can certainly blame them for the whole “bitches and sluts” rhetoric. (Reddit really can be awful when it comes to women.)

    For some reason, at various times in my life I’ve pretty much always had almost all male friends or almost all female friends, but never both. At times when I had all female friends, I felt like it was due to a failure on my part to assimilate into the local “guy’s culture” (this link sort of paints a picture), which I perceived as a negative thing – not negative in the sense that I’m a bad person for it, but negative in the sense that it’s a lack of social skills that needs to be fixed. This is sort of strange because among my closest group of all-male friends it’s a total guy culture – practically every fourth sentence out of someone’s mouth is “you’re a fag”. And I love it.

    I completely agree with you about meta-humor though, holy shit.

    • Tommy says:

      I’m with the above on ‘Fanboy.’ This is possibly because I frequent sports forums and Scott doesn’t. I was aware of ‘Fanboy’ LONG before ‘fangirl,’ so it seems like your perceiving one as having a long illustrious history and the other not seems to be a result of your map, not the territory.

      In sports contexts, the distinction is useful, because fans will root for their team, but give credit to the opposition, recognise their team might have some flaws, and that fans of other teams might occasionally be non-horrible human beings. As a synonym for ‘hyperpartisan’ I find it useful. Accusing people of being hyperpartisan can, of course, be an Argument from my Opponent Believes Something. But so can ‘people who like X are a cult’ but it doesn’t mean the word ‘cult’ is not useful. There exist people who are cultists, and there exist people who are irrationally hyper-partisan about things.

      • Tommy says:

        EBWOP: Fans will recognise…. and fanboys won’t. That’s the distinction, which was an unfortunate bit to omit from the above comment.

    • Andy says:

      I can’t think of a way it would originate from bigotry alone. And I feel like I’ve definitely seen it before, but now that I think about it I actually can’t think of anyone I know who fits the description, so… who knows. But if it’s a true correlation, then you can’t blame people for realizing that and talking about it, although you can certainly blame them for the whole “bitches and sluts” rhetoric. (Reddit really can be awful when it comes to women.)

      I have seen this, from both men and women. One particular friend of mine gets this said about her a lot. And I can think of a place it originates from that’s right next door to bigotry: the notion that people are “supposed to be” one thing or another. In this case, the notion that women are “supposed to be” more social and get along with each other.

    • Alexander Stanislaw says:

      Yes “fanboy” might have a legitimate referent. That’s not the issue, the issue is that using the word is damaging to discourse and is pure signaling of tribal affiliation: “haha we’re so much more better than those silly fanboys”. Moreover it can be used to dismiss any approval of anything: “you’re just being a fanboy”.

      • a person says:

        I don’t really know what’s meant by “discourse” in this context. I agree and sort of implied in my comment that the term would be damaging to rational, intellectual debate, but I feel like it’s not really popular in that context anyway. I feel like it’s usually seen in the context of making fun of people in casual discussion of entertainment, which is pretty harmless in my opinion.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          I disagree that making fun of people is harmless.

        • a person says:

          That was a bad word choice, but people have been making fun of each other since the dawn of time and they’re not going to stop anytime soon.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’ve responded to most of the others elsewhere, so let me concentrate on the basement one.

      I come from an upper middle class family. My parents paid for my tuition in an out-of-state college. When I graduated, I didn’t have any debts and I was able to support myself on odd jobs while living in interesting places until I could find myself a career.

      If I had come from a lower middle class family, I probably would have stayed in-state for college or gone to community college. I probably would have stayed at my parents’ house throughout to help save money, and when I graduated I probably would have been saddled with debt and continued to stay at my parents’ house to save money while working odd jobs, until I could break out into a well-paying career.

      It seems very likely that this is a common pattern and so I do attribute my not living in my parents’ basement (well, house – Californians don’t do basements) to my family having some money. If I was living in my parents’ basement, and people did the “You’re a nerd! I bet you live in your parents’ basement!” thing to me, I would have crawled up into a corner and died, because being reminded that you’re poor and you can’t get a job really hurts.

      I also think that even among people from an upper-middle class background, it’s not fair to say that “not being motivated” or “spending all your time on 4chan” is the only factor or even a main factor that causes some people to end up without a high-paying job (and so sometimes back in their parents’ basement). This seems to be the old “How well you’re doing in life is dependent solely on your personal hard work” claim liberals usually (and rightly) reject.

      • a person says:

        “I’ve responded to most of the others elsewhere, so let me concentrate on the basement one.”

        I don’t think you responded to what I said about #9, and I was kind of curious to see your response, but then again, you’re a busy man and it’s an incredibly trivial issue so please don’t feel obligated.

        What you say makes sense regarding the basement thing and I guess I agree with you that the term shouldn’t be used. But I do think there should be a way to say that someone may be biased by being, quite frankly, a loser, because it really is a common occurrence on the internet.

        Honesty, I think a stronger argument than the socioeconomic one is that many of the middle class basement dwellers are forced into that position at least in part by some form of diagnosable mental illness – autism, depression, social anxiety. In this light, it seems cruel to make fun of them.

    • Earnest_Peer says:

      I think the 9. thing comes from the same place as “pink sucks”.
      Pink started out as the color for girls (not truly, but I’ll start there). Then people began paying attention to the fact that every girl toy is pink now. Then they started writing slogans – and as always, this is where the relevant nuance vanished: “It’s bad that pink is the only color available for women” became “pink sucks”.
      Likewise, some women had only male friends. People (we’re talking about SJWs, right?) then got to thinking that there might be problems with that attitude (and I think there can be, even if it is always your free choice who to befriend). Then that got sloganized.

      In conclusion: Don’t do feminism by slogans. You’ll ruin everything.

  8. I would put “fee fees” right down there with “butthurt”. I find “fee fees” more infuriating, but I’m not sure I can explain why. Perhaps the infantilization seems like an even stronger effort to take away the possibility of any answer being heard.

    On the generational thing…. the rage against boomers is enough to leave me feeling somewhat nervous.

    More generally, I try to remember that a wide range of people are very defensive because a wide range of people are being attacked.

    • Katie Hartman says:

      That really gets me, too. Maybe because it’s basically the most obvious bully-talk ever. Like, you really cannot channel a schoolyard bully any more perfectly than by using baby talk to mock someone for obviously being hurt by you.

    • lmm says:

      I’ve never heard “fee fees”. I have no idea what that means. So maybe it’s only an issue in a small corner of the internet?

      • And I’ve only barely seen the edge of the doge thing. I have no idea how far “fee fees” (presumably baby talk for feelings) have spread.

        The usage I’ve seen is the 5th entry on Urban Dictionary, so it i probably is very local.

      • Matthew says:

        It’s used regularly on Duncan Black’s Eschaton, which is a fairly important site in the US liberal blogosphere.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      If “fee fees” is a real term people use, it was excluded from this list only because I had the good fortune never to have heard it before.

  9. Gunlord says:

    I can understand why you dislike the doge meme, it’s everywhere these days. I just can’t bring myself to hate it, though, because that “doge” is so damn cute. Look at him, he’s all chubby and fluffy.

    P.S: I get the feeling you might like this comic:

    http://www.hejibits.com/comics/doge-demise/

    • Anon says:

      I’m the same way. I normally dislike low effort memes. I like that I normally dislike low effort memes because status and weird pride biases. But none of that matters when I see doge text along with bad grammar. I find it both hilarious and embarrassing. Oh well, whatever. Signalling is definitely secondary to enjoying myself.

      Also, the part about the metahumor was very well timed. If Scott hadn’t put that there I probably would have gone straight to the comments with “wow, much hate, etc.” Which wouldn’t have been funny to anyone else, but would have been very enjoyable for me.

  10. Kerry says:

    I don’t understand the difference you’re making between ‘fangirl’ and ‘fanboy’, I’m afraid! In my experience on the internet, both are used to mean roughly the same thing: someone more enthusiastic about a subject (or object) than the speaker thinks is reasonable. “Fanboy” has an edge of implied computer skills and “fangirl” has an edge of sexual mocking (eg, married to Snape on the astral plane), but to me, both mean “person who’s obsessed with something and will defend it no matter what, also a bit socially incompetent” (whether used as a perjorative or someone’s proud self-description).

    • Roxolan says:

      Me, I feel a difference in meaning between the two words.

      “She’s an Apple fangirl” means she really likes Apple products, which can go from cute to slightly disturbing, but this is no value judgment of X.

      “He’s an Apple fanboy” means that I think Apple sucks and that you should not listen to him when he recommends Apple products because he’s hopelessly brainwashed and his beliefs has no correlation with reality.

  11. Kerry says:

    (Also, the doge meme confused me for many weeks because, not having seen an image version, I genuinely thought there must be an internet meme about historical Venetian politicians. Not because of meta-humour reasons, but because this was the only context I had for the word “doge”.)

    • Raoul says:

      The Italian doges were my first thought too when I first heard the phrase “doge jokes” (this is only the second time; the first was in the Facebook status of someone that I believe to be Facebook friends with Scott). On the basis that doge jokes were unlikely to be things like “How do you make a doge blind? Poke him in the eye,” I had to google it.

      I made a joke in response to the status, but it stemmed from my original confusion rather than from how impressed I was at my own cleverness (though that might explain some of my other jokes…). I would guess that there’s a reasonable chance that some of the linked images originated from the same confusion.

      • Kerry says:

        I would guess that there’s a reasonable chance that some of the linked images originated from the same confusion.

        Me too!

  12. ckp says:

    4chan wordfiltered the word “butthurt” at one time, and it spawned many creative euphemisms like “ass-pained”, “butt-blasted”, “rectally-revaged”, and my favorite: “shitter-shattered”

    Also I hate doge because it ruined my favorite joke about actual Venetian doges:

    “What kind of boat does the Doge of Venice use?

    The Barque.”

  13. Multiheaded says:

    As pointed out above, you’re mistaken about the origin of “basement-dweller”, and after your no-comments post, I was in fact surprised not to see you follow up on it; if there are any examples of anti-nerd bullying on the internet, I’d say this phrase is one!

    From what I’ve seen of the colloquial use of “dudebro”, it seems to be taken as “circlejerk plus misogyny”, in varying forms. So an actual fratboy going “Bros before hoes” or e.g. “Don’t stick your dick in crazy” fits, but so would, say, a long internet rant how those irrational feeeemales with their fee-fees are “ruining”/”censoring” the totally awesome tech culture.

  14. EatsCake says:

    so butthurt
    so doge hate
    very bile
    wow
    much unfollowed-on-RSS

  15. Gareth Rees says:

    A lot of what you’re saying here amounts to, “I don’t find these jokes funny, so people should stop making them, and should put more effort into making jokes that I find funny.” Maybe it would be great if they took notice and did that, but I think what’s more likely to be the case is that people don’t make and distribute memes to amuse you. You noted correctly that “Even after reading this paragraph, somebody is going to try this” but you didn’t go on to consider why they might do that. Surely because it amuses them and they don’t care whether or not it amuses you?

    Your complaint about the multiplicity of “doge/Doge” puns amounts to a demand that people do a literature search before making jokes, and only make them if wholly original. But surely there’s something to be said for the way you tell ’em (as the well-known meta-joke goes)? Even the twelve Doges picture at the Washington Post has pathos in the clash between Dylan Matthews’ knowledge that his contribution to the joke is late and lame, and his irresistible urge to make it anyway.

    Memes are like music and fashion in that one of their functions is to demonstrate how up-to-minute and connected you are to the wellsprings of culture. By knowing all about a meme before your friends do, you show that you are better connected and more knowledgeable than they are. And of course by the time your great-aunt Agatha reads about the meme in the Washington Post, fashionable young creative people like you have long since discarded it as boring and moved on to the next meme but three. But Agatha likely finds it just as weird and amusing now as you did when you saw it for the first time: the only difference is that you are in with the currently fashionable crowd and she is not.

    • Eric Rall says:

      I saw it as an “Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking” joke, mixing in trivial complaints (doge memes and metahumor) with more serious complaints (insults used to dismiss legitimate concerns, etc) for humorous effect.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Yes, of course you’re right. I promise not to do this too often.

  16. Nestor says:

    I’m banning list based articles. 10 reasons why X! 15 historical facts you didn’t know about! 20 badass teachers who did cool things!

    Nope, not gonna read ’em. Anyone else with me? We need to boycott this shit.

    • Anonymous says:

      I honestly was surprised “lists” wasn’t one of the listed points, but after #5 I suppose I shouldn’t have expected it.

    • An analysis of list-based articles: The List of N Things by Paul Graham.

      I agree that many list-based articles are low-value, though seductively easy to read, and so I try to avoid sites that are mostly composed of list-based articles.

  17. Vanzetti says:

    Wow.
    So omniscient.
    Much omnipotence.
    Many creation.
    Such Gode.

  18. Kerry says:

    As a note from a journalist’s perspective, the Washington Post picking up the doge meme is part of a model that allows them to keep doing investigate reporting (to the extent that anyone still does). A post on an internet-popular meme means more clicks; more clicks mean more ad revenue; more ad revenue means a higher budget for other parts of the paper.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      All right, fine, but I’m expecting some pretty amazing investigative reporting to make up for that doge thing.

  19. hamiltonianurst says:

    In regards to #5, I’ve stopped myself a few times from doing this sort of meta-humor by reminding myself that, especially when you don’t know the person you’re talking to, ironically being an asshole is indistinguishable from being an asshole.

  20. Michael Mouse says:

    Is it that you want to stop seeing this stuff on the Internet? (As suggested by the headline.) Or is it that you want it to happen less? (As suggested in much of the body.) Because the solution to “I don’t want to see this” is much easier than “I don’t want this to happen”, and is very much in your own hands.

  21. Marcion Mugwump says:

    A while ago you noted that Catholic philosophers believed in very different things than the churchgoing masses, but that they shouldn’t be faulted for it, since, after all, the bottom 90% of atheism (and here you included a link to /r/atheism) isn’t too hot either.

    My prediction is that after maybe another year of (1) being stressed out by work at the level in guessing you are (2) continuing to base your politics on geek identity (I acknowledge that it is logically and socially rude for me to say this) and 3) reading the top 10% of the (internet) right and the bottom 90% of the (internet) left, you will, indeed, raise “the black flag.” This will come as soon as a personal friendship or intellectual rationalization appears to convinces you that your prospective comrades don’t actually despise you as a filthy degenerate.

    • Andy says:

      Just curious because I read your comment 3 times and still don’t quite get it: Are you predicting that Scott’s going to turn right-wing?

    • Multiheaded says:

      a personal friendship

      My impression is that Scott has plenty of friends among that crowd already, and that the threat in that post is more of an attempt to get leftists here to follow the unspoken rules.

      prospective comrades don’t actually despise you as a filthy degenerate

      They wouldn’t. I’ve seen quite a bit of the “top 10% of Internet Right”, and they’re remarkably… elastic this way. Identity-wise, being a fellow member of an intellectual elite seems to come first for them, and they aren’t concerned with how libertarian-socialist the interactions within that elite might look.

    • Oligopsony says:

      The above comment was me; I didn’t put my name to it because I thought it was rude and over-personal, which should have been a sign to revise it or keep quiet, but I chose to do the wrong thing. I feel pretty bad about this, sorry, Scott. (I would say I stand by the content, but as is often the case, I think Multiheaded’s analysis is stronger than mine.

    • Alexander Stanislaw says:

      Could you refer me to the top 10% of the internet left?

      • Oligopsony says:

        Herr Krul’s blogroll is a pretty good place to start, IMO. You can also get instant quality improvement by looking through musty old (and occasional minty new) tomes rather than the internet, though that’s of course axiomatic.

        • yurko says:

          Thanks from an Internet random stranger for your analysis. Even though directed at Scott, it
          made me open my eyes about reading the 10% of the internet right (moldbug, nick land) and comparing it to the 90% of the internet left(whose name is a legion),,, yep, the sin of comparing apples to oranges.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Oh, did you know that Land is actually a fallen Jedi? I hear that he used to follow the teachings of Master Deleuze and the dangerous tradition of Accelerationism. Here is a holo-log from before he fully renounced the Light Side and the Republic.

        • nydwracu says:

          I really don’t think a grad student who considers “I bet he works at a gas station” a ~sick burn~ has any credibility as a Marxist.

          That’s the problem I have with all of these people, really, all the way up to bloodthirsty fuckwits like Brian Leiter. They play at radicalism while completely uncritically inheriting and repeating the entirety of their status-structure. As much as I hate the Adornoite mode of attributing disagreement to psychological deficiency, I have to think the conservatives pretty much hit the nail on the head with that lot — underlying their politics is nothing but the status-concern that their cost-sunk education won’t be appreciated by the inferior masses. They aren’t Marxists; they certainly don’t sound like Marxists — they’re Menckenites!

        • nydwracu says:

          So to restate my question elsewhere in the thread: are there any Marxists anymore who don’t sound like Menckenites? Or better yet, any who don’t fall into the trap of thinking in status at all?

        • Multiheaded says:

          Presumably, actual proletarians who turn to Marxism to make sense of their circumstances and not to score one against the competing elites would be exempt from the charge of hypocrisy. Or at least Marxism says so.

          (Of course, there aren’t many such people left since 1968. Reactionaries say that it was a typical case of leftist intellectuals turning away from the common folk; I say it mostly happened because capitalism adapted to the circumstances and very successfully incorporated the parts of the “1968 ideologies” most attractive to the ordinary person – individualism, the focus on feelings and subjectivity, etc. Yes, we might dislike their excesses, but that doesn’t change the fact that this ideology is not just a dogma imposed by media and education; it appeals to common people on its own, and it’s fucking stupid to call it “liberal degeneracy”. So now left intellectuals have no easy way to frame their ideas without being trapped; reproducing the supposedly anti-capitalist parts of ’68 is now a part of capitalism, and renouncing ’68 altogether, which you appear to like, ignores the truth of people’s needs expressed in it. Even Zizek half-admits it, I think.)

        • Multiheaded says:

          An N+1 article that seems rather typical of the problem to me. First, the author very correctly describes why leftist intellectuals despise leftist intellectuals; then lapses into the kind of self-congratulation and delusional optimism that make the reader hate leftist intellectuals even more.

          • I don’t come out of that article hating leftist intellectuals even more, but I find myself thinking that the author fails to realize that the odds of any artist or piece of art making a political difference is incredibly low.

            This doesn’t mean everyone should stop trying, but it feels like it’s got an implication I can’t put a finger on.

        • Multiheaded says:

          What, practically, do we mean by such rhetoric? That’s what we have to find out — or else we have produced one more sonorous elite hypocrisy.

          You can’t make this shit up.

        • Multiheaded says:

          the author fails to realize that the odds of any artist or piece of art making a political difference is incredibly low

          Oh, I think the author understands this rather well; in the first part, they very nearly acknowledge it – but then, somehow, they continue to identify with their class and to envision a more hopeful future for it, even after outlining why, in the present situation, this class fails so miserably to live up to its creed. They seem to realize how hypocritical they sound, but keep it up anyway.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          David Brin? He seems much more libertarian than leftist, and his responses to the Reactionaries, while hilarious, seem to sort of overuse repeated variations on “HOW DARE YOU!”

        • Randy M says:

          David Brin is both Leftist and Libertarian by my reckoning. He can be interesting but his default seems to be ‘blowhard’.

      • Ben says:

        I would recommend Naked Capitalism, which explores just how fucked up the financial system really is and how far away it is from the Adam Smith/Ayn Rand ideal. The woman who runs it, “Yves Smith”, is a former investment banker.

        It is entirely illustrated by cute animals and the odd graph, but without the comic sans captions.

    • lmm says:

      What with taking his old posts off the internet, no-comment posts, and arguing that the oppression and dehumanization he’s experienced are the same as that experienced by women and minorities (I would love to hear that I misunderstood this), I’d say Alexander is already drifting to the right.

      • Matthew says:

        I don’t want to speak for Scott, I don’t, in fact, think he’s tried to play the oppression Olympics. Here’s an alternative interpretation:

        Would you agree with the statement, “Black women have suffered more oppression than (US) women in general”? Or how about “Gay blacks have suffered more oppression than blacks in general”?

        Assuming that you said yes, would it not also be fair to say that “the lot of geeky white males has been harder than the lot of white males in general?” That’s not a claim that geeks have suffered remotely as much as women or blacks, but it is a claim that white males, like women or blacks, can also have multiple identities, some of which have been larger handicaps than others.

        Relatedly, the fact that men possess more power in society than women in general does not rule out the possibility of subcontexts where specific groups of women have more power than specific groups of men. I think at least some feminists would make the claim that it has never happened, and indeed is not possible, for women to oppress men. And in the sense of power dynamics across entire societies, I would agree with the first half of that. But I don’t think it applies in every context.

        On a slightly different note, I was emotionally abused by my then-wife to the point where I ended up with PTSD for a while. The idea that women can never do anything to men that would cause them to have triggers is absurd.

        • lmm says:

          white males, like women or blacks, can also have multiple identities, some of which have been larger handicaps than others.

          I fully agree. But I read Scott’s post as claiming that these handicaps are the same, which is, well, false.

          The idea that women can never do anything to men that would cause them to have triggers is absurd.

          Sure. But the idea that all triggers are equally valid, that a community has just us much responsibility to avoid all triggers, or that since a community can’t avoid all triggers there’s no need to make any effort to avoid triggering people… well, that might be true, but I’d want to see an actual argument to support it. “By claiming my trigger is less valid than yours you are dehumanizing and triggering me” is not an argument, because it doesn’t actually contradict the original claim.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          I fail to see how arguing that nerdy truth obsessed people deserve a safe space is the same as saying that the oppression felt by nerdy truth obsessed people is the same as the oppression felt by other minorities.

          Do you agree that the rationalist community serves as a safe space for people who care about truth and rationality, and that it is unreasonable to expect us to also be a safe space for people like Apophemi? I think this is the important point of Scott’s essay.

        • lmm says:

          Serving as a safe space for geeky white males is not something particularly I care about, and I think the same is true for most of the community.

          (Nor, if I’m honest, is serving as a safe space for women. But I think that’s more likely to be instrumentally useful for goals that the community does care about).

      • Alexander Stanislaw says:

        What’s with passive aggressiveness? (Not to mention blatantly uncharitable reading).

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m not offended by this, but if I am actually reading the top 10% of rightists and the bottom 90% of leftists, I want to know. Where can I find the top 10% of leftists?

      • Oligopsony says:

        See my reply to Stanislaw above. It could be fairly charged that “leftist” here equivocates in order to provide a bit of parallelism and allow the sneaking in of the people I have a high opinion of personally as the Sturgeon tenth. If you want the 10% best of what tumblr is 90% of, I’m less familiar at least as far as the “internet” label is applied, and as far as musty old tomes go I don’t think there’s very much prominent third wave core theorizing that you would take to on a purely stylistic level. (More impenetrable academic traditions need their Fesers, I think, to put them in translation.)

        As a nearest available thing that I think you might like stylistically, I would recommend the second wave theorists who didn’t really bother with Freud, such as Delphy and Mackinnon.

        (Alternatively, if your goal were balance rather than insight, I’m sure you wouldn’t have any trouble finding and recognizing the 90% that neoreaction sits at the top of.)

      • Multiheaded says:

        Where can I find the top 10% of leftists?

        You could do worse than read every issue of Jacobin. (Here’s a sample selection of articles.)
        The old Exile crew – Mark Ames, Matt Taibbi, Connor Kilpatrick, John Dolan.
        The North Star occasionally has non-awful contributions.
        Kasama Project is Maoist-leaning.
        Among accessible left feminists I like Laurie Penny and Zoe Stavri.
        Corey Robin. Peter Frase. Chris Dillow.
        Unlearning Economics – a bit too scholarly for me, probably just right for you.
        Crooked Timber is almost entirely liberal, but still pretty good on occasion.
        Ask Oligopsony for more.

        • Jed says:

          You’re right, Jacobin is excellent. And without your recommendation I probably wouldn’t have read the fifteen paragraphs it took me to realize that their snark toward all the other political tribes is reciprocated, so it’s justified. So thanks.

          I don’t get Unlearning Economics, though. This first post I clicked, “18 Signs Economists Haven’t the Foggiest,” opens like an armed drunk on roller skates:

          1. They defer to the idea that “all models are simplifications”, as if this somehow creates a fireguard against any criticism of methodology, internal inconsistency or empirical relevance.

        • Multiheaded says:

          1. They defer to the idea that “all models are simplifications”, as if this somehow creates a fireguard against any criticism of methodology, internal inconsistency or empirical relevance.

          Perhaps this refers to the stereotypical Chicago School-ish economist who extends abstract free-market principles into incessant, inflexible defenses of actually existing capitalism, using that talking point to deflect evidence from the lives of ordinary people. Surely you have some impression of that type even if, like me, you know nothing about economics.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          The problem is the first comma.

        • Benquo says:

          Crooked Timber rec seconded, though it’s less important they’re in the top 10% of the left (although they are) so much as that they’re an eclectic mix of mostly intelligent leftists and left-centrists who *read* lots of things in the top 1% of the left (so you will find other good stuff through them).

        • Scott Alexander says:

          First two things I found on Jacobin were this, which totally botches genetics in the service of a political point it never actually makes outright, and this, which makes a point I agree with so poorly that if I didn’t already know what it was getting at I would disagree. This is the best the blogosphere has?

        • Multiheaded says:

          Scott, in all honesty, I think you go looking for the bottom X% on the left on purpouse. Yes, the genetics article is shit. Why don’t you try Frase on work and copyright then? Ackerman on economics? Vivek Chibber (not actually very divine) criticizing “post-colonial theory”? Robin on conservatives? Mueller on culture?

          I’ve refrained from saying this out loud for a long time, but now I’m going to echo some other folks here: your standards of charity for left and right writing look vastly unequal.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          Multiheaded, I went to Jacobin, looked on their front page, and they were advertising five articles. I read the headline article, plus one of the five which was on genetics which is a special interest of mine.

          Also, I thought you were going to stop being mean to me?

        • Multiheaded says:

          Sorry again, dude, looks like we’re both butthurt 🙁 Seriously, though, what happened is that I was temporarily unable to respect the subjectivity of your stance like I promised I would, after I felt like my side was being interrogated over every minor failure and judged by first appearances, while ideas that I think are sophisticatedly insane and morally corrupt were examined with a downright cheerful, accepting tone.

          You feel pissed that I’m intolerant of your tolerance, feeling it to be a violation of your subjectivity; I feel pissed because of your tolerance for intolerance, feeling that right and wrong aren’t being judged fairly.

      • BenSix says:

        I second the recommendation of Chris Dillow.

        If you don’t like SJW posturing, though, I’m not sure you’ll get on with Penny, Stavri et al. Comment is Free puts Slate and Salon to shame when it comes to ferocious assertions of progressive dogma.

      • St. Rev says:

        I like Ken MacLeod a lot, though he may count as too heterodox. http://kenmacleod.blogspot.com/

        Cosma Shalizi is worth paying attention to. The only good thing I’ve ever seen on Crooked Timber was his discussion of the ECP in the context of Red Plenty.

      • nydwracu says:

        Seconding this question, but I suspect the answer is that it’s all tucked away in books and papers. The thing about the American situation today that I find the most viscerally infuriating is that, with very few exceptions, most of which are within the LW-sphere, I just can’t find an opposition that shows any signs of knowing how to think in any terms besides status, half-baked moral preening, or naked sadism without hitting the books. (Then again, I’m not that much better; I haven’t even finished the anti-anti-reactionary FAQ yet, and it’s been how many months?)

        My most reliable heuristic is that leftists who the blithering idiots — the righteousness junkies and wannabe death camp operators — hate for their alleged fascism tend to be worth reading. So, Žižek and Mark Fisher. (There’s something interesting going on with Žižek that I don’t really have a term for yet; there’s some sort of spectrum and he’s on the opposite end of it from a lot of the people I absolutely can’t stand.)

        graaaaaagh likes the Frankfurt School, and I suspect I would if I’d started with someone besides Marcuse — I think I’m lucky that didn’t make it past his half-baked utopianism to his pseudo-Reichianism. (Christopher Lasch, easily one of the most important authors of the 20th century, started out Frankfurt School, but by the time he started writing, he was already the sort of writer who gets cited a lot by Catholics.)

        But I really don’t know what there is that’s worth reading. I have a copy of that Gramsci thing lying around, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. And I liked reading what I read of Capital, but mostly because, in terms of the mindset required to read it, it’s the closest you can get in philosophy to doing math.

        And it’s hard for me to go out looking by myself; I know it’s a bias to be overcome, but I have a hard time working up the motivation to go anywhere near a minefield packed with crypto-Reichian sex-cultists and crocodiles who show no sign that they wouldn’t put my people in death camps if they had the opportunity.

        • Oligopsony says:

          I think what you dislike is preachiness, whereas Žižek’s default rhetorical mode, like neoreaction’s, is shock value. I enjoy reading and hearing Žižek, and I agree with a lot of his object-level conclusions, but his actual method of analysis is pretty horrible, IMO, mostly because, like the Frankfurt school, he’s tossed out the political economic content of Marxism for Freudian and Hegelian mysticism. If you’re more sympathetic to Freud then Ž and the Frankfurters may be more palatable.

          That said, books are where it’s at. Of course books are where it’s at, and why would anyone expect otherwise? Social history and historical sociology are especially thick with good left analysis, especially compared with what you’ll get in even the better commie newspapers like North Star, which are too polluted by tactical and day-to-day considerations.

          Don’t take the death camp thing too personally. It’s axiomatic, when we have these conversations shouted over the abyss of liberalism, that the inhabitants of one cliff face or the other are headed there (if we all don’t, as seems far more likely, just tumble ingloriously into the abyss from simple erosion.) Doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other in the meantime.

        • Multiheaded says:

          graaaaaagh likes the Frankfurt School, and I suspect I would if I’d started with someone besides Marcuse — I think I’m lucky that didn’t make it past his half-baked utopianism to his pseudo-Reichianism

          I love the hell out of Adorno, but I suspect you might not. He’s the furthest thing from death-camps there is, but while I love his melancholy, you might say it’s also preachy/emotionally blackmailing. He didn’t like liberals, though!
          Also, yes, what Oligopsony says – don’t take the eliminationist rhetoric too close to heart! We feel frustrated, powerless and slipping downwards to some awful future!

        • suntzuanime says:

          You know who else engaged in eliminationist rhetoric because he felt frustrated, powerless and slipping downwards to some awful future?

        • Multiheaded says:

          No damn Beigeist!

        • nydwracu says:

          ‘Preachiness’ is in the general semantic area of what I can’t stand, but more accurately it’s probably… something there isn’t really a term for, but which ‘preachiness’, ‘utopianism’, ‘overreliance on shock-and-horror anecdotes’, and ‘outrage porn’ all approximate. Hyperbolic statements of shock that the world is not that friendly a place combined with demands that Something Be Done with no consideration for possible tradeoffs, aggregate good (do I really have to say ‘utilitarianism’? I’m not a utilitarian but it works well for governments wrt their subjects, up to a point…), the motivations of actors characterized as enemies, the inescapability of a certain degree of suckitude, the need to take into consideration concerns like long-term stability, sham-promoting scientific illiteracy, and so on. The Trayvon Martin case is a good example: Benjamin Crump is very good at handling the media, there may have been a crime wave in the area, and if a football player kicks you to the curb and starts beating the shit out of you of course you shoot him — but if you think any of that is even plausible you’re a goddamn racist.

          As for the death camps, it is profoundly disappointing to see so many self-proclaimed Marxists shouting about how those goddamn toothless meth-addicted idiot rednecks are all inferior and should be killed, and I really can’t take seriously the people who do that. It’s just Brahmin identity politics, escalating BDH-OVFA caste warfare to a Streicherite level; if they’re going to be ‘radical’ they shouldn’t be uncritically parroting ideology, and if they’re going to be on the side of the proletariat they shouldn’t be wanting so many of the ones in this country put to death. I mean, Jesus, look at the meth thing. There are obvious economic causes! Which I haven’t seen anyone but Jim Goad talk about! And when a guy who’s written articles praising the Kochs is better about that than every single part of the leftosphere that I’ve seen, well…

          (Menckenites, the lot of them.)

          I don’t see what there is in Freud, and I hate Reich, but the Laschian concern, “ah, you see, even if you are not rotting in a factory or stuck doing meth to make it through three jobs, things are still awful for you, and here is why” is very relevant today, and is only going to become more so as atomization continues to break everything even for the people who aren’t stuck in sweatshops or doing meth to make it through three jobs.

        • Multiheaded says:

          I’m surprised to hear that about meth. Ew, those people sound like fucking bourgeois philistine shits. This said, however, a Marxist would not necessarily see anything hypocritical or corrupt in supporting the lumpenproletariat against a well-settled labour aristocracy.

          If I really do hate anything about the ideological implications of “traditionalism”, it’s how a class with a tradition of kicking people in the face can smugly tell itself that other groups have a symmetrical “tradition” of getting kicked in the face. (Which is sometimes applied retroactively by reactionary historiography, after the status quo is disturbed.) It is the most vile thing humans can do to each other over long periods of time, an attack not just on freedom or well-being but on the sanity and identity that freedom and well-being enable. I’m (slightly) affected by this myself, so I think I know what I’m talking about. And I do believe in the importance of roots and a sense of connectedness.

          As for conspicious outrage, I actually think it’s not so harmful (where are the Trayvon riots, huh?), because maybe democracy is supposed to work as a contest of social posturing, outrage and manipulation, and doesn’t need to be a “republic of letters”. The Athenians were butthurt and outraged enough about Socrates to outright kill him, but Athens went on just fine. If Machiavelli could defend the people as an arbiter of public affairs in 15th century Florence – where he’d undoubtedly seen shit that would scare us! – maybe all these traits of public debate are features and not bugs. Technocrat geeks can hardly approach them objectively; of course it’s tempting to believe that high verbal intelligence only leads to trouble if you don’t have much!

          the Laschian concern, “ah, you see, even if you are not rotting in a factory or stuck doing meth to make it through three jobs, things are still awful for you, and here is why” is very relevant today, and is only going to become more so as atomization continues to break everything even for the people who aren’t stuck in sweatshops or doing meth to make it through three jobs.

          Oh, but it’s such an unsurprising pink (not so much red) talking point, in my experience. Not that I altogether disagree.

        • Oligopsony says:

          Although I’m sure they exist, I can’t recall ever seeing radicals do the anti-redneck thing. Anti-first world-whites-in-general, sure. But (open) sectional hostility to poor rural whites specifically is an almost exclusively liberal concern. (You would probably be correct to say that radical brahmins, like liberal brahmins, prefer to associate with other brahmins regardless of what they say “officially” – though this applies to conservative brahmins as well.)

      • I’m not sure what your standards are, but I’ll put in a good word for Making Light and Amptoons.

    • If the neoreactionaries are the 10% of the right-wing internet, I don’t want to know what the other 90% is like.

  22. dhill says:

    As a member of doge fanboy generation, I can only say “so butthurt, much complain” and go back to clubbing with ruler of Venice seals, Dude.

  23. Michael Edward Vassar says:

    Real bros oppress both geeks and women. Feminists find oppression annoying but masculinity sexy and scary so they oppress geeks in the name of fighting back against bros.

    • Andy says:

      That doesn’t track at all with what I’ve seen of (mostly younger) feminists, though my observations may be purely local, as I generally avoid Internet feminists.
      Geeks and bros, though they may be frequently in opposition to one another over the definition of masculinity, both have a tendency to put a great big “NO GURLS ALLOWED” sign on their favorite haunts. So geeks can have some attitudes that appear very bro-ish without quite being bros.
      And sometimes the two get combined in one person. One person I know presents as a complete “bro” – highly masculine, sports obsessed, more than a little misogynistic – and has interests in both ancient Hebrew and computer programming.
      And I may be missing somethin,g but how to feminists “oppress” geeks?

    • AJD says:

      Real bros oppress both geeks and women. Feminists loathe bros with the flaming intensity of a hundred suns, and sometimes get pissed off at geeks.

    • Oligopsony says:

      Real bros oppress… geeks

      Afterwards, they graduate high school.

    • Anissimov says:

      Haha, this is true.

      • Multiheaded says:

        Michael, the combination of your visage and your comments is so embarrassing that I’m telling everyone how you once claimed that Sparta won the Battle of Marathon. Yes, I’m feeling mean tonight.

  24. CThomas says:

    Can we add things in a similar vein?

    Mine is the use of the phrase “you know” in formulations like this following: “I don’t have time to do that because I’m, you know, employed.” “He wouldn’t do that because he’s, you know, polite.” “That’s exactly what I would expect of Bob because he’s, you know, uneducated.” I didn’t see this much until recently but lately it’s everywhere. It’s supposed to have the effect of insulting one’s adversary through something like sarcasm, but it’s a little hard to put my finger on what the phrase is really supposed to do analytically. In any event, I find it annoying so it should be banned along with the rest of the list.

    CThomas

    • Kaminiwa says:

      Huh, I read “you know” differently in all three examples. In the first it reads out similar to “duh”. “I’m employed, so I don’t have time for this. DUH”

      In the second I read it out as shock/revulsion. “He’s… polite o.o” Although it could also easily be read in the first or third sense

      In the third, I read it out as “but I’m not really discriminating.” “You can’t trust THOSE sorts of people, y’know?” Because, of course, it’s not really discrimination if EVERYONE knows that it’s based on true facts, right?

      Doge.

  25. Perhaps butthurt can be counted as a rape joke, and deprecated on those grounds– this misses the primary point of ignoring emotional pain, but deprecating rape jokes is a good idea anyway.

    Michael, geek oppression of women can be real oppression. See Kathy Sierra.

    Part of the situation is that women with geekish tastes sometimes leave geek venues because the mainstream culture is more comfortable for them. I use immigration/emigration as a good rough measure of how good places are to live.

    Something I’d like to see less of, online and off, is assured-sounding estimates of the motivations of large numbers of people.

    “Lives in his mother’s basement” is an interestingly complex insult. It’s somewhat about poverty, but it’s also about a claim of basic social incompetence (it includes a claim of not being able to get a woman into his life), and of course, no sympathy for any emotional difficulties. It’s also an (American?) implication that of course, getting away from one’s family is a crucial part of adulthood.

    Scott, I consider your emphasis on the poverty angle to be a sign of infection by the SJ meme– the damned thing is extremely infectious, and I’m hardly immune. In my case, I have the excuse of believing that the SJ project is an emotionally abusive effort to address some real problems.

    I’ve seen two men who hate SJ (that sort of stiff “I saw something like that in college (decades ago), and the only thing to do is ignore them” reaction) say “I’m white, I’m playing life on the easy setting”. One of them didn’t used to identify as white. And a woman who hates SJ, but is using some of their ideas to analyse fiction.

    • Crimson Wool says:

      Perhaps butthurt can be counted as a rape joke, and deprecated on those grounds– this misses the primary point of ignoring emotional pain, but deprecating rape jokes is a good idea anyway.

      It’s a reference to the pain which follows a spanking, actually.

      • Thanks.

        ckp (upthread) gave some related terms from 4chan: ““ass-pained”, “butt-blasted”, “rectally-revaged”, and my favorite: “shitter-shattered””, which definitely made it sound more like rape than spanking. On the other hand, I don’t know which meaning most people intend when they use it.

    • Sarah says:

      I am having a hard time finding a middle ground between SJ and sociopathy.
      I don’t like what SJ does to my brain. But realistically it’s not actually feasible for me to not give a shit about anyone. Could use a little advice.

      • Tentatively offered: Try rationality. What do you actually care about? What are your resources? What do you think might help?

        Part of the problem with SJ is it’s such strong stuff (with it’s hostility and unlimited obligations) that it throws people off their experience and common sense, so that you have to make things conscious that might have been working fairly well without supervision.

        Your question was perhaps improved because I first read it to mean that you had trouble distinguishing between SJ and sociopathy.

        Some activists see problems with SJ. They don’t have any traction yet, though.

        • Sarah says:

          It’s helped somewhat to write out in excruciating detail what the consequentialist version is. (What does this person want? Better services for the disabled/more recognition of her personhood/etc. How effective is she at accomplishing that? Can I help her? Is it a priority for me to help her? etc.)

          Frankly, though, in the case of many SJ-ish people I interact with, it’s *not* that they want me to drop what I’m doing and volunteer at their organizations or give them donations. It’s that they want me to adopt and agree with their *language*. And sympathize with their aims.

          Which seems like a small thing, but oh god, somehow, believe me, it ISN’T.

          The only thing that seems proof against the thought-system is saying “well, I don’t care about you, fuck you. I have no morality, bwahahaha.” But I’m not going to say that to people I *love*.

          In SJ-land, there is no “I think you are mistaken” if it’s about the whole enterprise. There is no such thing as a conservative or libertarian of good faith. “I think you are mistaken” is read literally as “fuck you.”

          Since I cannot prove a lover, I am determined to prove a villain? Is that how it’s gonna have to be?

          • I didn’t even think of the problem of having gung ho SJs you’re very close to.

            Again, tentative advice, and I’m not kidding about the tentative– I need to write it up, but I’ve been working on an essay about appropriate cautions for giving and taking advice. What I’m going to say is in the category of “sounds reasonable but is completely untested”.

            Keep cultivating your understanding of what’s wrong with SJ– it’s anti-utilitarianism. Scope sensitivity is discouraged, and so is concern about effects. It might be deontology on steriods.

            Your observation that they don’t actually want you to *do* things is part of what’s wrong with the ideology. There are major abuses which are being ignored (especially in the justice system) in favor of adjusting language.

            The language issues are hard because what words mean depends so much on people and context. SJs believe that they can be absolutely certain about words. Minor point: I don’t think “soup Nazi” weakens opposition to real Nazism. I’ve been told that being Jewish gives me no standing on the question.

            Something stronger than “I think you are mistaken” might be a good idea if you’re sure they’re mistaken.

            Look for support groups– there have got to be other people in your situation, and support groups might know more about when to continue to engage, how to limit topics of conversation, when to limit contact. and probably other topics I haven’t thought of. On the other hand, I have no idea where to find a support group, and if you find one, please let me know.

            Unfortunately, they have ideological reasons for not registering the pain they cause, which makes it risky to tell them about the damage they’re doing. On the other hand, loving people isn’t the same thing as giving them a license to hurt you.

            Part of what snagged me into reading a lot of RaceFail was the implication that I’m a bad person (privileged, and don’t tell me that isn’t what it means) if I bailed out. I’m hoping I will never give people that sort of handle on me again. They talk as though they own virtue, but really, they don’t.

        • Randy M says:

          Are you saying that there are support groups specifically for people friends with progressives?

        • More exactly, I’m *hoping* that support groups for people who are taking emotional damage from SJ exist.

          It might be too early for them to have formed yet.

      • Jed says:

        If you need to find a middle ground between social justice and not caring about people, then you’re saying social justice is the only way to care about people.

        • Oligopsony says:

          One may want to meet midway between Dallas and Ft. Worth, but that doesn’t commit you to holding that approaching Ft. Worth is the only way of fleeing Dallas.

      • St. Rev says:

        You’re encountering one of religion’s modes of transmission: hijacking morality by semantically gluing attractive ideas to ideas that help structure the movement.

        “You don’t think people should kill other people? Murder is a sin against God. This proves that you hate sin and love God. Therefore you also believe…*insert payload here*…and if you reject any part of this you actually embrace sin.”

        ‘Sin’ doesn’t exist; neither does ‘social justice’, in the sense that the activist fringe uses it. Both concepts glue harmful things, neutral things and helpful things together in a way that serves their respective movements. It’s difficult work picking the payload apart, but it’s necessary.

        tl;dr: SJ and sociopathy aren’t actually an opposing pair. SJ is itself a mashup of compassion and sociopathy.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Both concepts glue harmful things, neutral things and helpful things together in a way that serves their respective movements.

          Well, you really don’t need a movement to bundle helpful and harmful things together; individuals do it perfectly well in a private way (“Don’t bow to public opinion” + “Be a heartless jackass”). I think most ideological movement implicitly have an “honest” means-justify-the-ends argument in them, but their adherents reflexively try to bury it to eliminate any perceived flaws in the movement’s attractiveness. Stereotypical leftists seem more prone to outright denial (“what we do isn’t terror, and innocents won’t get hurt”) while stereotypical rightists might make a twisted framework that contradicts basic intuitions (“freedom corrupts but power does not”, “we need artificial scarcity”). Of course, means-justify-the-ends might be dishonest too (a dictatorship of the proletariat turns out to be a dictatorship of the bureaucracy, enslaving women is a horrible idea all around…)

        • Multiheaded says:

          means-justify-the-ends

          Um, no, I meant to say that the usual way around.

        • St. Rev says:

          Not sure what you’re saying here. It’s certainly true that individuals are imperfect pattern-recognition engines and routinely match distinct phenomena to the same concept.

          The key difference with groups or movements, though, is that their pattern-matching errors are subject to a lot more natural selection, and the evolutionary tautology applies: stuff that exists is stuff that’s good at existing.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Is “butthurt” actually an anal sex reference? I didn’t catch that and that just makes it even worse.

      • The meaning of “butthurt” can only exist in people’s minds. I find it easy to believe that some people (probably influenced by 4chan) take it to mean anal rape and some people (perhaps the majority) take it to mean the pain from a spanking, which actually makes more sense in context.

        I didn’t think about it very clearly, and vaguely thought it was some sort of itchy infection.

      • ozymandias says:

        I’ve definitely seen people use a “butthurt = anal rape” etymology but I always associated it with the pain you get from falling on your ass.

  26. Second thought for Michael: Geeks are somewhat more likely to listen (ooh, new shiny idea!). I’m not sure what might change a bro’s mind.

  27. Scott says:

    One can only hope that Dogecoin’s relevance and value continues to rise. Would that it gets beaten to death so thoroughly that Fox News viewers can suffer the same existential dread at the mention of the word that you and I do.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I agree that most invocations of single data points of extreme weather are usually inconsistent and merely validating one’s already-determined conclusion. On the other hand, I think it’s important to discuss the harmful effects of both ends of the temperature spectrum. People die in extreme weather (and more importantly, the quality of play at the Australian Open declines!) and we expend large amounts of energy making our local environments more temperate. Quantifying these factors is important for the debate about what we should do rather than what the physical phenomena are.

  29. Platypus says:

    Regarding doge, metahumor, and venetian doge: I think a good practice in general is not to be the person who says “stop enjoying that thing, it’s not actually funny, it’s just lame and stupid!”.

    If we are going to make a practice of telling people that the things they enjoy are actually lame and stupid, I’d like to nominate sports and the olympics, please.

  30. Eoin says:

    Really? You remember the Watergate scandal? 😉

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Careful now! All I said was “I remember when the Washington Post was uncovering the Watergate Scandal.”

      And I do remember when the Washington Post was uncovering Watergate. It was the 1970s. I learned that one in history class and I remember it still.

  31. JRM says:

    As the legal representative of the internet, here is my response, sanctioned by my client:

    1. Fanboy: Wil Wheaton has used the term on himself, and he’s geek blogging royalty. “Squeeing fanboy,” can be a rip, but it can be a term to show love for the product/band/service/blog/book/human. Nothing wrong with that. Further, if there can be fangirl, there should be fanboy.

    2. “Butthurt,” is juvenile and stupid. Mostly agree. We’re sorry.

    3. I am convinced that there is global warming, but the arguments both for and against in the public sphere are often alarmingly stupid. You may shame anyone who cites global warming for any specific weather anecdote. My client is sorry.

    4. At some point, you have to protect your own self by staying off the dumb parts of the internet.

    5. Meta-humor can work with just a little sophistication. (On one site, my most upvoted posts by far were both meta-humor.) Meta-humor is that one weird trick that they don’t want you to know about.

    6. Nope. The “mom’s basement” cracks were popular back in the dark ages as a slur on baseball stat nerds who wanted to know how the sport really worked and crunched numbers. Some people cracked at them about not attending baseball games and so just sticking to numbers and stats rather than understanding how great Joe Carter was because he had 145 RBI’s. This was *incredibly* frequent. It’s not that you’re poor. It’s that you obviously have no life because you try to manipulate numbers into other numbers, which is impossible anyway.

    7. Brogrammers rule! Pencil-necked geeks, gritty freaks, scum-sucking peaheads with a lousy physique. Brogrammers strike them with stones and reject those not taking testosterone supplements.

    8. My client, the internet, is not responsible for this. People have been complaining about the prior generation since the second generation of humans. My client asks that you retract this slur upon its character.

    9. Also not my client’s fault.

    10. Maybe *not* clicking through to memecenter is a thing you could do.

    Sincerely,

    –JRM, on behalf of the internet

    • Eric Rall says:

      8. My client, the internet, is not responsible for this. People have been complaining about the prior generation since the second generation of humans.

      I’d like to submit the following amicus brief:

      “We have fallen upon evil times, the world has waxed old and wicked. Politics are very corrupt. Children are no longer respectful to their elders. Each man wants to make himself conspicuous and write a book.”

      Bassett’s Scrap Book, 1908, attributed satirically to an ancient stone tablet

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I am impressed that the Internet’s legal counsel took time out of his busy schedule of dealing with anti-child pornography crusaders, DEA agents, the RIAA, the MPAA, Jack Thompson, the NSA, and all those people fighting Net Neutrality to deal with me.

  32. blacktrance says:

    Well. I have to say I disagree with almost every one of these, with the exception of 8 and 9. I love doge.

  33. nemryn says:

    Also, I’ve always seen the ‘mother’s basement’ thing as being about lacking the ambition or maturity to move out, rather than about socio-economic status.

  34. Douglas Knight says:

    Doge/doge is not a simple pun (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but a comparison between dialects of different languages: lolcat and venetian.

  35. Brian says:

    Thank you for being yourself. I find it calming.

    That is all.

  36. Brian says:

    On a more contentful note, I usually see “dude” as appropriation of my rich Californian culture a relatively innocuous linguistic variant of “guy” or “fella”, not as a slur of any kind. “Bro” gets used as a slur (though IME not exclusively, or even primarily, by feminists), and “dudebro” definitely does (that’s more of an SJ thing), but “dude”? I’m not seeing it.

    At worst it might connote a little immaturity and undersophistication, but not in a political way.

  37. chauvinistic celestial-undefined hetero-elitist bigot says:

    will contribute a megadoge to a pool for a wordpress dogecoin tipbot

  38. Auroch says:

    Hey now, the Venice one isn’t so bad. I’ve been making that joke since back when it was referring to corgis instead of shiba inus.

  39. Doug S. says:

    I would have guessed that “doge” was a deliberate misspelling of “doggie” but I’d have to go to The Imageboard That Must Not Be Named to test this hypothesis.

  40. Pingback: Rationality | Bloody shovel

  41. AR+ says:

    “For example, suppose a headline reads: ‘Jewish community saddened over swastika graffiti on synagogue;’. ”

    Does this ever actually happen? On reflection, it occurs to me that this could just be due to the loudest people getting the most attention, but all the interactions between Jewish people and swastikas I am aware of rarely results in sadness, so much as public outrage at best and litigation at worst. The Jewish community is extremely aggressive in its response to actual or perceived anti-Semitism, to the point that you cannot name a building in America after a sunk American ship because it was sunk by Israel, so honoring its departed sailors would be… anti-Semitic, I guess?

    Not that I think that’s wrong, mind you. I consider it a most admirable audacity and social shrewdness to constantly play the victim-card while being so powerful, and succeeding. I wish non-Jewish whites could be nearly so effective at it.

    • Mark says:

      Um, what? Presumably “a community is sad about X” is compatible with “there is public outrage about X” and “some people file lawsuits about X,” so I’m not sure why you’re trying to introduce an obviously charged discussion about how Jews exploit victimhood.

  42. MugaSofer says:

    I just realized that every other blog I read would probably have had at least one commenter suggest that making unpopular demands like this is clearly part of some deep game Scott is playing. Yet here, everyone starts a genuine debate over whether metahumour is ever funny. Must be something to do with the writing style…

    6. Appeal to “I bet he lives in his mother’s basement!”

    Get it! He’s poor! He has low socio-economic status! Haha! That’s funny!

    7. “Dude”, “bro”, or God forbid, “dudebro”

    Somehow when I wasn’t looking these words turned into things Internet feminists call anyone they dislike. The usual referent seems to be geeks and people who disagree with them about gender issues.

    Scott, are you ever going to explain your Deep Insights into this sort of thing? You’ve been talking about the plight of us low-social-skills-people a lot recently.

    Any chance you’ll ever share these advanced social skills you learned during your Five Thousand Years? Obviously, some of these techniques may be evil. But you have unparalleled access to the rationalist community, so I’m guessing the instrumental value could be high.

    Oh, and I’m crazy curious, of course. Hmm, I think I’ll ask this on a few posts in the hope it’ll be seen.

    • Brian says:

      SJ discourse often uses language that lumps men with generally low social skills (“geeks”) in with men who have generally high social skills but belong to cultures conflicting with SJ goals (often, but not exclusively, “bros”). This often leads male geeks to feel personally attacked when that verbiage comes up, even if they weren’t being targeted in context, with predictable consequences. Consider the use of “creepy” here, and the reaction in this child thread.

      I don’t think Scott quite captured this with the examples you quoted — “dudebro” has seen plenty of discussion upthread, and the “mother’s basement” crack is pretty squarely targeted at men with low social competence — but it is a thing that happens. Outgroup homogeneity probably has a lot to do with why.

  43. beets says:

    I’m upset at all of you for taking words like ‘bro’ and ‘dudebro’ seriously!

  44. Doug S. says:

    I have an urge to write a parody of “That’s What Bilbo Baggins Hates” based on this post but I don’t know if it would be appropriate.

    • Roman Davis says:

      That gives me a great idea about a story where the wise and rambunctious wizard Yudkowsky goes to the Shire, to S Hill, where the Scott S* is smoking his pipe. The shy Scott can only manage to say good morning…

      *I’m not try to tempt fate here. It just works a lot better with alliteration.

  45. St. Rev says:

    Regarding 3.

    One particular sub-sub-sub-meme that I’ve seen floating around takes this form:

    “X claims that global warming has stopped for the past ~15 years. But in fact 20XX was the Nth hottest year on record!”

    These are almost completely unrelated statements. The first one is about the rate of change of temperature, the second is about the absolute value of temperature. The second statement doesn’t rebut the first; there’s no conflict at all. If global temperature never changed, 2013 would be (tied for) the hottest year of all time.

    I pointed this out once on LW, and got a fair amount of flak for it. I don’t comment on LW any more.

    • Roxolan says:

      If you know that global temperature *does* change, and that it follows slow trends instead of changing wildly from year to year, then 20XX being the hottest year on record *is* evidence of an ongoing global warming.

      It seems excessively formal to require people to spell those assumptions out loud before you can accept the argument, given that they’re common knowledge.

      • St. Rev says:

        As stated, the context is the claim that temperature has been essentially stable for the last ~15 years. Given that that plateau started out hot, observing that it’s still hot in no way falsifies the assertion that it’s been flat over the period.

      • St. Rev says:

        Bottom line: The second statement isn’t actually a rebuttal to the first, it’s a mechanical response to the inferred connotations of the first. Rationalists ought to be better than that.

  46. Harvey says:

    Hah. Scott hates things. In other news, water still wet.

  47. John says:

    Great post. I have to say though, that I would have happily lived out the rest of my life blissfully unaware of the “doge” meme if I hadn’t read this.
    Between the original post and a person, I think you’ve captured most of the meaning of 6. “I bet he lives in his mother’s basement!”, but there’s an additional implication that I think is important. Low SES– yes, loser–yes, but it’s meant primarily as an attack on the target’s masculinity. Compare “I bet he lives in the wilderness in a cabin he built himself!”; still low SES, and maybe the next Unabomber, but doesn’t carry the same insult. Or “I bet SHE lives in HER mother’s basement!” Doesn’t work, does it? It’s meant to convey poverty/ wimpiness/ afraid of the world/ dependent/ mama’s boy/ can’t pull any chicks all in one. It’s a negative on every aspect of traditional masculinity.
    This shade of meaning actually fits well with your original post, because who falls back on the “basement” insult when they are not able to construct a coherent argument for their position? Yup, it’s the “dudebro” people– feminists. You’re either “hyper”masculine (meaningless as typically used, applies to almost any degree of masculinity) or you’re a scared, poverty-stricken little boy who needs to MAN UP! Got that? The possibly nonexistent space between too wimpy and too manly is, of course, defined by feminists. The great thing about this is that, by using the “basement” insult, they are not just throwing out an irrelevant ad hominem, but implicitly accepting traditional masculinity (and thus traditional gender roles) as right and good. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

  48. Nathan Cook says:

    There’s a limit to how low your socio-economic status can be when your mother can afford an adult dependant and a house with a basement to keep him in. So where is the mock? Just that you’d rather sponge of your relatives and hide from the light of day than live in society and get a job. A slightly more fair criticism in the economic climate of the late 90’s than that of today, no doubt.

  49. Pingback: Link blog: funny, humour, social-justice, sociopath | Name and Nature

  50. John says:

    Regarding dudebros, I suggest rewiring your brain so that whenever you hear “dudebro”, you think of this video and its sequels:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjJzwl7W4vE
    And any accusations that someone is a dudebro can be interpreted as referring to these guys and not taken seriously.

  51. Anomalocaris says:

    So on to propogate the is meta humor funny debate too much more, and I get that no one thinks that it’s hugely annoying and terrible, but I’m not a fan of the idea that all meta humor is the same sort of obnoxious people trying to be clever. Since you mention Douglass Hofstadter, I’m going to say that the reason that it works for him is not that he’s inherently better at making jokes that reference themselves, it’s that he’s using it as a humorous way of making his point, but there’s a deeper meaning than “haha the joke referenced itself.” In fact, beyond that, I think he also does it because the idea of recursion and self-reference matter a lot to him and this is a way of celebrating it in humor, the same way that he celebrates it in the art of Escher and the music of Bach. And, hopefully, he’s not the only one. It’s my personal belief that the postmodernists ruined everything for people who actually cared about self-reference as a way of exploring the universe, by making everyone think that metaness is clever but not deep or actually interesting. This has both lead to a many people looking at it like a piece of contemporary art and saying “my 5 year old daughter could do that” and making the obnoxious cookie cutter sort of meta joke, but it’s also led to people lumping all meta humor in with the stock self referential jokes. I agree that there are a lot of obnoxious people out there, but it seems that people don’t distinguish between good and bad meta jokes, and I think that it’s problematic how quick people are to dismiss not only meta humor but meta anything. Also, I, and probably Douglass Hofstadter too, resent the “it is so algorithmic a computer could do it.”

    That said, if it really is true that only Douglass Hofstadter can pull it off, then has Randall Munroe found a way around it? http://xkcd.com/917/

  52. Random doge-crap showed up on Facebook: http://dogeweather.com/

  53. Jeremy says:

    How much dogecoin would someone have to offer to tip you before you would accept?