In today’s fast-paced, meme-based culture, some words which may have been useful at first but which eventually become so overused to the point of abuse that they lose all descriptive value and meaning. A good example of this is the term manic pixie dream girl, which was originally used to describe a type of writing trope but eventually became tossed around so much that even the creator of the term expressed their regret for creating it.
What can we do with meaningless terms that no longer have any value? I propose they be put out of their misery. The following is a list of prime candidates for liquidation.
Social Justice Warrior (SJW)
You know there’s something wrong with a political term when you can’t find anyone who sincerely identifies themselves using that term. It tells you that you’re most likely dealing with a snarl word and not a valid term. Who tends to use the term SJW? Well anyone from neo-Nazis to Youtube gamer celebrities. In general it seems to have been made popular by various quasi-famous individuals who constantly complain that they have been silenced by these nefarious Social Justice Warriors. How do we know they are being silenced? Well because they tell us- on Twitter, on Youtube, on TV, on podcasts, at public speaking events. Totally silenced. If it weren’t for all those readily accessible venues why, we’d never hear their opinions at all.
Some might suggest that SJW never had any real meaning, that it was simply dreamed up by the aforementioned idiots so they could portray themselves as persecuted. I disagree. I think the term once had some validity, but it lost it once it became the sole property of the far right and the confused far right that likes to call itself “classically liberal.”
I was first introduced to the term via a radical leftist friend, and we took it to describe certain people we’d both encountered among various leftist discussion venues online. An SJW was basically someone whose politics revolved entirely around devising new ways to call people out for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc., often by creatively interpreting something that they once wrote so as to fit the accusation. Calling someone out usually involved a post, often with screenshots (very problematic in radical activist security culture), in which the offended would declare their exasperation with the “so-called left,” often deciding that it was as bad as if not worse than the far right. Every call out post would be followed by several comments from sycophantic friends, assuring the “victim” that they were appalled and that this was “no comrade of mine!” The person who is called out is not allowed to defend themselves, lest they commit even more sins- microaggressions, “mansplaining,” etc. In short, for us, SJW described a certain type of leftist who was over-zealous in identity politics and often very weak in theory and actual activism.
Within leftist circles, SJWs can actually be a problem because besides not actually doing anything activism-wise and being huge hypocrites most of the time, they often sow distrust and dissension within political organizations. A leftist activist tarred by rumors of being misogynistic may be rejected offhand without any good reason. Some people, having been so unjustly labeled or having seen the same happen to a friend or family member might leave the movement altogether. That’s why SJW, at the time, seemed like a useful term, if only because it could distinguish between someone legitimately complaining about racism, sexism, or whatever, and those who think that doing so is the highest form of radical activism, to the point where one should actively invent behaviors to call out if no real cases present themselves. The latter is just one symptom of a larger problem within the left, which is that while the right looks for converts, the left looks for traitors.
Now if you’re not a college student and you’re not involved in leftist politics, you don’t really have much of a reason to be up in arms about SJWs. Sure, you’ll encounter them on internet comment sections, but they are far outnumbered by edgy little shits spouting racial slurs these days. Yes, I’m aware of some cases where people with this kind of mentality ruined the life of someone who probably just made a poor choice of words or in some cases, didn’t really do anything wrong at all. That said, if you’re overly upset about SJWs you might want to take a moment to determine exactly what influence these individuals have actually had on you, personally. I was actually involved in venues where these people actually existed, and I managed to get around them just by subtly avoiding them and blocking them until they were out of my life for good. Certainly not a plague taking over Western civilization.
Nowadays the term has been so bastardized by the far right that I don’t use it anymore, even when I’m referring to people who actually deserve the label. These days I just call those people morons.
Bro as an insult seems to have garnered mainstream popularity thanks to the myth of the “Bernie Bro” which helped deliver the White House to H.R. Pufnstuf last year. The term bro, often used by those who would rightly be labeled Social Justice Warriors according to the explanation above, is basically a liberal centrist snarl word. It is often used by American die-hard Democrats as a cudgel against the left.
Want single payer healthcare? Well there’s more than one issue, dudebro! Health care is totally a white male concern! Fifteen dollar minimum wage? Did you even consider what POCs (People of Color) want? Of course not, bro!
The implication here is that the person expressing a dissenting opinion must be a 18-25 year old insecure white male who possibly plays fast and loose with the norms of consent. It’s particularly embarrassing when the target of the label is gay, non-white, or in some cases, a woman. Whatever the case, using labels like dudebro amounts to inventing an entire negative persona for someone just because they disagree with you. You may even be right, but that doesn’t mean you need to construct a strawman of them so as to help you hate them with a clear conscience.
Dudebro is like the SJW of the left (or part of it) and it needs to be put down.
This one got old quickly. It started with a media-driven moral panic about how the younger generation (often they can’t even decide who is or isn’t a part of said generation) is supposedly the softest and most pathetic ever. Yes, only in recent times has anyone ever suggested that the youngest generation is softer, weaker, or dumber than previous generations. Nobody has ever raised this issue in the past, so it must be objectively true. Oh…wait.
Two key components of the snowflake trope were the safe space and the trigger warning. The media gave the public a very poor understanding of these two concepts (which are far less widespread than people realize), and based on that they declared that young people are hypersensitive weaklings who can’t handle the slightest adversity.
One reason why snowflake was bullshit from the beginning is because whenever you’re complaining about the youth, even when it’s justified, you must always ask who raised those youth. Not only raised, in fact. The question is who shaped their entire world? The answer to that question will tell you whose responsible for the state of the youth. Did you find a soccer league that actually gives out participation trophies? Is that league founded and run by the children themselves? I’m guessing no. Are grades being inflated in schools? Are the schools run by the pupils? Is it the pupils who complain about poor grades, or their parents? Put simply, the rule of thumb is- problem with the youth equals problem with the adults who shaped and controlled their entire world.
The second reason why snowflake is idiotic is because much like SJW, it came to be adopted by conservatives and far rightists, who tend to be the most sensitive people on the planet. American conservatives equate the use of “Happy Holidays” to a “War on Christmas.” They want extra tight controls on immigration because they don’t feel safe around Muslims and people who claim they aren’t Muslims but are probably lying because they look like they’re from the Middle East and everyone knows the Middle East is Muslim. And what about the far right? Well these are people who can be sent into a rage just because a TV commercial features a black male clerk helping a white female customer find the vacuum cleaner she’s looking for (“You don’t understand! It’s SUBTLE race-mixing propaganda!”). Hell, conservative media is basically one outrage after another over the stupidest, most trivial crap.
Of course for a year or so it was fun to throw the snowflake label back at those who had made it popular anytime they were complaining about some trivial thing that had offended them. I think now it has run its course, however.
Maybe instead of just throwing the snowflake label around, thus perpetuating a flawed concept, we should just put it down and acknowledge that people are going to express their dissatisfaction with things they don’t like. Sometimes those things will be trivial. Sometimes they will be objectively wrong about the topic. It doesn’t mean that person is oversensitive unless they spend virtually all their time nitpicking and screaming about every little thing that offends them.
That’s all for today. Do you have any words or phrases you think should be put down and sent to the glue factory? Leave your suggestions and explanations in the comments.