Apologies to the sensitive neckbeards out there. May 3, 2011 1:53 PM   Subscribe

How does MetaFilter use "neckbeard", and to what extent is it considered polite or impolite speech?

So, what's up with the neckbeard thing? I've seen it used on Slashdot and reddit to mean somebody people find unacceptably nerdy - role-players, Linux enthusiasts, bronies - but here it's recently been used con a lot of brio, and with a specific meaning.

In this thread, it or its cognates are used here, here, here, here, here and here - and multiple times in reference to these uses. And the usage itself is interesting. I don't think I've ever seen somebody follow up:

When will you neckbeards learn that software execution is at least equally important as the underlying hardware?

With:

I actually worked with ELO Touch touchscreen CRT monitors for several projects I did in the 1990s and had to roll my own touch UI. I even ran these touch CRTS in Windows to get a feel for how eg. Netscape worked with touch input.

That's the kind of statement that one would normally expect from the people being called neckbeards, rather than the ones doing the calling, which suggests to me that the rules are different here.

Is this a specifically MetaFilter usage, or is it just contextual to this post? And, in general, how impolite is "neckbeard" considered as an insult here? More than "nerd", less than "asshole"?
posted by running order squabble fest to Etiquette/Policy at 1:53 PM (242 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Tea tree oil is pretty good for soothing sensitive neckbeards.
posted by Zozo at 1:59 PM on May 3, 2011 [15 favorites]


Beans.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:03 PM on May 3, 2011


The usage here seems pretty straightforward insulting to me. Painting someone with a broad brush stereotype as an attempt to marginalize their opinion, cognate to "unwashed" or "basement-dwelling" or similar.

It's not something I particularly recall making the rounds before, though.
posted by kafziel at 2:05 PM on May 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Metafilter is not sentient, thus can not "use" neckbeard. You're terribly confused.

That said, and addressing your "polite/impolite" question... I'm guessing that the use of that term with 50% of the population will get the shit slapped out of you.... The rest of us are proud we can grow hair on our necks (or, eventually, anyplace at all, for that matter).

But, don't get me going about nose or ear hairs....

That's about as much time as I want to spend thinking about this...you'll have to figure out all the other hair stuff by yourselves.
posted by tomswift at 2:06 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Neckbeard" has a very specific application in my world. It's a basement-dwelling young adult with minimal social skills, some sort of tech job, a total dismissiveness toward any opinion he does not share, a tendency toward the Ayn Rand side of libertarianism, and a neck beard.

But, like the word douchebag, I think it's an unnecessarily rude way to talk to someone, or refer to someone. And since part of my complaint about neckbeards is that they are unnecessarily dismissive, using the word seems a bit ... neckbeardish.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:09 PM on May 3, 2011 [34 favorites]


From http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=neckbeard:

Talkative, self-important nerdy men (usually age 30 and up) who, through an inability to properly decode social cues, mistake others' strained tolerance of their blather for evidence of their own charm.

I believe the rage-comics kids call these people "Melvin"s.
posted by GuyZero at 2:10 PM on May 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't think it's so much offensive as silly. Calling someone you disagree with unhygienic is a total ad hominem, unless they are in a beauty pageant.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:10 PM on May 3, 2011


I always took it to mean "you care about this, more than I do. Your level of interest and attention to detail is abnormal, and therefore wrong. The way I care is normal, and therefore right. I know how those people are, therefore you are probably also overweight and ill-kempt, and use a hair trimmer once every moon to groom your facial hair in a futile and socially-unaware attempt to disguise your double chin." It isn't quite at the level of "I just threw a mint Boba Fett in your hugbox, so fuck off that-a-ways" but it is definitely on the insult side, to me.
posted by adipocere at 2:11 PM on May 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


My beard extends down my neck somewhat. Do I need to shave more? Did I miss a fashion memo?
posted by Maximian at 2:12 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


And, in general, how impolite is "neckbeard" considered as an insult here? More than "nerd", less than "asshole"?

it's sort of a more specific version of "nerd". I would say going from nerd to neckbeard is akin to going from pussy to cunt. Well, it's not as bad as cunt, depending on where you live.

Excuse the language, but we are talking insults here.
posted by GuyZero at 2:13 PM on May 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Neckbeard.
posted by slogger at 2:14 PM on May 3, 2011


Metafilter is not sentient

Speak for yourself.
posted by Meta Filter at 2:15 PM on May 3, 2011 [37 favorites]


Neckbeard is to nerd as Unix Sysadmin is to Windows Desktop Monkey.

(speaking as a formerly neckbearded unix sysadmin).
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:16 PM on May 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


Well, I think that since any Neckbeard due to how they are would not know they are a Neckbeard, it doesn't really offend anybody.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:16 PM on May 3, 2011


I don't take a lot of offense at the term (but then again, being female, I guess it's not really directed at me), but it's such a low-hanging fruit insult. Honestly, the worst thing you can say to me is a comment on my facial hair? It's about as lame and mindless as "HURHUR GO BACK TO YOUR MOTHERS BASEMENT", and reeks of "oh yeah? well at least I can get a girlfriend". Guess what? You don't have to be statuesque and clean-shaven to be successful. Age of the nerd, baby.

And my favorite rebuttal to casual nerd-bashing is still this gem from explosion.
posted by specialagentwebb at 2:17 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everything offends somebody. I myself am offended by trees.

Fuck you, trees.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:17 PM on May 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


tomswift: Metafilter is not sentient, thus can not "use" neckbeard. You're terribly confused.

Forgive my metonymy. MetaFilter - meaning the people who use MetaFilter - has speech codes and group speech - taters, beanplating, "same as in town". I was wondering whether the speech codes around neckbeard were different here, given the (generally nerd-friendly) culture.

adipocere: "I just threw a mint Boba Fett in your hugbox, so fuck off that-a-ways"

I have no idea what this means, but it's beautiful.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:18 PM on May 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's sort of an odd term, it can be insulting but it also implies great experience. I've never actually heard it used in anger, I've only ever heard it in self-deprecating or ironic contexts.
posted by Skorgu at 2:18 PM on May 3, 2011


A nerd or a geek is a quiet, awkward person with inclinations toward math, science, technology, or academics.

A neckbeard is a loud, smug, sarcastic know-it-all who takes pride in smacking down anyone and everyone with his pointless, arcane knowledge.

Totally different.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 2:20 PM on May 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


"Talkative, self-important nerdy men (usually age 30 and up) who, through an inability to properly decode social cues, mistake others' strained tolerance of their blather for evidence of their own charm."

so....pretty much most of us, other than the girls (and the children).

So...what the hell do we call the girls? (I'm assuming we're just going to tell the children to get off the friggin' lawn).
posted by tomswift at 2:21 PM on May 3, 2011


mint Boba Fett

I think you probably meant "unopened, pristine Boba Fett", but I initially thought of, like, a Boba Fett figure wrought from Frango Mint chocolate, and it worked really well.
posted by everichon at 2:21 PM on May 3, 2011 [22 favorites]


Further to the topic of the post, I always grew more antsy as Beck neared.
posted by everichon at 2:26 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I always thought it was a reference to the Unix Wizard meme, and that you call someone a neckbeard when you want to insinuate that they are a BOFH-like elitist that won't answer your question until first linking you to ESR's "how to ask questions" page and giving you a lecture about why you're bad for asking how to do such-and-such because such-and-such is a foolish idea in the first place.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:30 PM on May 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


everichon: "I think you probably meant "unopened, pristine Boba Fett", but I initially thought of, like, a Boba Fett figure wrought from Frango Mint chocolate, and it worked really well."

Hah! I definitely thought it was a Boba Fett in (breath) mint form!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 2:35 PM on May 3, 2011


Inasmuch as my beard grows in all patchy-like on my cheeks and very thinly on my lip and not at all on the front of my chin, but elsewhere spectacularly, I am considering cultivating my neckbeard and beginning a stunning new grooming fashion craze.

You may laugh now, but bear in mind I also invented not wearing pants, and look how popular that is now.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:35 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck you, trees.

Are you saying you're racist against tree-huggers?!
posted by P.o.B. at 2:37 PM on May 3, 2011


'Neckbeard' is almost always pejorative, right? Use it with the same discretion you would most other insults. It will probably piss off a few people, but a lot won't care and might even adopt it ironically. As a software engineer who hasn't shaved in 5 or 6 days, I can say I don't care much for the term.

Rhomboid, you mean greybeards?
posted by MrFTBN at 2:37 PM on May 3, 2011


The first five examples were all written by one user. I don't think that makes it a MetaFilter thing.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:39 PM on May 3, 2011


Neckbeard, as used among people who I would consider neckbeards, indicates somebody who has achieved technical l33tness at the expense of social skills. So it's not just a loser in the basement playing a game on a computer, it's a loser in the basement teaching his Arduino-based bot to play the game for him so he can post footage on YouTube of an Elmo doll with wires pouring out the back slouched up against a pile of books, head lolling while one arm pounds on a keyboard on cue, goldfarming some corner of WoW.
posted by ardgedee at 2:41 PM on May 3, 2011 [18 favorites]


There was a guy I new in middle school with a neckbeard. No other beard (there was a facial hair policy at our school), just the neckbeard. It was pretty obvious that puberty had hit this guy like a ton of bricks over the summer, and didn't get to ease into shaving gradually. Apparently, no one told the poor kid that dudes have to shave their necks, too, because facial hair is not bounded by the tip of your chin.
posted by phunniemee at 2:42 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm also confused about whether having a beard that extends to your neck is universally frowned upon / considered deeply out of it. And when I do a google image search for "neckbeard", I get plenty of results that look normal and sometimes even stylish; random examples: 1, 2, 3. Fashion gurus please explain.
posted by naju at 2:46 PM on May 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like neckbeards the things and neckbeards the dudes so even though I know it's usually intended as at least a somewhat insult, it always makes me smile also.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:48 PM on May 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


While trying to establish whether Abraham Lincoln had a neckbeard, I found a bunch of pictures of a clean-shaven Lincoln in later years. He looks surprisingly like Henry Winkler...
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:51 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Forgive my metonymy.
posted by John Cohen at 2:54 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who're you calling a scruffy looking, pointless arcane knowledge herder!
posted by infinite intimation at 2:55 PM on May 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


To me, neckbeard = slightly more tech-oriented Comic Book Guy. So, I essentially agree with AZ's interpretation.
posted by maryr at 2:55 PM on May 3, 2011


Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. I have no problems with generic guys who read comic books.
posted by maryr at 2:55 PM on May 3, 2011


I'm also confused about whether having a beard that extends to your neck is universally frowned upon / considered deeply out of it.

I wouldn't read it too literally. There are guys who can pull off neck hair, as you linked. I think it's more a placeholder for the stereotype of hardcore tech nerds as being less personal hygiene-focused, e.g. likely to just let a beard grow how it will and get unkempt rather than take the trouble to trim and shape it the way a lot of beard guys do.

Also, maybe I read it wrong, but I always thought of it as being at least a somewhat affectionate insult.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:57 PM on May 3, 2011


Generally, I think of it as an in-group insult, where you're all playing D&D, right, but that dude complaining that the loot is inconsistent with the roll tables to the exclusion of the actual adventure — he's always a fucking neckbeard.
posted by klangklangston at 2:57 PM on May 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


Also, Thoreau was a neckbeard.
posted by klangklangston at 3:00 PM on May 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I was wondering whether the speech codes around neckbeard were different here, given the (generally nerd-friendly) culture.

I think mostly it just doesn't have a lot of currency on the site in general. A search for "neckbeard" yields less than 200 comments ever using the word, compared with e.g. 7000+ cites for "nerd".

Of the hits for neckbeard, a fair number of them fall to maybe a dozen users over different periods in the last six years or so, with the rest scattered among one- or two-off users.

And, in general, how impolite is "neckbeard" considered as an insult here?

When it's used as a vague insult, it's about as impolite as any other vague insult, which is to say impolite indeed but probably not likely to be seen as overly provocative.

Sometimes it's used more as a neutral or even semi-affectionate classifier, like a more specific variant of "nerd", and I don't think it carries any charge of pejorative over to those cases. Intent seems to matter here.

In any case, mokuba's repeatedly falling back to it in that thread is annoying but also seems to not really be a standard mode on Metafilter in any case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:04 PM on May 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Metafilter is not sentient

Also, there is no cabal. Also, the cabal is not sentient. Also, these are not the neckbeards you are looking for. Move along.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:06 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


It seems like one person is using this word. Maybe you should ask them.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:11 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You definitely see neckbeard used in a sort of complementary, admiring way - 'You could do such and such, but the real neckbeards would always do so and so'. Where such and such/so and so have something to do with, I dunno, some obscure facet of networking in Plan 9 from User Space. I suppose 'greybeard' is used that way more often.

Also, my brain is half-telling me that one of the Bell Labs UNIX people, or maybe a 'phone phreaker type actually sported a luxuriant neckbeard, and he's the origin of the term - Dennis Ritchie, Ken Thompson, someone like that?
posted by jack_mo at 3:16 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


*pulls chain on lamp*

heyyyy, why doesn't it work when I do it?
posted by not_on_display at 3:17 PM on May 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Neckbeard: Treant of the Ether.
posted by clavdivs at 3:18 PM on May 3, 2011


It seems like one person is using this word. Maybe you should ask them.


Well, about half a dozen people use it in that thread, bluedaisy, myself included, although I think you're right that it's mainly keying off one person's usage. I hadn't really been paying attention to the spread, until I noticed, as you say, that it was mainly coming from one person, and then noticed that person also designs touch-based UIs - which is pretty technical, and not the kind of constituency I'm used to seeing call other people neckbeards. And then the discussion kicked off in that thread, and I was worried I was participating in a derail, so here we are.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:23 PM on May 3, 2011


Also, my brain is half-telling me that one of the Bell Labs UNIX people, or maybe a 'phone phreaker type actually sported a luxuriant neckbeard, and he's the origin of the term - Dennis Ritchie, Ken Thompson, someone like that?

Apparently both Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie had some pretty luxurious beards back in the day, so that could be. I couldn't find anything definite, though.
posted by jedicus at 3:23 PM on May 3, 2011


Yeah, I'm having trouble finding much of anything good for neckbeard's etymology. No mention in the Jargon File, though I don't recall it worrying itself much with fashion so that's not a shocker. Checking Google Books only turns up a handful of cites, basically all from the last few years (though I did find one passing mention of "neckbeard" as a style of face hair in a mid-19th C. book).

The neckbeard itself has obviously been around for as long as people have felt like not shaving their necks, but I'm beginning to wonder if the current frequency of pop use of the term is in fact a genuinely recent development.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:28 PM on May 3, 2011


While talking with a game developer about what position I would like to end up in, he asked what if I was interested in AI. I replied that I "did not have the beard" for such a thing.
posted by hellojed at 3:28 PM on May 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Remember, every great wizard started off with a mere neckbeard.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:36 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Should I grow a neckbeard? on AskMe.

Apparently both Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie had some pretty luxurious beards back in the day, so that could be. I couldn't find anything definite, though.

Yeah, after Google-imaging every super-geek I could think of, they almost all have splendid beards, but none sport the neck variant.

Notable exceptions include Bill Joy and Bram Moolenaar, both clean-shaven. If I was a neckbeard, I could probably turn this fact into a terribly amusing joke about the merits of Vim as compared to Emacs.

The neckbeard itself has obviously been around for as long as people have felt like not shaving their necks

The Emperor Nero had a neckbeard, possibly to disguise what Suetonius called an 'over thick neck'.
posted by jack_mo at 3:48 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, at the places online that I go to where neckbeard is thrown around, it means "socially awkward person," but not JUST that: it refers a really specific kind of social awkwardness, where you possess superiority or arrogance while being oblivious to how tiresome and grating you're coming off. It's the guy you know who thinks everyone—everyone—is dumber than him and worthy of open contempt because of it. If you had to sum neckbeardedness in a single line, I guess it would be: "No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."

Contrast that to the other 4chan-esque term that gets used for the socially awkward: sperg, short for Asperger's. Oh my god, please don't ban me, I didn't make it up, I'm only reporting it here in the interests of SCIENCE. Sperg also means someone whose mannerisms and behaviors keep them on the outer edge of society, but it doesn't have the negative connotations of haughtiness and insularity that "neckbeard" carries.

Of the two, sperg (despite the origin of the word) is used quite a bit more affectionately than neckbeard, and is the one much more likely to be used to refer to yourself. I suppose that part of the distinction is that sperginess is universal: we can all relate to trying to be social or engaging but just flat-out not figuring out how to do it. Spergs fail because they try way too hard...neckbeards fail because they stopped trying long ago. I know which one I'd rather be.

Another reason that neckbeard seems to be the harsher of the two is the element of how you ended up this way: a sperg is seen as just something you are—something we all are at one point or another—whereas a neckbeard is something you become. You can't help being a weird awkward dork, but you CAN stop yourself from becoming a nitpicking condescending snob.

Again, this is just about the one little corner of the web that I spend time on; I accept that the language of nerd-taunting is inclusive enough to allow for alternate and more affectionate usages of neckbeard, as jack_mo posits.

I hope I haven't caused a derail. I don't think anyone here would argue that sperg isn't hateful and insensitive, and I certainly don't disagree. Not that this makes it any better, but the people I see lobbing it at each other seem to mean it in the sense of "you're like someone with Asperger's, which is sorta hilarious" not "you literally have Asperger's and that makes you a bad person." A very fine distinction, and one that probably won't pass muster here, but one worth pointing out.
posted by Ian A.T. at 3:52 PM on May 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


I think it's funny and not insulting at all.

I call the guy who does my office computer stuff "a neckbeard" even though he doesn't have facial hair.

Every place I've ever worked, it seems, there has been a jovial, heavy, neckbearded guy who wears a t-shirt and jorts who handles the networking and computer systems.
posted by jayder at 3:55 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I picked it up from the Something Awful forums. I take Astro Zombie and GuyZero's meanings. Not just nerds or geeks but smug, self-rightous, often misogynist nerds and geeks. The type to say 'well, actually...' and follow it with 3 pages of 'logic based' minutie.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:57 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's funny and not insulting at all.

Follow the links in the OP and see how it was used in that thread. Imagine if those words were being said in response to something you were saying. "When will you neckbeards learn" and "Neckbeards simply lack the cognitive ability to see this I guess" and "No, see, this is, again, another neckbeardy thing to say." It's a very loaded insult.
posted by kafziel at 3:58 PM on May 3, 2011


On preview, what Ian said. It's in-group policing.
Ignatious J Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces is a neckbeard.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:59 PM on May 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am a Linux geek and a dude whose shaving is intermittent, so I'm pretty much the target of "neckbeard."

As an insult, I think the most problematic part is its sexism.
posted by Zed at 4:00 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seconding the idea that, in my experience, this isn't a Mefi-specific thing or something that is used a whole lot here.

I find it funny because I've known a guy who had a full-on neckbeard and it was viscerally disturbing. (And I assume that's why he kept it)
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:06 PM on May 3, 2011


I do not use the term "neckbeard", because I find it cacophonous as a word, in addition to being a pointless and stupid insult. It is one of those insults that only serves to make the user seem petty, overreaching, and more interested in channeling in-group opprobrium than in contributing anything intelligent. So it has its uses, I guess.
posted by Errant at 4:07 PM on May 3, 2011


I always pictured Neckbeard as some kind of pirate. Like Bluebeard. Only, he'd be all like, "Arrrrrrr! Take another dig, matey, and I'll be cuttin' yer neck into a shiny red beard! Arrrrrrr!"

But then I always pictured Bluebeard as involving a merkin to pair with blue balls. So I guess, consider the source, is what I'm saying.

Also, by "always," I mean I just this second thought of it. But then you knew that.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:12 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]



The Emperor Nero had a neckbeard, possibly to disguise what Suetonius called an 'over thick neck'.
posted by jack_mo at 11:48 PM on May 3 [1 favorite +] [!]




The Emperor Aldo had a perm and a mustache : )
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:12 PM on May 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I find it funny because I've known a guy ..
meant to add: I find it funny because it reminds me of him, but I don't want to see it become a thing here.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:14 PM on May 3, 2011


Ignatious J Reilly was assuredly not a neckbeard. Regardless of the intended or received meanings related to a neckbeard being socially maladroit, an underlying technical expertise is required. Ignatious was pompous and evasive but had no underlying skills of any sort that I can recall.
posted by Babblesort at 4:17 PM on May 3, 2011


As for the actual "facial hair on the neck" aspect of calling someone a neckbeard, I don't think it has much to do with implications of bad hygiene, and I don't think it's a reference to a famous neckbeard-possessor, I think it has to do with what we'd broadly call Laziness As A Lifestyle Choice.

Meeting people is hard, putting yourself out there is hard, trying to grow up and become part of adult society is hard. But staying home alone is easy, being arrogant and dismissive by default instead of open and engaged is easy, and tearing down anyone who actually attempts to do something while never actually making something yourself is easy.

So it's not really about the beard, it's about something that the beard represents. Growing a beard is...well, no one will pretend that growing a beard is hard, but you do have to maintain it, trim it, and just generally spend time paying attention to your appearance in a way that this sort of person finds beneath them. Much easier to just stop shaving and let the beard grow in wherever it wants.
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:19 PM on May 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


I wasn't offended, merely frustrated the discussion was about where my hair may or may not be growing.
posted by wierdo at 4:22 PM on May 3, 2011


Huh, bizarre. I guess I am in the minority on this, but I have always used neckbeard as a very specific compliment for chaotic-good, high-achieving, systems-thinking nerds. To me, a neckbeard is someone who has the chops to be a Unix sysadmin, is a great programmer, believes 100% in open source philosophy, sees things in terms of systems, is probably a great DM, speaks precisely and deliberately, etc. Think Richard Stallman.

I also don't share the association with pomposity. My archetypal neckbeard has limited social skills, perhaps, but is generally earnest to a fault and only lectures at people because he really thinks this stuff is fascinating and wants, desperately, to share it with you. Upon further reflection, I think my time as a Johnnie had a big influence on my perception of neckbeards, and I will be careful with my use of this term in the future. I guess I need a new term for my favorite breed of nerd.
posted by dialetheia at 4:24 PM on May 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Ironic when you call someone a neckbeard in order to get the last word in an internet argument about Mac vs. PC.
posted by smackfu at 4:24 PM on May 3, 2011


smackfu, it had actually turned into an iPhone discussion.

</neckbeard>

did I do it right?
posted by wierdo at 4:28 PM on May 3, 2011


Wait, are people picturing an actual "neckbeard" as a regular face-beard that extends down the neck? Or a carefully shaved face, leaving a grease-slicked, curly and bushy beard to only grow on the neck, beneath a pimply, bare-shaven chin?

Because I always assumed the former until I met a dude who deliberately sported the latter and man I dunno why but I found it a goddamn awful thing to look at.
posted by churl at 4:28 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


did I do it right?

I prefer "Actually, technically..."
posted by Zed at 4:30 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's the female equivalent of a neckbeard?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:30 PM on May 3, 2011


I hate to think what that might be.
posted by dg at 4:37 PM on May 3, 2011


Wait, are people picturing an actual "neckbeard" as a regular face-beard that extends down the neck?

That, or an eight-day growth on the flabby neck that doesn't quite count as a beard but is more than stubble.
posted by jayder at 4:38 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


As an insult, I think the most problematic part is its sexism.

I think this is one of those 'almost always a guy' thing
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:45 PM on May 3, 2011


The type to say 'well, actually...' and follow it with 3 pages of 'logic based' minutie.

Well, actually, "neckbeard" is the result of an unfortunate typo created by someone who didn't know how to use Emacs, having only used PICO before.

The actual term is NECKBEAR (in all caps). Few people have actually met a NECKBEAR and even fewer have lived to tell the tale. Actually, I haven't ever heard of someone living after meeting a NECKBEAR, come to think of it.

You see, NECKBEARS are extremely dangerous. They range in weight from 250 to 400 pounds, and though they may look cute and soft and roly poly under that thick layer of winter blubber lies the muscular structure of an alpha predator. NECKBEARS are often found alone after dark lifting entire server racks with one arm and arranging the cabling with the other, or whipping up a small shell script without the aid of a monitor or printout. They just login in, launch emacs or VIM and then write to file. NECKBEARS never typo. They don't need a backspace or delete key. Some NECKBEARS don't even need keyboards. I once saw a NECKBEAR craft something like a morse code key out of a zippo lighter and a stick of gum, which they plugged directly into a USB port. Not only were they able to emulate the ASCII/ANSI keyboard wedge and USB interface by carefully timed, insanely fast clicks of the key, but then he wrote, submitted and then compiled a new patch which was immediately deployed with no errors. Some NECKBEARs have a pair of teeth removed and replaced with metal so they can simply chew on the USB, serial or PS/2 port for more efficient direct switching input.

Speaking of chewing - I once saw a NECKBEAR eat not one but two entire Chinese restaurants down to the basement footings. He said it wasn't spicy enough and that he was still hungry and proceeded to eat the central switching offices of several regional Bell telephone subsidiaries. He immediately took a crap and expelled a commonly available small plastic project box in mustard yellow with two phone jacks on either side. He claimed that it was an Asterix PBX and a custom FPGA circuit that would easily replace a 50,000 line central office and run for 10 years off of a 9 volt battery. I never got to get a closer look because just then a UFO swooped down and stole it.

I once saw a NECKBEAR kiss a baby. That baby grew up to be Andre the Giant, who was actually smarter than Steve Jobs after he started wrestling and drinking professionally and initially invented what eventually became known as the Java scripting language - yet he was never a NECKBEAR himself.

It's also a proven fact that a historically well known but secretive NECKBEAR invented spooning, but only right after they invented really good sex.

Anyway. The more you know, etc.
posted by loquacious at 4:46 PM on May 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


Metafilter is not sentient

Speak for yourself.


Speaking of sentient, I keep accidentally misreading the title of this tab out of the corner of my eye as "Apologies to the sentient." I think I'm going to keep that one in reserve as an album title...
posted by limeonaire at 4:47 PM on May 3, 2011


Huh. I always thought that neckbeard meant precisely the kind of overweight, male nerd that shaves his beard in such a way as to hide the fact that he no longer has a distinct neck due to flabbiness, e.g. Henchman 21.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:57 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Or a carefully shaved face, leaving a grease-slicked, curly and bushy beard to only grow on the neck, beneath a pimply, bare-shaven chin? "

This.

I do remember finding out that to grow a truly epic Civil War beard, I needed to stop trimming the neck, but that's different from the neckbeard, which is a beard grown primarily on the neck, either due to the inability to grow one on the rest of the face or the deliberate trimming of all the hair off the face.

Picture a howler monkey's sack, only made of hair rather than flesh.
posted by klangklangston at 5:02 PM on May 3, 2011


The neckbeard is not to be confused with the chinstrap, a style of facial hair that reflects a completely different set of assumptions.
posted by box at 5:06 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Picture a howler monkey's sack, only made of hair rather than flesh.

Do I have to?
posted by Zozo at 5:07 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


A neckbeard is anyone who a) has a neckbeard or b) uses Linux. On identi.ca (already a bastion of near-neckbeards) "neckbeard" is a literal synonym of the "linux" group.
posted by DU at 5:08 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I prefer "throatee".
posted by josher71 at 5:11 PM on May 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


I did not want to know there was a need for the term, or the actual existence of the term, "Bronies."

On the other hand, it is always smart to be where the nerdy girls hang out...
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:11 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Think Richard Stallman.

I also don't share the association with pomposity.


Does. Not. Compute.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:59 PM on May 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have always used neckbeard as a very specific compliment for chaotic-good, high-achieving, systems-thinking nerds. To me, a neckbeard is someone who has the chops to be a Unix sysadmin, is a great programmer, believes 100% in open source philosophy, sees things in terms of systems, is probably a great DM, speaks precisely and deliberately, etc. Think Richard Stallman.

Agreed. It's a kind of a term of affection and respeck for me. I wouldn't call any old nerd or geek a neckbeard, it requires a certain hyperfocused and detail-oriented mind. Sorry if I've ever caused offense by it, as it certainly wasn't intended.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:00 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the purpose of terms like 'neckbeard' and even some uses of 'sperg' (offensive as it is) is, ironically, to help make us better people or at least better socially. Knowing that the neckbeard is a bad thing to be helps me make some decisions about how I'm going to live.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:01 PM on May 3, 2011


I do think it's a bit of a mixed term. I would normally assume a neckbeard is someone who is fairly skilled (usually at programming), but socially inept and hygenically challenged. The kind of person whose code you might want to use, but probably don't want to work with directly -- expect hectoring lectures, hours-long exposition, lack of ability to read the "help get me out of here" expression on your face, etc.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:04 PM on May 3, 2011


Hmm, among the folks I talk to, "neckbeard" is often an oblique word for "hipster," making reference to the fact that, since a couple of years ago, every fucking hipster has to have a shaggy neckbeard to complement the brow-line glasses, the plugs, and the wrist-band tattoo that "you probably haven't heard of."
posted by LMGM at 6:09 PM on May 3, 2011


As a lookist, othering BADNERD BADNERD! kind of insult I think it's pretty bad and makes me want to dope slap.

I used it myself in an FPP, so I'd like to think it can be used respectfully. Though the potential for ugliness makes me think it would be better not to use it at all.
posted by fleacircus at 6:17 PM on May 3, 2011


which is pretty technical, and not the kind of constituency I'm used to seeing call other people neckbeards.

Huh, really? I've never heard it used by anyone.. non-technical. It's not a very common word, and has specific connotations that I don't think non-technical types would necessarily be aware of.

I always thought its etymology was related to the phenomenon of the UNIX Beard, but I've never given it much thought. It's the mental image that comes to mind though.
posted by cj_ at 6:17 PM on May 3, 2011


I'm confused. Can I add this term to my list of metafilter words that metafilter believes metafilter would be better without or not?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:21 PM on May 3, 2011


I've only read half of the above before skipping here.

Anyway, if I may:

My purpose with the "neckbeard" thing was to use it in response to the "Apple fanboy" shit we Apple-lovers get from the Apple-haters.

This goes back a very very long way -- back to the Apple II vs TRS-80 and Mac vs PC Clone days.

I used the term, and tried to develop the reasons for using the term -- to describe people who are overly chauvinistic about mere hardware functionality and not understanding the human factors involved in productizing and improving upon the basics of what technology is and can be, and also the insistence on over-emphasizing certain low-level technological advantages that do not necessarily scale to the same relative importance in the actual user-day world.

Neckbeardism through time:

• Thinking TRS-80 Model I & III b&w was 'good enough' compared to the Apple II's (admittedly hacktacular) color capability.
• Not understanding the great promise of the power of the Mac's GUI in the mid-late 1980s, preferring the 3rd-party MS-DOS utility xtree and what have you.
• Not understanding why & how Apple's LaserWriter in 1985 eclipsed (in functionality if not sales numbers) HP's LaserJet that had come out a year earlier. This is a prime example IMO since at the tech level both the LaserJet and the LaserWriter were doing the exact same task with the exact same hardware, but at the human level the functional differences were immense.
• Some of the Amiga vs. Apple stuff devolved into neckbeardism, a prime example being the Amiga's multitasking kernel being undeniably superior to the Mac's cooperative multitasking (of say 6.0.x days) and this being extended into the dubious position that Amiga was superior to the Mac as a platform. Yes, Amiga could run multiple floppy copies in parallel thanks to its multithreaded OS. Impressive tech demo, but not a critical thing in the real world.
• Not understanding what NeXT was trying to do with OOP and the NeXTSTEP application frameworks

These days I see Symbian and Android proponents evangelism as neckbeardy at times but it has nothing to do with actual personal hygiene and everything to do with not understanding what goes into the polish, utility, and success of a mass market platform. Prime example with this is the issue of external microSD storage. Geeks love this, and being a geek if I were designing a phone for myself I'd probably add a microSD slot too. But I also understand that things you add to a platform come with their own expenses -- one more thing to break, one more part to forget, one more column of use cases the user has to handle -- that reduce the net utility of the features you add.
posted by mokuba at 6:42 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


As someone who is a big fan of all kinds of beards, and all kinds of nerds, and even loved the homely and obnoxiously self-righteous HD Thoreau, I say we reclaim "neckbeard". Henceforth: just one branch in the phylogenetic tree of nerd awesome!
posted by ldthomps at 6:44 PM on May 3, 2011


I'm confused. Can I add this term to my list of metafilter words that metafilter believes metafilter would be better without or not?

I'm confused, have you ceded judgement on this sort of thing so that community judgement fills in for your own personal judgement? Because if so I'll just fax you my list of "Words I'd rather you didn't say" for this month and then we can be done with it. Otherwise, use your best judgement please. Some people will not be pleased with that, but it's a lot better than pretending that there are hard and fast rules which you followed that let you down. This is a common nerd fallacy that can probably be found in Wikipedia somewhere but ultimately pleasing everyone is impossible and appeals to authority about how to please everyone cause a tautology that makes my head hurt.

And what I'd really appreciate is if discussions about language in MetaTalk didn't always turn into someone saying "Oh great we can't say TURTLEBUTT now either??!"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:55 PM on May 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm really startled. I thought "neckbeard" referred to a beard that is on the chin and neck, starting from around the "chinstrap" line and downward while the face and cheeks are clean-shaven. Which, since it involved peculiar 'did you mean to do that' facial hair, I assumed meant it was somehow linked to hipsters.

I didn't realize people were using it to include a full beard. THANK YOU, METATALK! I AM NOW MORE EDUCATED ABOUT CRAZY INTERNET INSULT TERMS!
posted by rmd1023 at 6:59 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


TURTLEBUTT
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:02 PM on May 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


My purpose with the "neckbeard" thing was to use it in response to the "Apple fanboy" shit we Apple-lovers get from the Apple-haters.

I would politely request that you ditch the polarizing Us vs Them binarism, and the aggro repeated use of neckbeard along with it, if what you want is to have a decent nuanced discussion rather than just provoke people into some sort of yet-again rehash of old "no, Mac!" "no, PC!" stuff. There are far better ways to have a conversation than to try and be counter-dismissive about some perceived dismissal.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:06 PM on May 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


plate of neckbeans
posted by tomswift at 7:06 PM on May 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm confused. Can I add this term to my list of metafilter words that metafilter believes metafilter would be better without or not?


This is why we can't have sentient MetafFilter!
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:17 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


rmd1023: "I didn't realize people were using it to include a full beard. THANK YOU, METATALK! I AM NOW MORE EDUCATED ABOUT CRAZY INTERNET INSULT TERMS!"

NO NO NO. I mean yes, that is what many people erroneously think, and that is what google would have you believe, but all those results are from mainstream usage. Nerd-on-nerd usage, as far as I've seen (and this is what I've always mentally pictured) is a beard that only exists on the neck, and not the face, a la Henchman 21, and uh, Nero.

This is integral to the stereotype, because it is a picture of someone who is so socially inept but convinced of the opposite, that they believe sporting that kind of beard will hide their excess neck meat and/or simulate a strong jawline.
posted by danny the boy at 7:27 PM on May 3, 2011


I didn't realize people were using it to include a full beard.

The people using it thus are using it wrong.

But that's only about the literal meaning of the word, which is when you grow facial hair on your neck but shave your face. It's an old beard style, and can be googled if one needs images.

The insult meaning is, like redneck or mouthbreather, a lazy word that people here use to keep from having to actually think through the true meaning of their words. They mean either a socially-inept computer elitist or something similar, but they'd rather find a pithy word they think makes them sound superior or clever than actually use their words correctly.

You're in the right if you see that word and it sets off red flags of "this is an insult" in your brain. That's how it is intended, and that's how it is used. I wish it wasn't, because I generally think people who post and comment on MetaFilter are an intelligent group who could actually use the words they mean and not resort to lazy insults, but that's how things work here sometimes.
posted by hippybear at 7:37 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Neckbeard.

I'm confused, have you ceded judgement on this sort of thing so that community judgement fills in for your own personal judgement?

Eh, sorry. Didn't mean to dissuade the nuanced discussion of neckbeards.

I honestly don't think I would have as much of an issue with discussions of word usage if they were always brought up like this one was. What does X mean? And what do you mean when you say X? This isn't how usage is usually brought up. It always seems to me that people are looking for hard and fast rules and not trusting others to know how they are using them.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:09 PM on May 3, 2011


Amish Beard + Sideways Mohawk = The Sunflower!


Love you guys, nighty-night. I'm the volunteer neckbeard at the library tomorrow, 12-5 at the Falmouth main branch, gotta get my ten or I'm nobodies idea of a picnic. Check me out though, I'm the guy in the plaid shirt with the weird patch outta the jawline of his beard due to a trimming screw-up, piebald ain't in it, I look like the poster child for anti-scurvy campaign. Wanna go full unabomber, but that shit is itchy yo.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:22 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Monkeytail Beard > Neck Beard
posted by inigo2 at 8:25 PM on May 3, 2011


Monkeytail Beard

Oddly enough that is pretty much my default beard configuration. One of the "connectors" grows in and one doesn't. So I end up shaving both of them and going with a style I call "Floating Mustache."
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:39 PM on May 3, 2011


I always presumed that it was in the style of the bloatee, and that the insult contained therein was that the person thought they were fooling anyone vis-a-vis the state of their neck.
posted by KathrynT at 8:43 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ignatious was pompous and evasive but had no underlying skills of any sort that I can recall.

He had a degree in philosophy and was extremely well-versed in the philosophers of the Middle Ages, particularly Boethius. He's a neck-beard extraordinaire.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:51 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Neckbeard was the greatest pirate of all.

I believe his ship was the deep throat.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:28 PM on May 3, 2011


I'm confused, have you ceded judgement on this sort of thing so that community judgement fills in for your own personal judgement?

That ship sailed long ago...back during the time of Neckbeard, I believe.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:30 PM on May 3, 2011


What's the female equivalent of a neckbeard?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur


Chintitty?
posted by Ann Onymous at 9:42 PM on May 3, 2011


I've seen at least one explanation that implied neckbeard meant fleshy wattles below the chin that emulated a beard in fullness. So like a really fat person's neck rather than any particular style of facial hair. This would solve the issue of sexism, but it seems like a fairly stupid epithet regardless.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:29 PM on May 3, 2011


A brief dialogue from my living room on the essential traits of neckbeardom

m: Whatcha thinkin' about?

f: The female equivalent of "neckbeard."

m: I don't think there's a female equivalent.

f: So, a woman who gets five romance novels from Amazon a day and blogs about them and makes slashfic about their characters and has an advanced degree in Lit and is extremely knowledgeable about such a gender-coded specialty, and goes to ren faires and has a huge stuffed animal collection, she doesn't get a derisive categorical name, beyond "dorky girl?"

m: I always thought it was a term of respect, myself

f: *snicker*

m: I think it denotes a kind of knowledge and dedication to craft that sometimes goes hand-in-hand with a lack of concern for matters seen as trivial.

f: How about "badpants?" Like, she's still wearing the poly-cotton too-short lilac-colored elastic-waisted pants from Sears than Gran put her in at age 8 and that Gran wore, herself. As a woman, you have to be pretty out of touch to not even get the memo that yoga pants or jeans or something are the loungewear of the not-shut-in. Those pants are a pretty dead-giveaway that someone's mind is not on meatspace.

m: But people who go to ren faires have some idea of fashion, even if it's not mainstream.

f: Neckbeards don't go to ren faires?

m: Well, if they did go to ren faires, they'd be more interested in things like buildng cannons than dressing up.

f: So the female equivalent of a neckbeard is... Temple Grandin.

m: No, that's just autism.

f: Yeah, well it does take a lot to get a chick to be that single-minded. That may be a reasonable gender distinction. And isn't autism skewed on gender still towards the y-chromers? Also-also, Temple Grandin is stylin' and make no mistake.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:40 PM on May 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


HIS IS A PLOT AGAINST WELLINGTON BLADES!
posted by clavdivs at 11:43 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a guy who has used the term, and , I think, been one.

You ever seen Michael Moore on TV? He has more hair on his neck than his face. It looks terrible, like he just doesn't give a shit. As my mom, and every girl I've ever dated, has said, grow a beard in your face and chin, not your neck. Trim that shit up.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:46 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


mokuba: I used the term, and tried to develop the reasons for using the term -- to describe people who are overly chauvinistic about mere hardware functionality and not understanding the human factors involved.

Then you should stop using it to describe everyone in that thread who disagrees with you, as it's an insult. I've had that thread stuck at the top of my recent activity for the best part of a week now, and *every single time* there's one of your comments calling anyone who dares disagree with you a 'neckbeard', or defending your use of same as 'I'm only describing the arguments as coming from neckbeards!'. That's shading dangerously close to neckbeard-ism yourself, frankly.

Calling out others for using fanboy or ADF rather falls flat when you go full throttle with neckbeard and haters.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:51 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


While I don't know that I would necessarily classify myself as a neckbeard, I did go to a nerd school that was founded by Chauncey Rose, King of Neckbeards. (Alas, couldn't find a higher-resolution image of that portrait.)
posted by Mr. Pokeylope at 12:13 AM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, who would I call a neckbeard, facial hair or not. It's the same as "forever alone".
posted by Ad hominem at 12:15 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


For a moment, I thought this was a LOTR thread.
posted by arcticseal at 12:38 AM on May 4, 2011


the times i met mike he was clean shaven. Smelled of cheeseburger.
posted by clavdivs at 12:50 AM on May 4, 2011


I've seen at least one explanation that implied neckbeard meant fleshy wattles below the chin that emulated a beard in fullness.

Nonononono. That would be "meatbeard" which is a much better word in all respects.

I'm glad I read this, I hadn't heard of "sperg", which as words go is pretty great – it sounds like an insult in a bad '80s teen movie that clearly nobody including the actors believes is actual slang.
posted by furiousthought at 1:16 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


When will you neckbeards learn that software execution is at least equally important as the underlying hardware?

The moment I read this insulting sentence I KNEW it had to be from an Apple fanboy. They are the only ones insecure enough about their platform to insult others like this.

I was not disappointed.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 1:29 AM on May 4, 2011



So...what the hell do we call the girls?



I'm not sure what we do , but in less gentile territories, the response tends to run along the lines of "Wow. You sounded really fat just now."


(to which I might respond. "Yeah, I am. I bet that REALLY chaps your ass, too. I'm eating a bacon cheeseburger RIGHT NOW. Doesn't that piss you off?")
posted by louche mustachio at 1:33 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Emperor Aldo had a perm and a mustache : )

You take that back! 1. Aldo is a GOD, not an emperor. 2. His hair is NATURALLY CURLY.
posted by jack_mo at 2:17 AM on May 4, 2011


Calling someone you disagree with unhygienic is a total ad hominem, unless they are in a beauty pageant.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:10 PM on May 3


But it's fair enough if they actually are unhygienic
posted by Decani at 3:13 AM on May 4, 2011


I have to say, when I saw 'neckbeard' in that Apple thread, I did think 'can't women be unbearable Apple nerds too?' For some reason 'fanboi' never got me that way.
posted by Summer at 3:19 AM on May 4, 2011


MetaFilter: Nerd-on-nerd usage.
posted by safetyfork at 4:25 AM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


For some reason 'fanboi' never got me that way.

You do get lesbian women who identify as bois nowadays. So fanboi might be seen as a gender-neutral slice of homophobia, which is... better? worse? I dunno.
posted by jack_mo at 5:00 AM on May 4, 2011


f: So, a woman who gets five romance novels from Amazon a day and blogs about them and makes slashfic about their characters and has an advanced degree in Lit and is extremely knowledgeable about such a gender-coded specialty, and goes to ren faires and has a huge stuffed animal collection, she doesn't get a derisive categorical name

Livejournal user?
posted by Diablevert at 5:06 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You do get lesbian women who identify as bois nowadays.

That's what "boi" always makes me think of - its use by butch lesbians and genderqueer people. I didn't realise it had a pre-existing usage, so I'd assumed that "fanboi" was intended as an epicene but derogatory term. Whether "boi" is supposed to be ruder than "boy", I'd never thought about. Huh. This post is providing both food for thought and awesome pictures of beards.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:13 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


My sole use of "neckbeard" slots directly into the Comic-Book-Guy stereotype, and was used kind of affectionately. My neckbeard is a guy who cares a lot about things like when the Eleventh Doctor gave River the Sonic Screwdriver, has amassed encyclopaedic knowledge of things like DC Comics trivia and the backstory to Babylon Five, has put that knowledge where some of the social-normalizing stuff we absorb normally goes (like "shave your damn neck"), and is genuinely baffled as to why other people don't find things like size comparisons between the Enterprise 1501E and Battlestar Galactica fascinating.

I have been a neckbeard, and have congregated with neckbeards. Always good times.
posted by Shepherd at 5:18 AM on May 4, 2011


Whether "boi" is supposed to be ruder than "boy", I'd never thought about.

I just assumed it was a straight-up homophobic slur - until the term 'fanboi' popped up, the only place I'd ever seen 'boi' for 'boy' was in a queer context.

Excepting Avril Lavigne's hit. Though that too might imply homophobia, given the titular sk8er boi's appearance on MTV, a lyrical trope that inevitably calls to mind the 'little faggot' of Dire Strait's Money For Nothing.

I'm now picturing an earnest young drag king with an artificial neckbeard clutching hir dog-eared copy of Smash Hits.
posted by jack_mo at 5:40 AM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, I'm a neckbeard, in that I'm a professional Linux Systems Engineer, AND at the moment I have a neckbeard (well, a minor one. I shave once or twice a week. I have no one to impress. these two things are only tangentially related.)

As a neckbeard, I can tell you it's pretty much an insult to be called one...unless the person doing so is someone you recognize as being of a highly technical bent themselves. So I wouldn't consider neckbeard an insult coming from one of my coworkers, but I might consider it one coming from a random person.

However, I also think that neckbeard is accurate, in that it describes a particular type of individual who is highly technical, invested in the details, who prioritizes accuracy and precision over social niceties and cooperation.

Which then raises the question - can an insult really be an insult if its accurate? In other words, can I take umbrage when called a neckbeard if I'm really behaving like a neckbeard?*





* for the record, I say no.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:42 AM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


However, I also think that neckbeard is accurate, in that it describes a particular type of individual who is highly technical, invested in the details, who prioritizes accuracy and precision over social niceties and cooperation.

Interestingly, "neckbeard" is being used in the thread as an antonym to the much less-used "Apple fanboy", to describe a kind of autistic nerd who refuses to acknowledge that Apple's approach to UX design is superior, but I think you just described Steve Jobs. Perhaps the fanboys and the neckbeards are more alike under the skin (shaven or unshaven) than they think...
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:53 AM on May 4, 2011


Metafilter is not sentient

Not yet, no. But surely you've noticed Matt is no longer quite as active on the site as a mod, right?

What's he doing, down there in the basement, behind the locked door? Ever noticed how some Mefites have their accounts disabled and then return later?

MeFi Mag will have the full story soon.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:01 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


> "Neckbeard" has a very specific application in my world. It's a basement-dwelling young
> adult with minimal social skills, some sort of tech job, a total dismisiveness toward
> any opinion he does not share, a tendency toward the Ayn Rand side of libertarianism,
> and a neck beard.

So it's affectionate, just as I thought.

PS, the spellchecker calls out "neckbeard" as misspelled. Could some neckbeard with the right superpower please add it to the dictionary?
posted by jfuller at 6:25 AM on May 4, 2011


among the folks I talk to, "neckbeard" is often an oblique word for "hipster," making reference to the fact that, since a couple of years ago, every fucking hipster has to have a shaggy neckbeard ...

Whenever I've heard the word IRL (rarely) this is what I've inferred it to mean. But my social circles are likely to have a higher proportion of hipster neckbeards, than IT neckbeards. I do like the idea of Neckbeard the pirate.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:26 AM on May 4, 2011


In my corner of the Internet, NB is used primarily to describe liberatarian Anarcho-capitalist knowitalls who are incapable of talking to people without repeating annoying jargon or resorting to faux-Socratic word games.

This is because they often do have this exact facial hair: hair only on the neck, And because its a perfect analogy for their philosophy--just because a position is logically consistent doesn't make it right, and it's easy to confuse an extreme opposition to the norm for something creative and radical, when actually 'Different' can be just as stupid.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:27 AM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wasn't Neckbeard the Pirate to busy with developing and refining his exhaustive knowledge of early 17th C sailing technologies too busy to gather a crew and actually pillage anyone? That makes him a pretty damn good pirate in my book.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:47 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


1701-E.

...wait, you did that on PURPOSE, didn't you?!
posted by AugieAugustus at 7:31 AM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Which then raises the question - can an insult really be an insult if its accurate? In other words, can I take umbrage when called a neckbeard if I'm really behaving like a neckbeard?*

Sure it can. Intent is 90% of the thing, here; hurled with enough invective, even totally innocuous words can be a gutting attack; applied with enough shared context, even traditionally insulting terms can be signs of affection. It's swampy territory. No one even knew what the fuck a "duclod" was, but it was pretty clearly Duclod Man wasn't being friendly about it.

The key thing is that for "it's not an insult because it's true" to work as a defense, it pretty much has to be coming from the target, not the person doing the hurling. If I call you a name and it bothers you and I say "but it's true", that's a different thing than if I call you a name and you say "yeah, and?"; if we call each other a name because we have a shared understanding that it's a term of affection or mutual joking disrespect, that's another thing entirely. And, notably, only in that last case is no one making the attempt to be insulting.

So if you identify as a neckbeard and so does your buddy and you call each other neckbeards, rock and roll, not much to discuss. If someone calls you a neckbeard derisively and it doesn't bother you because you've reclaimed that identification, good for you, but that doesn't mean they weren't being derisive; jerk behavior is jerk behavior even if it doesn't produce the desired sting.

But, again, swampy territory when we're talking about the intersection of people who embrace a term as a mutually affectionate in-group identifier and people who use the term as a derisive label. Though obviously "neckbeard" is waaaay down the ladder on this discussion in terms of the stakes and the degree of taboo involved.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:32 AM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Neckbeard, as used among people who I would consider neckbeards, indicates somebody who has achieved technical l33tness at the expense of social skills.

I often sport a neckbeard, but I have decent social skills and no l33tness. What am I? A Murphy?

The neckbeard as stereotype hipster vs. neckbeard as stereotype IT guy is a huge disconnect.

I always thought neckbeard = emo guy.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:52 AM on May 4, 2011


> I often sport a neckbeard, but I have decent social skills and no l33tness. What am I?

11386.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:05 AM on May 4, 2011


My concern in that post was not so much that "neackbeard" (or "fanboy") is intrinsically insulting or not; clearly it depends on context.

My conern was that name-calling had replaced any discussion at all. When almost every sentance in some replies were full of insults, it got to be a bit much to take.

I appreciate that sometimes it takes people new to the site a while to get a feel of the place. But when bad behaviour from people who may not know better starts to leak into the replies of people who have been around for a while, I got frustrated. My apologies for mini-modding, but I was sick of that nonsense.
posted by bonehead at 8:05 AM on May 4, 2011


The moment I read this insulting sentence I KNEW it had to be from an Apple fanboy. They are the only ones insecure enough about their platform to insult others like this.

Nice form, solid effort, but a bit too obvious. I give it a 7/10.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:08 AM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I always thought a neckbeard was that part above the collar and below the hairline on the backs of guys' necks that grew when they'd gone too long without a haircut.
posted by slogger at 8:13 AM on May 4, 2011


To continue the 'boi' derail: snooker wunderkind Judd Trump (no, really) describes himself as an 'international playboi' in his Twitter bio. (Via.)

I'm starting to think 'boi' has a non-queer mainstream meaning that I'm unaware of. (Though in a gay club, Trump would certainly pass as a boi with that hairdo.)
posted by jack_mo at 8:34 AM on May 4, 2011


I'd never thought "neckbeard" was ever affectionate in the way that "greybeard" is. To my mind, calling someone a neckbeard is not respectful, even if the implication is that the person has some technical knowledge, because accompanying that is the idea that the technical knowledge has been acquired only at the expense of social skills and hygiene, and used in service of grating pedantry.

I'd seen it used here without a hint of disapproval from anyone else and assumed that it was an insult that was largely accepted by the community- similar to "mouthbreather" for the years it was used prior to its MetaTalk. Knowing that some people mean it affectionately actually changes my perception of Metafilter for the better.
posted by Jpfed at 8:37 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


When referring to Kyle Orton, it is ok.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:42 AM on May 4, 2011


Maybe we can all settle on eminence grease instead?
posted by everichon at 9:52 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are certain sites that I frequent (they exist!) that are staggeringly neckbeardy and people will argue the toss over extremely uninteresting minutae. Secretly I love that people are that passionate and well-read and I steal all of their knowledge and shit whilst tending to my own sub-chin hirsutidity* zone.

*I got this word from a language neckbeard so you know it real, yo.
posted by longbaugh at 10:50 AM on May 4, 2011


I'm starting to think 'boi' has a non-queer mainstream meaning that I'm unaware of

Perhaps in some evolved, layer-upon-layer Atwateresque way.

As far as its usage here goes, historically, Mac users have been associated with work in creative fields. Computing being a male-dominated culture, anything that smacks of artistic effort is unmasculine and therefore to be denigrated and dismissed as weak and effeminate — like Mac users, who are hence derided as "fanboys" or "fanbois" if they dare to admit a preference for non-standard computing tools.

To some extent, the language is a more widely, socially acceptable way of dismissing Mac users as "fags", which is harder and harder to do openly anywhere on the Internet, except on YouTube.

There is a homophobic element to calling someone a fag, or the functional equivalent, as much as there are non-homophobic aspects. Either way, it shines a light on how computing is a male-dominated culture.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:04 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Blazecock: Uhh, persecution complex much? People call you an Apple fanboy because you can't resist the urge to defend Apple and slam whatever you consider a competitor. (Often with leaps of logic that defy common sense.) That's what fanboy means. There's emacs fanboys and vim fanboys and Xbox fanboys and Sony fanboys and Windows fanboys and Apple fanboys and I'm sure plenty of comics fanboys I just don't know the culture well enough.

If anything I'd guess fanboi is trying to be a bit more gender neutral because the world is changing. Fanboyism used to be a very male thing, but the world's a-changing and there's a lot more female fanbois out there than there used to be.
posted by aspo at 11:22 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


So if you're not an Apple fan, you're a homophobe now. That is impressive.
posted by kafziel at 11:29 AM on May 4, 2011


Maybe we can all settle on eminence grease instead?

Absolutely not. Eminence grease is a put on.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:42 AM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd go more more with the "boy" angle in fanboy - that it's meant to dismiss the subject through their alleged immaturity. The "boi" part starts to wander into I don't know where and could be taken as crypto-homophobic but I'm not too sure how defensible that is.
posted by GuyZero at 11:42 AM on May 4, 2011


I'm starting to think 'boi' has a non-queer mainstream meaning that I'm unaware of

Blazecock Pileon: Perhaps in some evolved, layer-upon-layer Atwateresque way.


Or, having pondered it for a moment, in Avril Lavigne's 2002 megahit Sk8t3r Boi, or indeed Big Boi, one half of the massively popular duo OutKast, or the spelling of "boy" in the popular Internet phenomenon of lolcats. I suspect that these are likely to be more common reference points to your average Gizmodo commenter than the taxonomies of genderqueer youth and lesbian sexual subcultures.

Honestly, I wish it was getting increasingly hard to call people fags on the Internet, but it really isn't.

It's possible that in some cases "fanboy" is deliberately misspelled as a homophobic dog whistle, but I would suggest that those incidences are vanishingly rare, and there are far easier ways to be homophobic on the Internet, and Apple products have not been associated with creative types, particularly, for a long time - not least because Apple has aggressively courted the family and home office user. "Think different" was largely deprecated in 2002, and was replaced by the "switch" campaign, the message of which was that anyone could use a Mac, and the "Mac vs PC" spots, in which the Mac was young, attractive and masculine, but not particularly arty, and the PC stodgy, middle-aged and unfit. However, this may be going into too much depth. "fanboi" here is not, I suspect, much more of a coded homophobic attack than "fanboy" is a coded racist attack.

aspo: I think "fanboy" comes from comic book fandom, originally - in which it was used largely by fans as an othering term for people whose devotion or aversion to particular creators or works seemed overly fannish (obviously, a very personal distinction). In either spelling, it's certainly not a term exclusively applied to people who like Apple products - see this usage to describe an Android enthusiast. This article traces it to Star Trek conventions, but doesn't cite, and I don't know if I've seen a clear distinction of reclamatory "fanboy" and derogatory "fanboi" in the wild.

Guyzero: I'd go more more with the "boy" angle in fanboy

That's the point, isn't it? That fanboys are unhealthy in their liking for something, to the point of irrationality - much as neckbeards are apparently geeky or pedantic to the point of asociality or an inability to understand the UX demands of non-geeky people.

I think describing people who think Apple make the best products in their field, or who want Apple the company to do well as "fans" would be relatively uncontentious - I guess maybe it would cause offence if someone wanted to be seen as totally objective and felt their objectivity was being called into question, but not even reviewers claim to be completely objective these days. It's not a word I'd generally use, because it is likely to irritate without actually adding anything to the discussion.

Blazecock Pileon, you're a good test subject. You said:

Fact remains that Apple is beating everyone, including the neckbeards, with best-of-class hardware and software that just works, has been doing for since the first iPhone, and people who use it and develop for it know this fact. Sorry.

That's a pretty fulsome endorsement. Would you bridle at being described as a fan of Apple products, based on that?
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:33 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you disputing the fact that Apple is beating everyone? Oh wait, you're one of those that thinks it is because of marketing, aren't you?
posted by entropicamericana at 12:41 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is that question addressed to me, entropicamerican? Only I don't think I've at any point in this thread addressed the question of whether Apple is beating everyone. So, the answer to the question Are you disputing the fact that Apple is beating everyone? is no. This fact, and indeed its status as a fact, are not relevant to the conversation we are having.

I'm just asking, pursuant to the discussion about neckbeards and fanboys in this thread, whether guyzero is right to suggest that the problem is the "boy" in "fanboy", and that being called an "Apple fan", as I might be called a fan of the Mountain Goats or Scrivener, would be less emotionally charged, and thus lead to less counter-insult and emotional response.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:54 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Scrivener changed my life.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:03 PM on May 4, 2011


No, my point was I don't see how stating a fact makes somebody a fanboy.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:07 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, my point was I don't see how stating a fact makes somebody a fanboy.

And this fact, I assume, is: Apple is beating everyone.

So, first off, business isn't a zero-sum game and there can be more than one winner.

Apple is successful, yes, but are they "winning"? They hold something like less than 10% of the desktop PC market. Now, there are plenty of good reasons why this is so, but "winning" can mean a lot of things and I suspect you're using it to mean whatever Apple is doing. Because they're far from the most popular computer brand by sales volume and they sell the #2 desktop operating system. I use it everyday and love it, but being #2 is not usually considered "winning".

Apple has a huge market capitalization, yes, but by that logic WalMart and Exxon are also both "winning". I suspect most people do not discuss these three companies in the same breath.

Apple has a strong record of share price growth. Again, is this "winning"? You know who else has strong share price growth AND pays dividends? Potash Corp (POT). (yeah, yeah, ok, 2009)

Anyway, since we're discussing fanboys, one of their hallmarks is that they tend to beg the question, wherein their assumptions ("Apple is winning") drive their questions (" I don't see how stating a fact makes somebody a fanboy").

Would you bridle at being described as a fan of Apple products, based on that?

This is a real question and I don't know why it's such a big deal. Exxon is clearly doing as well as Apple is but rarely does anyone on metafilter start raving about their supply chain efficiencies or the improved environmental control procedures put into their refineries over the last 20 years.

it's clear that anyone who takes the time to type out how fantastic Apple is is a fan of the company. The question is: is that more or less pejorative than being called a fanboy?
posted by GuyZero at 1:24 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, my point was I don't see how stating a fact makes somebody a fanboy.


Nobody - at least nobody here - is making any such suggestion. To be honest, the bit you quoted is not the interesting part - it's just a factual assertion. The part about best-in-class hardware and software that just works is more interesting, because I am using this statement to support my precept that Blazecock Pileon likes Apple products. If that precept is incorrect - if he does not like Apple products - then the inquiry can go no further. If the precept is correct - if he does like Apple products - then the inquiry can continue.

The inquiry is whether it would be less offensive to be described as a "fan of Apple" than as an "Apple fanboy". That's it. Nobody is calling anyone a fanboy, and nobody is questioning the factual accuracy of the statement "Apple is beating everyone". In the context of this thread, to do so would be a derail.

So, to recap, the questions are:

Would you say that your feelings towards this entity and its products are overall positive or better than positive?
and, if the answer to that is "yes", then:
Would you find it offensive to be referred to as a fan of this entity and its products? Would you find it more or less offensive than being called a fanboy?

So, for example, in the case of the Mountain Goats or Scrivener, my answers to these questions would be 1) yes and 2) no; more offensive.

Jessamyn: I know! I mean, I might actually have to cop to being a Scrivener fanboy. I'm certainly an enormous fan - I would recommend it to other people as a writing tool, I'm happy to say how much I like Scrivener, I want Literature & Latte to do well because that way it will keep releasing updates, and so on.

Which is kind of relevant to the question I'm asking. Obviously, discussions around Literature & Latte tend not to have as much oomph as discussions around Apple, because people tend not to have very strongly held opinions about a small company making cross-platform writing software. But I think I would only find being called a fan(boy) of Literature and Latte problematic if it were strongly implied that this status made my opinions about Scrivener, or indeed about Avenir, invalid. and I think "you are a fan of Scrivener" is less likely, overall, to communicate that than "you are a Scrivener fanboy". But this may just be me...
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:33 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's possible that in some cases "fanboy" is deliberately misspelled as a homophobic dog whistle

It's not only possible, but I'd argue it happens as a direct consequence of computing culture and the constantly derisive tone taken towards Mac users since the mid-80s, which had/has a component to it related to sexual identity. Those roots may not be as obvious today, but the language is just as dismissive as it ever was.

Blazecock Pileon, you're a good test subject

I'm not your monkey. But as far as your question goes, realistically few use that kind of language, let alone intonation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:44 PM on May 4, 2011


Scrivener changed my life.

My wife is also a huge fan. Scrivener isn't the iPhone but will get similar reactions from writers out there. My wife specifically bought a Mac to run Scrivener. It's kind of crazy how huge it is with writers.
posted by GuyZero at 1:50 PM on May 4, 2011


Apple is beating everyone

At what? They're #2 in desktop/laptop OS, #2 in smartphone OS. They're #1 in tablets and #1 in MP3 players. That's pretty good, but it's not "beating everyone". They're around #8 in net profit, a measure by which Walmart is "beating" Apple (and AIG is destroying everyone).
posted by wildcrdj at 1:50 PM on May 4, 2011


constantly derisive tone taken towards Mac users since the mid-80s

The poor, poor, Mac users, having to spend all those decades consoled only by THE UTTER SUPERIORITY OF THEIR INTERFACES.
posted by Zed at 1:59 PM on May 4, 2011


Apple is beating everyone, among the slice of people that have enough disposable income to spend money on a Macintosh or iPhone; a slice that probably includes most MetaFilter users, although that's just a hunch.
posted by ofthestrait at 1:59 PM on May 4, 2011


wildcrdj: To put the comment in context, the discussion that was taken from was almost entirely by then centered around mobile devices - primarily smartphones but also tablets. So, "everyone" there might mean "rival producers of smartphones and tablets" - in which case, the iPhone 4 is the best-selling smartphone in the US at the moment (cite) and the iPad the best-selling tablet. I took "beating everyone" to mean more broadly "being bigger by market capitalization than every other listed company in the Technology sector". Not the only metric, but I think a reasonable one.

Blazecock Pileon: I have no experience of homophobic bullying of Mac users in the 80s, and I certainly don't want to deny any of your lived experience.

If you do not like the spelling "fanboi", I think it's absolutely your right to ask people not to use it, but I think it remains the case that it is very unlikely that this spelling comes from minority sexual subcultures rather than from the intentional and aggravating misspelling of words in the popular demotic. Still, it doesn't hurt to be polite.

I also didn't intend to suggest that you were a monkey, or indeed any kind of primate. You were just present in the thread. Let me try to ask the question again, in my simplified formulation:

Would you say that your feelings towards this entity and its products are overall positive or better than positive?
and, if the answer to that is "yes", then:
Would you find it offensive to be referred to as a fan of this entity and its products? Would you find it more or less offensive than being called a fanboy?
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:00 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guyzero My wife specifically bought a Mac to run Scrivener.

That seems perfectly sensible to me. Certainly, when i had to replace my ageing Powerbook 12" back in the day, the fact that there was no Scrivener for Windows at the time meant that I didn't really look for long at anything but Macs. It wasn't the only reason, but it was certainly a reason. I can imagine a syncing Scrivener mobile client seriously impacting my choice of mobile technology, as well.

I realise I'm derailing my own thread a bit, but it's a very happy, positive derail, at least.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:16 PM on May 4, 2011


Yeah it comes down to whether you look at iPhone vs specific Android phones or iOS vs Android. Android is beating iOS by quite a bit (in the link you provide, 50% vs 28%), but iPhone is the most popular single phone.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:18 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


My wife specifically bought a Mac to run Scrivener. It's kind of crazy how huge it is with writers.

Funny. I'd never heard of Scrivener (I use Celtx). I'll check it out! On Windows!

just quickly, cuz I don't want to derail, but can someone quickly explain what makes Scrivener so great? It is better for non-fiction/fiction? I tend to write in lots of notes, scenes, and character sketches. Celtx works "OK."
posted by mrgrimm at 2:21 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Scrivener changed my life.

Is it really that great? I worry I'd get drowned in the potential fiddliness of it, there are so many moving parts. I also don't really do complex writing projects. Mostly I've just been Markdowning my ass off in a basic text editor.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:54 PM on May 4, 2011


mrgrimm/middleclasstool I don't rightly know if it would be better for you than celtx - it's more dedicatedly "writerly" than celtx, I think: you don't get things like blocking diagrams in the templates. I appreciate the research section, and the binder/album metaphor, because I tend to magpie all sorts of stuff into "research", and it's useful to be able to see thumbnails of it and delete the extraneous stuff. Probably a lot of it is familiarity.

The existence of Scrivener for Windows now does mean my options are broader - although I don't think you can do what I would want to do, which is have the project files on a shared drive and edit the same file across multiple platforms. Because I can't do that, AFAIK, I haven't really used it on Windows much.

It's certainly not a full-featured text editor, and I tend to switch to CopyWrite or full-screen Pages if I just need to bang out a whole bunch of text, but Scrivener is still really useful for storing research, notes, chapters and the like.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:08 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


What the hell is Scriven—oh.

Oh.

Excuse me. I need a moment.
posted by Zozo at 3:33 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is it really that great?

It's great for big projects where you have to balance a ton of references and a bunch of little sections and where you want to keep track of word counts and do a bunch of other things. I wrote a 100K word book with it that I swear I would not have been able to do otherwise. The focus is on writing the damned stuff so you don't get hung up with formatting and other BS [you can export it to Word at the end] which was super important to me. I also really liked being able to color code stuff and I'm not someone who usually cares about that sort of thing.

Plus the forum over at Literature and Latte was really really helpful for n00b me in figuring stuff out. My one complaint is that it's tough to move a document back and forth among machines and you really can't keep a version stored on Dropbox easily and work on it from there.

The L&L people worked with me to figure out why the same document that I had on a thumb drive showed different word counts when I opened it on two different computers. It was a crazy tech thing that had to do with how to OSX system hyphenation settings were configured. They are top notch people and the product is worth the money they're asking for it and more.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:42 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, "fanboi," a homophobic term? I would never have thought so.

If anything, I'd tie its use to the genderqueer use of "boi" as a commentary on some people's deliberate pride in and reclamation of their marginality. So, perhaps used to evoke the silliness of the phenomenon in which what should be a minor difference (sexual or OS preference) is so strongly expressed as to become intrinsic to one's identity. --Desrcribing someone at the demonstrative avant-garde of fervent political identification. Of course, that does infer that people who use non-traditional terms to describe their sexuality or gender are doing so with political forethought. If that's not correct, I'd be glad to understnad better why.

Or, I could see "fanboi" being related to queerness in the sense of being "so in love with" apple/x-men/twilight you're "gay for apple," which I don't really have a problem with either, since, to me, that kind of construction problematizes sexual binarism more than it reifies it.

I am climing the Kinsey wrt apple these days myself. Do they keep those stores at 99 degrees or is it me?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:18 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am climing the Kinsey

wut?

No, seriously. Wat?
posted by GuyZero at 5:32 PM on May 4, 2011


Am I the only person who thinks that Nero kinda looks like Ringo Starr in that bust?
posted by epersonae at 5:34 PM on May 4, 2011


whoops, cliimbing.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:41 PM on May 4, 2011


My word! c-l-i-m-b-i-n-g.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:42 PM on May 4, 2011


I clammed your mother's Kinsey.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:49 PM on May 4, 2011


Oh, great! Now I need to buy a new Mac to replace my ancient iMac and Scrivener!
posted by ob1quixote at 5:56 PM on May 4, 2011


It's now also available (in beta, but stable) for Windows and Linux, if that helps.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:59 PM on May 4, 2011


I am still foggy on what "the Kinsey" is in this context. Like Sleater-Kinney?
posted by GuyZero at 5:59 PM on May 4, 2011


You know, I used Windows for years and years. Then I had to get a Mac for Final Cut, and now I use a macbook at work.

I think I like them just about the same. The OSs have pretty clearly borrowed all the best parts from each other, UX-wise, and Windows 64bit means you can use absurd amounts of RAM if you need it. Mac hardware is better then most PCs, but that is just about HP and company using cheap-ass parts.

So, I honestly don't care much either way anymore. Am I the only one on Earth?
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:03 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Mac "Finder" is still dumb as a butt though. Why can't I just paste in a freaking path?
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:04 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am still foggy on what "the Kinsey" is in this context.

Start with the Kinsey scale. Conceptual framework of the Kinsey scale as continuum of sexual attraction as figurative placeholder for more abstract attraction/valence to an object or concept or philosophy. Kinsey scale -> The Kinsey -> judo pivot of prior conversational threads about sexuality and computing and self-/other-/group-identity into new metaphorical self-identification of budding Apple fan. And stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:35 PM on May 4, 2011


Back to "neckbeard" for a second, the problem is that with any pseudo-insult like this, some people are going to consider it an actual insult and take offense at it. I take some degree of offense at this one, and think somewhat less of people who use it much. Even if I actually agree with the point they're using the word to make. I won't make a big deal about it, but it certainly informs my opinion of the person. Sure, it can be used playfully, just as "nerd" or "geek" or "pencil-necked weasel," can be, and if that's obvious, then I doubt anyone is going to find it obnoxious. But comments where it's repeatedly used as insult just grate on me, because it just gets used as a contemptuous label for anyone the poster happens to disagree with. If you think someone's full of shit, say so, but don't imply by sly little snarks that their opinions don't mean much because they have bad hair. I don't expect that anyone who uses the term that way will much care that I think less of them for it, but someone wondering about its use ought to be aware that some people view it this way.
posted by tyllwin at 8:52 PM on May 4, 2011


Deep in the heart of the gaming community, I've always seen the "fanboi" construction used specifically to be gender-neutral. (Not that the gaming community isn't full of raging puerile homophobia, but I've just never seen it in any obvious fashion with this phrase. And I am usually pretty sensitive to homophobia in all its subliterate incarnations.)

(Man oh man, am I cranky about that subject right now.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:53 PM on May 4, 2011


In case anyone's still interested in "neckbeard" etymology, the first apparent usage on Usenet that doesn't involve actual facial hair is this from 1/31/2002, not posted directly to the group but quoted there by the recipient of an angry email:

My fucking server DOES NOT have a god damned open relay. You neck beard unix asshole. Get my fucking server out of your database. IDIOT!

Is it possible that this guy spawned the whole meme? It seems to have been picked up in jest on the same group in this 2/03 thread. Then some more references that month, and it sort of takes off from there.

That's about as deep down the DejaNews rabbit hole as I'm willing to go this evening, but I'm prepared to tentatively credit "Vince" with "neckbeard."
posted by staggernation at 3:15 AM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


So...what the hell do we call the girls?

Fantastic?

As for neckbeards, context, as always, matters, but it's often dismissive. But people are dismissive even in support of things, like the guy who once said that a mouse with more than one button on it required "hand gymnastics" that were to hard for most people, and of course mom's and grandmothers and a second button would be the end of the world because it's too complicated. Well thanks for insulting the intelligence and apparent astonishing lack of dexterity of the common man and woman. How is that anyone uses a keyboard or a multi-touch interface then? God forbid people need to do a little learning of the interactive model they're engaging with. We all just knew how to tie our shoelaces right so we can't possibly click a second button or press two at the same time unless it's on a screen sort of thing.

So neckbeards could be lovingly dismissive as well.

Personally, I can't stand whiskers on the neck. Even if I don't shave my face in a futile attempt to look like a handsome, scruffy, athlete of some sort, I always shave my neck. I had thought that many people with full on beards also shave their necks but it's not really important to me.

I do find it interesting, though not surprising, that stereotypes exist long after something that was the domain of a small group of people, who are often the model for the stereotype, becomes the domain of thousands if not millions. There are way more programmers today than 15 years ago for example. I imagine they are a diverse lot.
posted by juiceCake at 4:18 AM on May 5, 2011


Why, I hear tell that Will Forte grew a neck beard once!
posted by not_on_display at 5:38 AM on May 5, 2011


The Bill James FPP remined me that Bill James is certainly the world's pre-eminent baseball neckbeard. He even seems to sport an actual (if nicely trimmed) neckbeard.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:06 AM on May 5, 2011


I realized last night that there's a neckbeard joke in Portal 2. Which might explain a recent uptick in usage.
posted by Zozo at 7:40 AM on May 5, 2011


Enlightening stuff. all this time I thought it was just poking fun at the Amish.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:35 AM on May 5, 2011


Having gone to college with many of them, I always took neckbeards to be the IT world equivalent of Comic Book Guy, with the beard called out specifically because they often seem to affect certain styles in an awkwardly half-assed way: the beard itself, which never gets any kind of grooming and so grows all the way down the neck with gross scraggly edges, or the fedora, which is worn not with a snappy suit or sports jacket but with sweatpants and a Lawnmower Man t-shirt, or the full-on medieval knight outfit worn to the renaissance faire with big old aviator sunglasses.

Also,
Painting someone with a broad brush stereotype
Am I the only person who read this as "beard brush stereotype?"
posted by usonian at 9:03 AM on May 5, 2011


How odd to see all this discussion of "boi".

I'd always understood it to indicate youthful-looking yet above age of consent men. As in, "I like the bois, but I don't touch the boys".

In my mindset, any man dressing to look younger than he is in order to somehow be more sexually appealing is called "mutton dressed as lamb". But then, I've had an eye for the 40 year olds since as long as I can remember, and really have never been able to find youth's beauty sexually interesting.
posted by hippybear at 9:51 AM on May 5, 2011


Yeah, the higher on the Kinsey scale you are (a 5 not a 3), the more homosexual you are. I am more gay for apple than I used to be. I am climbing the Kinsey scale, which means becoming less heterosexual. Which is kind of an interesting and absurd use of "to be gay," is the point.

Many altered versions of Hot For Teacher are cruising through my head now. I've got it bad, got it bad, got it bad. I'm gay for donuts.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:51 AM on May 5, 2011


I am torn whether being gay for donuts is homophobic and a horrible thing to say or possibly the truest thing I could ever say about myself.

Because I am also totally gay for donuts. Unless actual gay people would rather I knock it off.

In which case I have clinical mental illness for donuts. Unless that's also offensive.

So then I'd be crippled by my love for donuts. Although there isn't a category for that at the Paralympics. (though there should be). But that's probably not so cool.

At any rate, I would be willing to offend people in broad groups in the pursuit of donuts.
posted by GuyZero at 11:04 AM on May 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


including unix neck beards. Get the fuck out of my way if there's donuts, neck beards. Before I rm -rf your fat ass.
posted by GuyZero at 11:05 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unless actual gay people would rather I knock it off.

That would be genuinely appreciated.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:13 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I will resign myself to displaying my love for donuts via my waistline and blood pressure. And my patronage of donut stores.
posted by GuyZero at 1:22 PM on May 5, 2011


Can't you just say you really love donuts? I mean, I get what you're doing with your little thing there, but there are plenty of ways to say that you really love donuts without using terms which one group or another is going to find difficult. There are entire books of poetry devoted to exploring ways to fully describe one's mental state which don't resort to phrases such as "I'm totally gay for X".
posted by hippybear at 2:05 PM on May 5, 2011


There are entire books of poetry devoted to exploring ways to fully describe one's mental state which don't resort to phrases such as "I'm totally gay for X".

If you want to risk your mental health by reviewing my commenting history I think the record is pretty clear that I am not a poet.

But you're totally right. Me and my donuts are going to remain low on both the Kinsey and the Maslow.
posted by GuyZero at 2:24 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am honestly, literally stupid for donuts.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:40 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


How do you feel about Coco Puffs?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:41 PM on May 5, 2011


I am honestly, literally stupid for donuts.

It is difficult for me to assess whether the clear drop in cognitive capabilities that happens to me around donuts is more pronounced just before consumption or after consumptions. Am I stupid for donuts are am I stupid because of donuts?

Needless to say, the stupidity makes it hard to tell.
posted by GuyZero at 2:51 PM on May 5, 2011


Let's hedge our bets here and go with "stupid circa donuts".
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:53 PM on May 5, 2011


How do you feel about Coco Puffs?

Being cuckoo for cocoa puffs is kinda on the line actually, as that bird clearly has some unhealthy levels of obsession going on. I don't think he needs medication, but maybe a little talk therapy might help him work though why a mundane breakfast cereal seems so disproportionately important to him.

I mean, I don't think it's going to take much until he throws a trash can through the door of his local bodega in search of cocoa puffs off-hours.

And that leprechaun? Are there psychotropics in Lucky Charms these days? How many marbits are those kids eating that they're seeing little green men?
posted by GuyZero at 2:55 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Veni, Vidi, Viateadonutandgotstupidi
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:11 PM on May 5, 2011


I am jazzed for donuts, even if it offends devotees of The Quiet StormTM.

And that leprechaun? Are there psychotropics in Lucky Charms these days?

Worse.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:31 PM on May 5, 2011


> Can't you just say you really love donuts?

Well, if my intention were to convey a love of donuts, yeah. But my intention was to help the construction "gay for x" where x = "thing that is not 'your same sex'" become more absurd than ever, and where x has the same number of syllables as "teacher." So, no.

And the possible orifice thing you may be thinking of, well that was a problematic if colorful (in a juvenile way) side-effect. At first, my mental ditty was "gay for cortex" because I liked his comment. This remains the case, insofar as this construction can be parsed through. How I got from cortex to donuts is a bafflement, though. No idear.

I suppose it's also important (sigh) to reassert that the "gay for x" thing has long since morphed away from roots it may have had in the more value-charged "gay for pay" and become more about being crazy for something, not debased in some way for want of it.

There is a poetics to radical use of colloquialism, and invoking poetry as a countermanding force to that is outmoded, to say the least.

Anyway, I don't really think this kind of wordplay needs to abut serious identificatory and historical considerations of terms like gay, neckbeard, or fanboi, because it exists to counter to the mainstream progression of the usages. That's pretty much my MO there.

There's a contextual element here you can't discard, too. In saying I'm "gay for donuts" on MetaTalk within a dialogue about silly and possibly offensive phrases and their relative relationships to veritable homophobic terms, the stakes of an experimental utterance are hardly monumental. But I remain unconvinced as to why a particular, even if disenfranchised, sexuality's nameused to stand for a hyperbolically sexualized fancy should be in any way politically problematic. But hey, I'm all ears, if it's a matter of it being another way of waving privilege in the faces of the disenfranchised -- "I can call anything I want to 'gay' and yoooouuu caaan't because you are the object" I guess I kind of get that. I'm just gonna have to re-evaluate the privileges I get as "queer" not "gay."

I still kind of like it, just on the basis of conveying when something is SO erotically stimulating it completely creates a separate mode of desire for itself, and if it evokes a binary, well, all the sillier, since it breaks it at the same time. I guess "Donutosexual" would be more accurate, then, that's dorky sounding, and working against the popular colloquialism is part of the fun.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:54 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm gay for a plate of beans.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:56 PM on May 5, 2011


Is it me, or are all the variant definitions of "boi" provided so far really cool and aspirational?
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:19 PM on May 5, 2011


I suppose it's also important (sigh) to reassert that the "gay for x" thing has long since morphed away from roots it may have had in the more value-charged "gay for pay" and become more about being crazy for something, not debased in some way for want of it.

For some gay people, it is debasing to us. Replace the word "gay" or "queer" with "black" and I doubt that kind of joking around would fly here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:20 PM on May 5, 2011


Yeah, despite people saying that 'gay' no longer has any homophobic intent when used in the context 'gay for ...', I don't believe this is true. Every time I hear it, it startles me that someone could be so crass, intentionally or otherwise.
posted by dg at 6:31 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


"gay for x" makes me extremely uncomfortable precisely because I'm never quite clear on whether this is clever, young, inclusive language, or tone-deaf, faux-inclusive. As an old, straight, white dude, it is very hard for me to keep up. So I hear this phrase and I think, "Should I be using this?" Then I think, "Why am I making this about me, again?" Then I think, "Who else are you going to make it about?" Then I think, "Why are you talking to yourself in the second person? Christ, you're getting old! Hey! Slow down, everybody! Shit - did I forget to take my pills, again?!"

What were we talking about, again? Oh, yeah. "gay for x"

Please don't use "gay for x." It's ageist. Thank you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:44 PM on May 5, 2011


I haven't really thought about this usage, but I've certainly found it worrying when people use "gay" as a synonym for "stupid", and when they have insisted that it's fine, because it has nothing to do with gay people. Because it means many children get a solid decade of being taught that "gay" is a word for "stupid".

I get that particular cultures and allies get to approach terms in different ways, but I'm also aware that self-identifying as an ally is a very tempting thing to do - that whole argument about how when I say this, it isn't offensive because I am super non-racist/sexist/homophobic.

Which, to tie back, is a different kind of thing from calling people neckbeards for disagreeing about UX experience- I think UX experience is a far less visceral thing. But it does feel like an environment in which people could self-identify as neckbeards or fanboys/fanbois if they wanted, but were not identified as such by others, might be a less charged environment. Not that there is much chance of this happening, of course.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:48 PM on May 5, 2011


Well, I think "gay for" is pretty easy to understand, and here's an example of it used in The Advocate. If you take this as some kind of lambaste of Duchovny as a homophobe, or a use of "gay" to mean dumb, uh, kay.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:54 PM on May 5, 2011


Please don't use "gay for x." It's ageist.

Whenever I hear "gay for x" I think of the doctor in Idiocracy who accuses Joe of talking like a fag. Not fag in the sexual way, but as a strike against intellectualism or even just against basic, respectful discourse. So if you find yourself trying to rationalize the use of loaded language anywhere but YouTube or 4chan, ask yourself if you really want to sound like a character from Idiocracy, because nine times out of ten, that's exactly how you will come across as to others. If you want to be offensive out of complete disregard for people who are telling you it's a problem, knock yourself out. But you can't say no one warned you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:58 PM on May 5, 2011


Whenever I read YouTube comments, I find myself wondering how many of those people are actually members of the US Congress. But I stay completely away from 4chan. Those freaks are CIA.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:08 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, man. The irony. The argument you're making is that, for no reason you're elaboriating on, that it just sounds like bad stuff. It sounds like what the dumb, anti-intellectual people would say, invoking a satire of anti-intellectualism. Meanwhile, I'm tossing out softballs, trying to get to the bottom of why, it seems any ongoing colloquialization of "gay" is "debasing," (is it because it's a demonstration of discursive privilege?) but you're not responding to that or explaining anything, just repeating yourself, as though that it's what your gut says, as if it's truthy, or just a la "it's what plants crave." There are ways to position "going gay for" x, y, z, as otherizing, and I've approached them somewhat, but you're not engaging any of that argument, just making patronizing remarks like:

> So if you find yourself trying to rationalize the use of loaded language anywhere but YouTube or 4chan, ask yourself if you really want to sound like a character from Idiocracy, because nine times out of ten, that's exactly how you will come across as to others.

Well, I wouldn't say I'm at work rationalizing offensive language, of course. I know no better place to suss out how and why new terms may be taken as offensive than a forum such as this, and under those premises was the thread opened. I don't think we've exactly resolved "neckbeard," "fanboi" or, now "gay for" on those terms, though there's been a mosaic effect of meaning emerging, which is the best we hope for.

As for the threat of social judgement if one says naughty things, I'm not in the least bit concerned with being taken for a devolved mush-brained dreck-sucking idiocrat, not even 1 time out of 10. It's not that I can't be bothered to care risking it, it's that it's part of my general cultural interest. You can rest assured.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:23 PM on May 5, 2011


The argument you're making is that, for no reason you're elaboriating on, that it just sounds like bad stuff.

No, the argument I'm making is that it is disrespectful. It's like calling something "gay" when you really meant to say stupid, or something else. Instead of calling something stupid, or xyz, or whatever, you are choosing to use associative terminology that someone is trying to tell you is offensive.

you're not responding to that or explaining anything, just repeating yourself, as though that it's what your gut says, as if it's truthy

You're just deadset upon using wording that someone has explained to you is problematic, and when confronted on it, you're lashing out with accusations of truthiness instead of actually dealing with the consequences of your choice of words. Just replace "gay" with "black" or "Jew" or "retard" or some other loaded term and think on it a little, maybe, before using that kind of phrasing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:33 PM on May 5, 2011


Ambrosia Voyeur: do you understand the difference between saying, as Duchovny is, that he could understand having same-sex attraction for beautiful young men, such as the stars of the Twilight movies, and someone saying they're "gay for donuts" or whatever? (My apologies, GuyZero. This current conversation isn't a dig at your earlier comments.)

Anyway, there's a big difference. Maybe you don't quite get what that difference is... I'm not sure I could even explain it well.

I'll mull on this overnight and see if I can explain it well.

But please believe those of us who say that it's bothersome when we say it's bothersome. We live a life with enough daily denial of our basic humanity that we know something that carries within it a core of dehumanization, even if we can't clearly express what the problem is.

But give me a bit. My brain isn't incapable... just a bit slow processing my own insights sometimes.
posted by hippybear at 8:41 PM on May 5, 2011


Well, I think "gay for" is pretty easy to understand, and here's an example of it used in The Advocate.
Well, I think this is a different use and, in fact, a different phrase, given the context. In that example, it's being used to say something along the lines of 'well, I'm not generally sexually attracted to men, but I think those particular men are so sexually attractive that I could reconsider my stance with regard to them'. If anything, it's an acknowledgement that a heterosexual male understands the attraction of a particular male (or males) and that, despite being generally not attracted to men, there are particular men who could be an exception. Assuming you can take seriously anything David Duchovny says about such a subject, of course ;-)

To me, it seems OK to say 'that man is so attractive that I'd reconsider my default sexual orientation to get some of that' but it's definitely not OK to say 'I have an inappropriate and kind of yucky attraction for think x' and, by using the word 'gay' as a substitute for 'inappropriate and kind of yuck attraction', turning the word into a pejorative one.

There's also a gender bias at work here - nobody raises an eyebrow when a woman describes another woman as 'hot', but much of society would be extremely uncomfortable with a man describing another man in the same way. Neither is necessarily an indication that the speaker is particularly attracted to the person, rather an acknowledgement of the perceived attractiveness of the person. However, many observers would consider the comment by a male to be an indicator of sexual orientation without ascribing anything similar towards the female. This is symptom of the mainstream view of lesbians being acceptable (in fact, more likely to feature in male sexual fantasy) while gay men are somehow ‘nasty’ and for any man to consider another man attractive in any way to be somehow tainted. This leads to the pejorative use of ‘gay’ being ascribed almost exclusively to homosexual activity.
posted by dg at 8:51 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


See, I should make use of the new-fangled show new comments thing - I think I'm on the same page as hippybear on this.
posted by dg at 8:52 PM on May 5, 2011


Well, I think this is a different use and, in fact, a different phrase, given the context.

There definitely does seem like a semantic distinction to draw between the more specific "I'd go gay for [human or group of humans]" and the more general "I am gay for [human/group of humans/object/concept]", the former popping up as I've noticed mostly as a jovial expression of subversion of the speaker's established heterosexual identity and the latter being applied more generally to all sorts of expressions of affection for/obsession with various things.

I'm not sure there's much of a clear argument for one or the other being better, though. Both seem similarly complicated.

On the one hand, they're something I really only recall hearing from people who are on the sympathetic or at worst neutral/ignorant side of societal debates about homosexual rights and the problems of systemic heteronormativity—I don't hear "I'm gay for x" from the same people I would hear "don't be a fag" or "that's fuckin' gay", generally speaking. So I kind of get people being like, "uh, no, I really don't mean it in a bad way" as something other than a weak dodge.

But on the other hand, it's still appropriating a charged group label for figurative usage external to the politics of that charge; while I could say with confidence that when I say "I'm gay for roguelikes" I mean it harmlessly or as, if anything, a mockery of the repressive ideas of folks who actually disapprove of homosexuality, I'm still standing around as a heterosexual invoking charged language for something totally ancillary to that big complicated social issue and I can hardly say that people with a more direct personal stake in the debate are wrong to have a problem with that reappropriation.

Because, yeah, there are other ways that I can playfully assert my affection for this or that thing or person or whatever. I might intend "I'm gay for x" to be harmless, but I've got lots of other options that might actually be more harmless in practice, so I'm going to be inclined to hew toward those instead if I don't have a really good and specific reason to go with the one that might make other people uncomfortable.

"I'd go gay for x" is maybe harder to replace, but it's also a hell of a lot more specific so it's kind of a self-regulating problem. At the point where your conversational gambit is expressing that dude or dame is sexually or otherwise compelling such that you would figuratively or even literally consider subverting your established heterosexual preference to get with them, you're kind of stuck for a way to go there that doesn't involve invoking the notion of sexual preference, it feels like. But I dunno.

So on the one hand I think there's a pretty big situational distinction between that stuff and the tone of Idiocracy, where the tone is more along the lines of "hey, remember how people were casually homophobic back in the 20th century? Man, they still really, really fucking are in the future, and also stupider now". I don't think the intent of the average person saying they're gay for x or would go gay for y is anything like the intent being satirized in that film, which seems more in line with sending up the kind of stupid actively homophobic language/posturing of 14 year olds on Xbox Live.

On the other hand, I'm not in much of a position to say that, even with that distinction, one's totally awesome while the other's problematic. I figure it's reasonable to say "hey, all of that feels problematic to me as someone who is directly affected by that language".

And yet, on what is apparently a third hand, I think it is worth at least noting that distinction, that there's a difference between people appropriating something with a positive or sympathetic intent vs. people deploying something as a slur or otherwise with the intent of excluding or reducing gay people as a group. The generally, happily shifting social mores of younger people toward general acceptance of homosexuality as a normal thing deserving sympathy and defending is part of these shifts in idioms, and what makes a conversation like this more complicated than just "oh, man, sorry, I didn't know there were any gays in here" or whatever. Which, again, objecting is justified and I'm not talking about a get out of jail free card for people saying shit that you find hurtful, but there's got to be some value in parsing the distinction between clueless but positively-intended appropriation and Idiocracy-style casually aggressive homophobic language.

And I'll qualify all of the above by acknowledging that even in observations of the various usages, I've only got my own experiences and maybe it differs a lot for other people—maybe there are a bunch of people who throw around "i'm gay for x" or "i'd go gay for y" with the same tone of casual Xbox Live invective as "that's fuckin' gay" or "don't be a fag".

Also, for whatever reason this discussion reminded me of the whole thing a few years back with the girl who wore the Anderson Cooper gives me a boner t-shirt. Rather different vein of subversion of sexual expectations there, of course.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:07 PM on May 5, 2011


... I don't hear "I'm gay for x" from the same people I would hear "don't be a fag" or "that's fuckin' gay", generally speaking.
No, but I do hear 'you're gay for x' from that same group of people so maybe, again, where this comes from is important.

On reflection, I wonder if I'm missing something with my casual acceptance of the 'I'd turn gay for x person/people' in that the utterance itself could be seen to carry some level of derogatory attitude - by more or less saying 'I'd be prepared to subvert my otherwise "normal" sexual urges because, dude, that guy is just that hot' is the speaker acknowledging some level of 'wrongness' (in their mind) about the idea of being attracted to another male? I wonder if the ideal we should be striving for is that people are attracted to people and leave it at that? Hard to reconcile with our need to categorise people, but consistent with the accepted way to refer to someone as a 'person with a disability' rather than a 'disabled person' - putting the focus on the person rather than on the disability.

Note that I am not conflating sexual orientation with disability, just trying to draw parallels between groups of people who often get unfairly defined by a single characteristic.
posted by dg at 10:57 PM on May 5, 2011


Jesus Christ, I stopped reading the thread a few days ago but was reminded of it by a more recent Meta. I had a whole rant written but really, all I want to say is: comparing criticizing Apple to homophobia is incredibly offensive, disingenuous, and harmful to social justice and meaningful debate.
posted by kmz at 8:17 AM on May 6, 2011


Good thing we have straight men. How else would queer people know what is and isn't offensive to queer people?
posted by Zozo at 8:56 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best part of being a straight man is setting up punchlines.
posted by box at 9:24 AM on May 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


... I don't hear "I'm gay for x" from the same people I would hear "don't be a fag" or "that's fuckin' gay", generally speaking.

Of course not. There are degrees of insensitivity/offensiveness.

"I'm gay for X" implies (imo) an abnormal attraction to X, which is where the offense comes in, gay = other. It also implies that the speaker is not gay, a reaffirmation of the orientation hierarchy.

Also, saying "I'm gay for ..." sounds pretty gay.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:36 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, but I do hear 'you're gay for x' from that same group of people so maybe, again, where this comes from is important.

Absolutely, yeah. The whole spectrum of usage is weird and complicated.

"I'm gay for X" implies (imo) an abnormal attraction to X, which is where the offense comes in, gay = other. It also implies that the speaker is not gay, a reaffirmation of the orientation hierarchy.

Yeah, I totally get that read and I think that's a solid argument for why even people who don't intend it that way should think carefully about how it may sound. I can see the "I mean it non-pejoratively/supportively" angle from folks whose feeling is that it's "variation from my established sexual preference" rather than "variation from the correct sexual preference", but settling that for any given case is gonna involve some mind-reading, so not exactly great. And just by reckoning of sheer numbers, even if people were using "i'm hetero for" in an equivalent fashion in proportional numbers there'd be a pretty weirdly conspicuous imbalance in which sexual orientation was getting invoked more often.

And it's still, even with the best intent, essentially saying "gayness is the thing I'm gonna appropriate for my joke/riffing", to which I think "why? Why that?" is a pretty reasonable response. And on the one hand it's be great if the answer is eventually universally agreed upon as "because everybody is so on board with it being divorced from the old painful context of social ostracization and system injustice that it's literally without offense", but that's some idealized future and not where we are at this point.

Good thing we have straight men. How else would queer people know what is and isn't offensive to queer people?

Well, it's a tricky thing. On the one hand, I feel reticent about even jumping into a conversation about stuff that affects me less directly than people with different struggles and social contexts. On the other hand, this is a place where, more than anywhere on the already sort of introspection-inclined site that is Metafilter, we talk about what bothers people and why and how different folks coming from different perspectives arrive at the takes they have on all that.

I think it's worth talking about why something said with no intent of offense can cause offense after all; my best-case scenario personally is learning more about how other people think about this stuff and where they're coming from. And certainly I've gotten a better/clearer understanding for myself about how "i'm gay for x" can be perceived than I had before this thread ended up going in this direction.

I don't know if I'm one of the straight people you're sarcastically praising; I'm trying pretty hard to be explicit about not thinking I know what gay people, or straight people for that matter, should be think about any of this. I'm just trying to get at where my perceptions of these idioms and their social context meets up with others', mostly because I think there's a lot of value, especially in a community context like this, in talking such stuff out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:03 AM on May 6, 2011


"I'm gay for X" implies (imo) an abnormal attraction to X, which is where the offense comes in, gay = other. It also implies that the speaker is not gay, a reaffirmation of the orientation hierarchy.

Basically, if you want to say you really want a donut, or whatever, perhaps think about just saying it that way instead of relying on associations with tiresome and offensive stereotypes about gay people, even if you didn't mean any offense.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:23 AM on May 6, 2011


1. Register whatisandisntoffensivetoqueerpeople.com
2. ???????
3. ProfitApologize
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:24 AM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, at the risk of being presumptuous, I think I have a fairly simple way to restate some of the ideas I'm reading here that may help to distill the issue a bit. Sincere apologies if I'm wrong or if my voice is unwelcome:

"Gay for x" is presumptuous. It doesn't actually matter whether it's meant in a positive or negative manner. It's still presumptuous. The degree of offense may vary from situation to situation and user to user and audience to audience, but it will still be presumptuous.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:33 AM on May 6, 2011


I don't mean to be dense, but what does it presume? I'm fine with people finding it offensive because that's subjective but being "gay for donuts" presumes what about whom?
posted by GuyZero at 11:35 AM on May 6, 2011


Entitlement, I guess, is the best way I can think of to say it. It presumes entitlement to decide it's okay to appropriate someone else's signifier for a disinterested party's trivial purposes. You know me: I'm a jokester. I'm glib and love to toss language around. Sometimes I overstep my bounds, and you can bet that I hear about it when I do. I try to be as humble as I can when that happens because my fun is not more important than other people's feelings. Simple as that. I totally get why this feels like harmless, even sex-positive fun on the surface. But the simple fact is, it's not our (and by "our" I mean, obviously, non-gay personages') call to make. Twisting the "gay" signifier for our own purposes is presumptuous. I don't think that we are entitled to decide whether the usage is okay or not.

Just one man's opinion.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:52 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


quote:But I remain unconvinced as to why a particular, even if disenfranchised, sexuality's nameused to stand for a hyperbolically sexualized fancy should be in any way politically problematic.

The "problem" I think would come from that "hyperbolically sexualized fancy" part... It isn't just about "disenfranchisement", I am thinking the issue is the root of the disenfranchisement; a large part, and packaging of the parceled ability, or belief in a "right" to discriminate, in the US, and Canada anyway has traditionally been based around the ideas promulgated in psychological circles, and popular culture, and many other spaces I am likely missing, where it was written, "the gays" were actually, literally, "sick" with sex (you can see the remnants of this today with some evangelical people selling "gay cures" [there are also a host of related derogatory assertions, which I don't feel a need to simply repeat, but the associated connotations and derogatory suggestions are easily discoverable, and the thing I link just after goes into these issues]).

Look at the decades long purging of the Canadian civil services, the reasons were about how "gays" were targeted for being so unable to control their "sex", that they would "obviously" be prone to giving state secrets to "sexy" Russians in the Cold War who could blackmail them. Or something else ridiculous like that.

It's none of my business what you say, and I have no idea what it means, but I figured you asked, or suggested that there was a seeking of convincing, and I thought I had previously found a piece of arcane knowledge... and so here we are. Shave? I can shave after I write this.

Historical work has revealed that, contrary to popular mythology, Canadians were not spared the traumatic experience that Americans endured under the McCarthy campaigns. Part of this mythology is centred on the fact that, generally, Canadian national security campaigns were much more secretive than were those south of the border. Canadians were not exposed to the
same level of publicity and visibility that went along with the McCarthy hearings, the “sex pervert” investigations, and the State Department purges. Canadian state agencies were especially invested in keeping security issues cloaked from public view; however, this supposed veil of secrecy did not in any way reduce the impact these security campaigns had on people’s lives.
....
“So from 1958 on in Canada, basically, lesbians and gay men were constructed as being national-security risks, and therefore could be purged from our jobs, could be demoted to lower-level positions whereby we had no access to security-related information,” Kinsman said. “There were all sorts of things that went on. This affected tens of thousands of people. Thousands of people were purged. The RCMP, by ’67 and ’68, had a list of 8,000 suspected homosexuals in the Ottawa area.”

I have no titanium toothed dog in this fight, just wanted to add this for some context. That work is really interesting in the closing of the circle in terms of the new War on Terror, and the uses the same ideology has found in discrimination against Muslims. I am aware that someone loving donuts alot and expressing that awkwardly doesn't make them guilty of Canadian civil service purges... simply noting that the particular, disenfranchised group used has actually long historically been targeted on the very grounds that they possessed a "hyperbolically sexualized fancy".
posted by infinite intimation at 12:34 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good thing we have straight men. How else would queer people know what is and isn't offensive to queer people?
I don't see anyone here trying to tell 'queer people' what to think, just trying to better understand how certain language constructs impact on people.

I have been wondering if there are examples of a gay man saying something like 'I'd go straight for x' - if not, the one-sidedness of the usage further points to the basic offensiveness of the 'I'd go gay for x' statement. I'm not convinced, though, that it's offensive by it's nature, though, in the same way that 'I'm gay for x' (where x is an object rather than a person'. I can't see where making the second statement isn't offensive at least on some level, but the first depends a lot on the context and the reputation of the speaker.

Language is hard.
posted by dg at 2:30 PM on May 6, 2011


(To be clear, I was talking about the "fanboy" == f word thing. I actually agree with BP and others on the offensiveness of "gay for x".)
posted by kmz at 3:54 PM on May 6, 2011


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