Neckbeard, is this a word we need? December 23, 2014 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Neckbeard: (n) Derogatory term for slovenly nerdy people who have no sense of hygene or grooming. Often related to hobbies such as card gaming, video gaming, anime, et. al.

The word 'geek' and 'nerd' have pretty much been reclaimed. But when I was a kid, these were the taunts the preceded bullying (and were part of bullying).

Today, those words don't convey the same derogatory meaning as they did many years ago... But the word 'neckbeard' seems to be an attempt to reclaim the same derision and contempt towards 'geeks'/'nerds'. Do we need to use that word around here? Certainly misogynistic, racist, and homophobic slurs aren't encouraged/allowed around here (rightfully so, yay).

Can we stop using the word here, or does it serve a necessary purpose for communication that would otherwise would be lost?
posted by el io to Etiquette/Policy at 12:29 PM (423 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

How else are we supposed to describe Thoreau?
posted by Greg Nog at 12:39 PM on December 23, 2014 [37 favorites]


I don't like it, but I don't think people are using it to refer to geeks and nerds in general. Instead, it is a synecdoche used to represent certain behavior, in the way fedoras are used to represent smarmy pick-up artists. I wear a fedora now and then, and would rather it not be associated in this way, but I suppose I should be angry at the pick-up artists for ruining a lovely hat, not the people who noticed they have a propensity for wearing them and found it to be useful shorthand.

Neck-beards seems to refer to a specific culture of entitled, aggressive online male. And while my ancestors from Galway, who all had beards that looked like bibs of hair pouring out from their chin, might not have enjoyed being tarred with that brush, well, it's not their fault nor the beard's fault that this deplorable example of masculinity seems to favor a chinstrap.
posted by maxsparber at 12:41 PM on December 23, 2014 [69 favorites]


Suggest "Grognard".
posted by Artw at 12:55 PM on December 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


Previously.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:58 PM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


My hearing of that word is always that neckbeard refers to a specific jerky attitude, not a set of interests. The neckbeard is the person who is trying to one-up or be nerdier-than-thou about some nice nerdy hobby, but without any sense of joy or fun or perspective.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:58 PM on December 23, 2014 [37 favorites]


We probably should not use this word because it cannot be defined any more than "SWPL" can be.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:59 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


A neckbeard is a douchebag (ie an entitled, arrogant white male) who is specifically a skeptic and/or a gamer and/or in a fandom and/or is in, or thinks he is in, tech. Not All Skeptics or gamers or fans or techies are neckbeards any more than all white boys are douchebags. Ain't start none, ain't get none.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:00 PM on December 23, 2014 [21 favorites]


maxsparber: While this may be true, it can also be said for other slurs.

"Oh, I don't mean all women when I use that word, just certain behavior from some women."

"Oh, I don't mean all black people when I use that word, just certain types of black people whose behavior I find problematic"

"Oh, I know you are probably not homosexual, I was just using that word to describe something about you that I don't like."

On preview, it looks like this subject has been beanplated already. Maybe I'm just sensative because unless I shave it off I have hair on my neck (and I am a nerd/geek/etc, and have been bullied as a child with those words).
posted by el io at 1:02 PM on December 23, 2014 [18 favorites]


maxsparber: While this may be true, it can also be said for other slurs.

"Oh, I don't mean all women when I use that word, just certain behavior from some women."

"Oh, I don't mean all black people when I use that word, just certain types of black people whose behavior I find problematic"


Regardless of my opinion on this specific phrase, and respecting your right to be hurt by hearing it, but words are not transitive - you can't substitute one slur for another to prove a point. Context is necessary.
posted by Think_Long at 1:05 PM on December 23, 2014 [52 favorites]


Neckbeards are not women, black people, or homosexual people. I think it is very important in these discussions not to confuse the two. Entitled white men with beards are not a despised minority with an entire system built around repressing them.

Neckbeardism may not be very nice, but it is not racism, sexism, or homophobia.
posted by maxsparber at 1:06 PM on December 23, 2014 [171 favorites]


i do wish you'd find a way to make your point without comparing it to groups who have suffered far more than individual bullying. i understand this is a sensitive issue for you, but it's really not at all like misogyny, racism, or homophobia.
posted by nadawi at 1:06 PM on December 23, 2014 [38 favorites]


I mean, I guess they might be women, black people, or homosexual people, but they are not being made fun of for that.
posted by maxsparber at 1:06 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


> Neck-beards seems to refer to a specific culture of entitled, aggressive online male.

How could anyone think that? How could anyone think that?
posted by jfuller at 1:08 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Maybe I'm just sensative because unless I shave it off I have hair on my neck

a neckbeard isn't a beard that includes hair on the neck. a neckbeard is a beard that is ONLY comprised of hair on the neck, with a smooth chin and upper lip.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:08 PM on December 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


We could all stand to be a little kinder to each other, especially at this time of the year. I can't defend the use of neckbeard, but given everything else? It's not exactly on my priority list of things that need to be solved.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:09 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


el io, I also think, in the context of this site specifically, we're pretty much a space for nerds by nerds, aren't we? So I take that kind of term here as being intra-nerd-community talk.

I understand that people have their sensitivities as a result of life experiences, but I also think you can be pretty well assured that most of us are pushing up our glasses on our noses and hitching up our pants to our armpits around here. (No? Just me?)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:09 PM on December 23, 2014 [40 favorites]


No, they are being made fun of for having a beard on their neck. All of the character traits mentioned are just stereotypes which shouldn't be used. I work with a guy who has a neckbeard. He is very smart and knowledgeable. He is also very helpful and friendly. I like him.
posted by Roger Dodger at 1:09 PM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


well, maxsparber, you bring up a good point actually - women are often incapable of being neckbeards which is one of many reasons why it isn't a direct 1:1 with geek or nerd.
posted by nadawi at 1:09 PM on December 23, 2014


Weird, I always thought neckbeard was a word "hipsters" used to refer to someone who was not "hipster." Essentially a barbarian.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:12 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


women are often incapable of being neckbeards

Not women who are also dwarves in Middle Earth.
posted by maxsparber at 1:14 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


No, they are being made fun of for having a beard on their neck.

Former Helldump lurker here: An actual neckbeard is rarely the occasion for the word.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:14 PM on December 23, 2014 [32 favorites]


Per Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, the style of wearing a beard without mustache is known as a scethrog. Why scethrogs are popular among the sort of dreadful man who also often wears a fedora and a Dragonball Z shirt, I have no idea.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:19 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


No, they are being made fun of for having a beard on their neck.

I'm sorry this is arrant nonsense. 999 instances of 1000 "neckbeards" online have nothing to do with beards, and everything to do with entitled jerkish nerdish people often with an arrogant mien, chronic case of engineers disease, and probably libertarian leanings.

I have literally never seen the term referred to as disparaging someone's facial hair, and I'm genuinely astonished that anyone has.
posted by smoke at 1:20 PM on December 23, 2014 [61 favorites]


I've never used the term "neck beard" to refer to anyone who actually has hair on their neck, actually.

On preview: Jinx!
posted by chainsofreedom at 1:21 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


i do wish you'd find a way to make your point without comparing it to groups who have suffered far more than individual bullying. i understand this is a sensitive issue for you, but it's really not at all like misogyny, racism, or homophobia.

I understand your point. That being said, I'm given the impression that it's a slur (as was geek/nerd when I was a kid, getting my beatings)... Homophobic/racist/misogynistic slurs were the only immediate comparison points that jumped to my mind.

Maybe the urban dictionary link that I pointed to is very incorrect in its common usage... Maybe the metafilter context of the word is actually 'what it means', but taking the urban dictionary as a reference point, it certainly seems to be a derogatory word that isn't about being a smug asshole, but about making fun of nerds/geeks.

As I google around looking at other definitions, I don't find any that match the ones described in this thread.
posted by el io at 1:23 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


If we stop calling people neckbeards, how are the facebeards going to feel about their unintended demotion of stature?
posted by oceanjesse at 1:26 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Homophobic/racist/misogynistic slurs were the only immediate comparison points that jumped to my mind.

Why do you think that is?
posted by KathrynT at 1:26 PM on December 23, 2014 [15 favorites]


"slovenly nerdy people"
Men. Slovenly nerdy men. And yes, we need it.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:28 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've used it in my private life in two different ways. Fist as a disparaging term, as in Golden Eternity's definition, that indicates levels of the geek hierarchy, and second as shorthand to indicate Gamergate types, or pick up artist types, or before that the type of male nerd in general that excluded women and argued minor points to exhaustion. Those two circles overlap though, and I've found its useful to have a short hand for "yeah I play M:TG and watch Star Trek but I'm not one of those nerds about it, you know? I don't care if you don't like it."

However, in the last decade or so, with the changing definition of nerd and geek (football nerd, food geek, etc.) these types of identifiers have really stopped mattering to me and I've increasingly used 'asshole' or 'sexist asshole' or 'jerk that won't shut up at the party' instead of neckbeard.
posted by kittensofthenight at 1:28 PM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


Huh, that's a weird first definition, I never associated it with gamers. I've most often heard it in Open Source circles, as a way to put down jerky programmers who have a know-it-all attitude, where if something isn't working for you, it's your fault for not getting it right (not their programming/UI).

I don't think it has anything to do with the actual physical characteristics, but is more of a shortcut term to apply to entitled jerks in technology, the kind you might have seen with weird facial hair at one time. I don't ever hear it used as a blanket put-down of guys, only in specific instances of someone being a jerk.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:28 PM on December 23, 2014 [18 favorites]


Homophobic/racist/misogynistic slurs were the only immediate comparison points that jumped to my mind.

It's fine that the comparison jumped to your mind, totally understandable, but you should be careful about using it for rhetorical purposes - the juxtaposition totally breaks down when you examine it, and can come off as offensive to the marginalized groups that are being referenced.
posted by Think_Long at 1:30 PM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


And oddly, I've heard it used to describe behavior of guys being bullies in the IT world, not really used in any way to "bully" guys. When an IT jerk yells at you for being too stupid to join their WiFi and places blame on you and says you're too dumb, they're being a bully. Telling someone else a neckbeard yelled at you for not joining WiFi properly isn't a way to bully that guy.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:32 PM on December 23, 2014 [47 favorites]


As I google around looking at other definitions, I don't find any that match the ones described in this thread.

We're discussing its usage here, though, yeah?

Here's one that seems to refer to the jerky attitude described above. This one is explicitly about misogyny. So is this one. This one suggests that the "socially inept neckbeard" stereotype is actually cover for some really hostile behavior.

MetaFilter seems to use it idiosyncratically, at least as far as Urban Dictionary is concerned, but the above definitions in this thread are the way we frequently use them.
posted by maxsparber at 1:33 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


First they came for the neckbeards... and I was not a neckbeard so I did not object.
Then they came for the hipsters... and I was not a hipster so I did not object.
Then they came for all the white males... and I am a white male, but it doesn't bother me either, we totally deserve it, I surrender.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:35 PM on December 23, 2014 [63 favorites]


Yeah, this seems a bit odd to me, at least based on my understanding of neckbeardery (e.g., patronizing dinosaur engineer who is a jerk to the young women in the department but gets away with it because he has been with the company for so long and is the only person who can code in that language that the accounting system uses). It's like trying to reclaim "bully."

And don't get me started on the footlegs. Fucking footlegs.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:36 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I know people who wear fedoras who are totally reasonable, admittedly all pushing 50.
posted by Artw at 1:37 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I understand your point. That being said, I'm given the impression that it's a slur (as was geek/nerd when I was a kid, getting my beatings)... Homophobic/racist/misogynistic slurs were the only immediate comparison points that jumped to my mind.

not all slurs are created equal. motherfucker is a slur and it's absolutely nothing like the weight of slurs that are born out of the categories you mention. it's generally considered not the best move to pull out the card of "well what if it were about black people??" or whatever because the context is important. you can just leave your point as "i think neckbeard is a slur and it makes me uncomfortable because of associations with nerd/geek and how those words were part of my childhood bullying." you don't need to compare it to anything else.

having said that, i agree with mathowie - neckbeards are the bullies, not the bullied.
posted by nadawi at 1:37 PM on December 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


The aspect of the "neckbeard" term that makes me most unhappy is that it focuses negative attention on people for aspects of their personal appearance. If we need to call out aggro bigoted bullies (or whomever), let's do it by describing their behavior and not notional aspects of their physical appearance.

(Yes I know that white men are not the demographic who has the worst trouble with policing of their appearance/presentation, but it's crappy no matter who is doing it to whom.)
posted by dendrochronologizer at 1:39 PM on December 23, 2014 [26 favorites]


you can shave off a neckbeard

takes like five minutes

I've done it, nbd
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:42 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


The aspect of the "neckbeard" term that makes me most unhappy is that it focuses negative attention on people for aspects of their personal appearance.

I agree with this to some extent, although I think it's different than, saying, making fun of somebody for their nose or height or whatever. It's a bit like the fedora of the pick up artist, or, in my case, the red pants and chunky glasses of the hipster. It's an affectation, and those have always been fair game in a way that making fun of things people can't help isn't.
posted by maxsparber at 1:42 PM on December 23, 2014 [18 favorites]


The aspect of the "neckbeard" term that makes me most unhappy is that it focuses negative attention on people for aspects of their personal appearance.

Interesting. I always thought of it as mainly criticism of people who put little effort into their appearance. Honestly, "slovenly" in this respect seems less objectionable than "nerdy," as nerdiness usually indicates putting a ton of effort into something that maybe others don't think is "cool," and "hipster" usually indicates putting a lot of attention into fashion and appearance. I never realized that neckbeard referred to meanness or sexism.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:46 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Men. Slovenly nerdy men. And yes, we need it.

As a native speaker of American English, I find this to be a novel use of the word "need". We need a cure for cancer. We need eliminate violence. We don't "need" a slur.

Do we equally "need" a counterpart slur for slovenly nerdy women?
posted by Tanizaki at 1:46 PM on December 23, 2014 [18 favorites]


maxsparber: "It's an affectation, and those have always been fair game in a way that making fun of things people can't help isn't."

I've always understood the term to be making reference to immutable non-standard patterns of facial hair growth (beard grows thickly on neck, thinly on face/cheeks). YMMV of course.
posted by dendrochronologizer at 1:48 PM on December 23, 2014


Do we equally "need" a counterpart slur for slovenly nerdy women?

We had one, but it's meaning shifted into misogynistic territory, unsurprisingly.
posted by maxsparber at 1:50 PM on December 23, 2014 [19 favorites]


People claiming neckbeard only means sexist geeks are doing some revisionist word defining. There is no question that neckbeard often means "someone who is geekier than I think is acceptable," and that can be a range of behaviors.

Also it seems strange to me that people would defend stereotyping feels like that because geeks aren't a perfected class. Yes it's not being as much of an asshole as sometime being sexist or racist, but it's still being an asshole, and maybe it's worth questioning why you think it's OK to be an asshole after someone has explicitly asked you not to?
posted by aspo at 1:52 PM on December 23, 2014 [30 favorites]


"Sluttish" used to mean "slovenly."

I'm fine with Neckbeard. But I really do hate facial hair.
posted by Nevin at 1:52 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


so would it be better if there was some made-up nonsense word we could use to refer to malevolent geeks?
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:55 PM on December 23, 2014


I mainly saw it on Something Awful or on forums heavily influenced by Something Awful, so I think of it as a synonym for "goon" (second link is NSFW). I avoid it because it's kind of mean and should be used sparingly, but I don't think the mods should ban it from use as they ban racist and sexist slurs. I don't think I see it often enough here that I would consider it a problem, but this could be a false impression.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:56 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I actually don't think derogatory terms help discussion at all*, but that's an area of difference I have with... the world? that will never go away. If we can't/won't stop using "mouthbreather", there's no way we're going to stop using "neckbeard".

*Lots of insults are metaphorical or make reference to something else which is by implication contemptible. The fact that the insult literally describes certain people P that it does not actually intend to target is just how insulting language works, and however uncomfortable it makes P, that will never go away.
posted by Jpfed at 2:11 PM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


Given that a significant number of people in the thread have noted that in their experience it's a term used to identify (in a derogatory manner) some people based on who they are/present rather than what they do I don't think it matters at all if you personally haven't encountered that use of the term.

Given that a number of people disagree and that the etymology is both unclear and recent it would seem to follow that it's usage hasn't 'standardized' and is likely to mean different things in different contexts for some time. As such your usage of the word can not be counted on to communicate the carefully measured degree of distaste that you employed it for. It could be argued, then, that whatever you thought it useful for may represent neither a) a useful shorthand understood by all or b) a thought worth publishing.

Reading how some people didn't care for this term to be compared to other, more universally reviled, derogatory terms is enlightening. Either we care about how people feel, how we are perceived and how our thoughts are broadcast to the world or we don't. Cast as such so much of the thread above reads as hairsplitting on the topic of whether a term is offensive enough to require more careful thought in it's usage. Surely some global agreement that we could be more thoughtful & respectful and an acknowledgement that something new had been brought to our attention would be enough.
posted by mce at 2:14 PM on December 23, 2014 [19 favorites]


I am not a neckbeard, nor do I really know any. But in the last three years the term has definitely evolved here, on Reddit, in other places.

Let me put it thus: if "batwing" became some sort of slang for a woman who doesn't groom her nether regions because of her (ASSUMED) opinions, about X, Y or Z you can sure as hell bet that shit would get shut down here real fast like.

Primary sexual characteristics and the secondary semiotics thereof should not be fair game here (or anywhere in my opinion). Find another term to stereotype those people you despise.
posted by digitalprimate at 2:17 PM on December 23, 2014 [16 favorites]


Let me put it thus: if "batwing" became some sort of slang for a woman...

Please see the several discussions that have already happened in this thread about why "What if it was a term for a woman/non-white/non-cis-straight person?!?" might not be the tack you want to take.
posted by Etrigan at 2:23 PM on December 23, 2014 [25 favorites]


remember in that Reddit Obama AMA when Obama didn't hyphenate properly or something and somebody decided to correct him? And somebody said, "Don't correct the President, neckbeard."

I mean I'll remember that forever. Don't know know why. It just seemed so classic neckbeard. And I say this as a total grammar neckbeard-in-check
posted by angrycat at 2:25 PM on December 23, 2014 [42 favorites]


Know Your Meme
posted by chavenet at 2:26 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I read those discussions several times because I thought of posting a MeTa exactly like this one several times.

Either you stereotype people based on what they chose to do with their bodies or you find some less collaterally damaging shorthand to differentiate your friends from foes. It really is that simple.
posted by digitalprimate at 2:27 PM on December 23, 2014 [12 favorites]


I also think you can be pretty well assured that most of us are ... hitching up our pants to our armpits around here.

I would, but it would block the logo on my Atari t-shirt.

Seriously, I have one. Or did have one until it aquired too many holes from wearing it too much. My wife is not displeased.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:27 PM on December 23, 2014


Maybe I'm just sensative because unless I shave it off I have hair on my neck

Don't pretty much all guys who get facial hair have to shave their necks to some extent? I mean I thought it was pretty common for people to have to shave around the adam's apple area. I do.
posted by Hoopo at 2:27 PM on December 23, 2014


Please see the several discussions that have already happened in this thread about why "What if it was a term for a woman/non-white/non-cis-straight person?!?" might not be the tack you want to take.

I know! It's because some groups of people deserve insulting slurs more than others. No, not deserve..."need".
posted by Tanizaki at 2:32 PM on December 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


Oh, Tanizaki .. I just want to pinch your little cheeks, you scamp!
posted by dotgirl at 2:34 PM on December 23, 2014 [46 favorites]


Please see the several discussions that have already happened in this thread about why "What if it was a term for a woman/non-white/non-cis-straight person?!?" might not be the tack you want to take.

Funny you should mention that, because I've heard the opposite advice in regards to gender issues: Would it be a reasonable thing you are saying if you switched the genders around. This often results in analyzing that something is indeed misogynic... But sometimes it results in the opposite (I'm not going to say mysandry, but certainly an unreasonable and gendered position to take).
posted by el io at 2:34 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


I mean look, forensic aside, it's just become an unnecessarily inflammatory word, rhetorically speaking. Can we just abandon it already and find a better word that doesn't reinforce body image choices and issues?
posted by digitalprimate at 2:39 PM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


As a native speaker of American English, I find this to be a novel use of the word "need".

I do love it when one clause of a sentence like this invalidates the other.
posted by asterix at 2:40 PM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


And so as not to abuse the edit window, there are men who are "like that" for sure. I just think we need to divorce the body image thing from the word we use to describe the behavior. It seems most everyone here was ok with, "mansplaining" (which I still find vaguely offensive but the utility of which I will very grudgingly admit).
posted by digitalprimate at 2:41 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ugh
posted by hellojed at 2:42 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I would appreciate it if we could stop using "pushing 50" as a slur.
posted by drlith at 2:43 PM on December 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


I'm not aware of ever using that word. I'm not sure what situation would make me start. If I want to talk about jerky coders, I call them jerky coders. Etc.
posted by smackfu at 2:44 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I mean look, forensic aside, it's just become an unnecessarily inflammatory word, rhetorically speaking.

Has it really? I notice that no one in the first sixty comments on this thread -- including the person who posted it -- has actually said they feel denigrated or offended by it, except in the abstract. "Mansplaining" has people more willing to say that it actually hurts them.
posted by Etrigan at 2:46 PM on December 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


digitalprimate: I find 'manchild' and 'mansplaining' to be vaguely offensive as well, but I know that metafilter will not remove all gendered insults (towards men's offensive behavior), but I was hoping this one was one we could possibly stop using.
posted by el io at 2:47 PM on December 23, 2014 [10 favorites]


Anyways I always pictured Comic Book Guy when someone says neckbeard. There's definitely a "nerd" connotation there, but I agree with Lobstermitten about the lack of joy and perspective. You wouldn't call someone "neckbeard" just because they're into, like, Lord of the Rings or something. They would have to act like a total asshole while dropping sick LOTR knowledge on fools, taking it way too seriously.

It's not a word I think I ever used. It definitely has a hint of what el io is saying, but it goes a bit beyond just calling someone "nerd". I'm not going to go out of my way to avoid it, but since I don't already it's probably a non-issue at least for this guy.

Has this been happening a lot recently? I hadn't really noticed.
posted by Hoopo at 2:48 PM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


I don't think ARTW was using pushing 50 as a slur. I understood that to mean his friends age allowed them to wear fedoras without judgement. I mean most of of these slang terms stop really meaning anything after you escape the gravity well of youth culture, right? (I'm pushing 32, fwiw.)
posted by kittensofthenight at 2:48 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think flagging offensive uses of "neckbeard" as "offensive/sexism/racism" and then moving on might be the way to go.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 2:49 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


etrigan: I feel denigrated and offended by it, hence my post. I don't know what you mean by 'except in the abstract' though... One doesn't need to directly be called a slur to be offended by one.
posted by el io at 2:50 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't think Mansplaining is a slur. Its a description of a type of behavior that is perfectly representative of the patriarchy's influence on men. Knowing the term and using the term has done nothing but good in my life, helped me listen better and helped me tell myself to shut up. Its great.

Manchild is pretty offensive to me though, if only because I associate with flippant descriptions of developmentally disabled people.
posted by kittensofthenight at 2:51 PM on December 23, 2014


Can we stop using the word here, or does it serve a necessary purpose for communication that would otherwise would be lost?

I think we're not going to come to a consensus about whether to use the word if we can't even come to a consensus about who the word describes.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:53 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


The "pejorative" use of Fedora is a pretty apt analog. I wear a fedora. Almost every day. I have never ever not even once thought that someone was mocking my appearance when they said something about a fedora wearer online. This is because I am so very much not what they are talking about that it would be silly for me to feel slighted. Same thing with neckbeard. If you have a neckbeard, and are not A Neckbeard, you can feel free not to take it as a personal slight.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:54 PM on December 23, 2014 [26 favorites]


Whoa apparently we invented the term? Via that know your meme page.

Whilst surfing the north break of St. Augustine pier with me one day, Andrew ate shit, and somehow managed to get a baby eel stuck in his neck-hair. It wasn't until much later that evening that he discovered the little eel corpse, when we went to a party at a mutual friend's house. A drunk female party-goer playfully ran her fingers through Andrew's neck-beard, only to find a sticky, putrid little snake. She screamed, dropped her beer, and threw up all over the place, including on Andrew. He's been clean-shaven ever since.

Basically the term now means not just the facial hair choice but also the " sticky, putrid little snake" inside.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:59 PM on December 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


I don't use the term because I try to talk about specific behaviors when possible, though generalizations are sometimes necessary. As we see in our discussion here, though, different discourse communities can assign different meanings, both connotation and denotation, to a given generalized term, and the communicative effects of that difference is something to keep in mind when participating in a conversation.

The term doesn't align with perpetuating systemic inequalities that I usually use as a metric for saying whether the community as a whole should avoid using a term (previously). This isn't to say that there are no pragmatic costs and benefits to conversations in using the term; however, I think it will remain an individual decision whether to use the term and how to react to its use rather than a Metafilter-wide consensus to abandon it.
posted by audi alteram partem at 3:08 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also from that thread: Jessamyn likes neckbeards. 😰
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:09 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Huh I just got called a neckbeard last week by a dude I'd just met, in order to ask me about d&d. I was moderately offended - not least of which because I had a very nice beard that explicitly didn't cover my neck. But yeah, it's definitely derogatory. Although in my head, and seemingly only in my head, it's not so much an "entitled jerk" thing as "uber-nerd who doesn't understand social graces". I will have to update my mental definition.

It's not a great word, but it's certainly not at the level of any of the various gendered/racialized insults that have been mainly banished from the site. I vote 'meh'.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:13 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


that anecdote gets a little more palatable once one's brain realizes that consuming shit doesn't give rise to dead eels in one's beard
posted by angrycat at 3:14 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


"batwing"

omg, is this a real term? C-can... we use it? I love it.

I don't use this term (at least not often, or that I remember) and I don't "need" a slur, I guess, but I really think it has more to do with being a tremendous, typically white douche on the internet, and has nothing to do with an actual style beard that some decent people do in fact sport. I am not a super big fan of calling people out based on physical characteristics but that said... it is, like the fedora, a fashion choice. If you don't shave at all, you got a big ol' (or small) face/neck beard, so it's not really a slur against dudes who don't shave either, I guess.

I mean, I've been insulted and stereotyped based on my clothing and appearance before. To me, there is a big difference between "bra-burning feminist" or "dyke hairstyle" (meaning she doesn't wear a bra so she's strident and sloppy and masculine, or she has short hair so she's a butch lesbian and we all KNOW that's bad) and "look at those fucking hipster glasses." The latter isn't nice, the former two are trucking in being a shitty awful person.

When I had a pixie cut, I got so many rude and presumptuous comments about it that genuinely hurt because they were attacking my identity as a woman, calling me totally undesirable, &c. But furthermore... I read a hateful article online about how only women with daddy issues or who are otherwise disturbed cut their hair short, and how they're all self-destructive sluts. That really hurt! And it was awful, even though I knew the people saying/writing that stuff were the literal scum of the earth. And so, if someone says I dress like a hipster, or uses the term "neckbeard"... I just can't get that upset about it by comparison.

The difference is maybe that neckbeard is a synecdoche for truly bad behavior. People with no beard at all are often called neckbeards. Slurs, on the other hand, are about what you irrevocably are. The physical traces you can't shave off or dispose of. (I guess in my case I could grow my hair out and not get called an ugly piece of damaged shit but well.)
posted by stoneandstar at 3:16 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I know people who wear fedoras who are totally reasonable, admittedly all pushing 50.

A) I'm only 44, dammit, and I look damn sharp in my fedora.

B) Honestly, the ongoing grinding fedora-hate has gotten me down far enough that I'm shopping for a bowler or maybe a John Bull.

So, uh, yay? that the ongoing stereotyping of "fedora wearers" means this intersectionally-oriented more-SJW-than-not type feels like she has to alter her personal presentation to avoid dealing with the conflation of "fedora wearer" with "toxic PUA practitioners".

(My fedora was not cheap. It irritates me that at present I'd almost rather leave it in the hatbox than wear it. Fuck the peacocking PUAs, and I am hella annoyed at the "enlightened" types who lump fedoras in with the entire peacocking thing. So glad Oaklanders appreciate a good hat and random strangers tell me "you look good!" fairly regularly.)
posted by Lexica at 3:17 PM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


So, the only recent comment with the word neckbeard in it seems to be this one, and, uh...
I mainly use LaTeX for what documents I produce... which is it's own chamber of horrors, but a friend of mine just finished writing her dissertation using Word (which is the standard for her science discipline... shut up neckbeard, LaTeX is only great if you think debugging computer programs is fun) and, aside from being totally foreign and a pain, was full of totally show stopping bugs, like things... files, deleted in a puff of smoke, figures vanishing reappearing, changing format. it felt like beta software. writing your dissertation a big complicated document using MSWord is like playing russian roulette.
This is offensive? It's not even aimed at anyone in particular, and since the author of the comment says they use LaTeX themselves, at the very least, the author is calling themselves a neckbeard, and with the use of the <small> tags, it almost looks like they're channeling a hypothetical LaTeX critic's point of view.

I mean, yeah, most dudes have beards if they don't shave. Should we also declare a moratorium on calling people (not other members, of course) "dicks" or "pricks" because those words are based on euphemisms for the male organ? Certainly if you're calling another user a dick there's a problem, but just saying that, say, a public figure is a prick... does that seriously offend anyone because it's a reference to a sex organ?
posted by tonycpsu at 3:19 PM on December 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


but just saying that, say, a public figure is a prick... does that seriously offend anyone because it's a reference to a sex organ?

This can be tested empirically. Use references to all sorts of sex organs to refer to various public figures and see if some expressions draw more ire than others.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:27 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


So live my life as normal is what you're saying?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:29 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's a little late in the game, but I won't be able to sleep tonight without pointing out that beards are not primary sexual characteristics. Primary sexual characteristics are things like vaginas and testes, things which are needed to perform the relevant sex's role in reproduction. Beards are secondary sexual characteristics, which are things that signify sex without being biologically essential. (Secondary sexual characteristics are interesting because they often seem pretty pointless until you look at them in the context of sexual selection.)

Sorry for being so pedantic, but I had to get it off my chest. In my defense, I do think about natural and sexual selection a lot in my job so these technical distinctions matter to me.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:30 PM on December 23, 2014 [27 favorites]


This can be tested empirically. Use references to all sorts of sex organs to refer to various public figures and see if some expressions draw more ire than others.

I don't doubt that "pussy", "cunt", and friends would draw more ire, since those terms are typically considered far less acceptable in polite conversation than "dick" or "prick." Social norms: they exist!
posted by tonycpsu at 3:35 PM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


Another, related term that is useful: Rules-lawyering
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:36 PM on December 23, 2014 [22 favorites]


Beards are secondary sexual characteristics, which are things that signify sex without being biologically essential.

maybe not biologically essential for YOU
posted by Greg Nog at 3:40 PM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


I've been waiting for a reason to unleash the word "neckbeard" on a woman who deserves it, but it's never happened yet. I like the idea that it's gender neutral and appearance neutral.
posted by naju at 3:41 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think you need a bigger history of real social oppression before you can campaign to have a mean word no longer used against you. You know how you can still find people who say "how come *they* get to call us 'crackers', but we're not allowed to use the N-word?" Well, it's because people didn't use to get lynched for being crackers, dumbass. So, "n*****", "retard", "fag", "tranny"...I can understand people saying "cut it out with that shit".

And maybe like "n*****" and "queer", people in those categories reclaim the words for their own use, and the rest of us don't get to use them...it's so unfair! *sob*

I remain very unconvinced about "neckbeard" qualifying as one of these words.
posted by uosuaq at 3:41 PM on December 23, 2014 [20 favorites]


B) Honestly, the ongoing grinding fedora-hate has gotten me down far enough that I'm shopping for a bowler or maybe a John Bull.

I've only ever seen fedora-hate online. I wear mine in winter, albeit with a suit, and I generally receive positive responses.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:41 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


you guys...what if....what if "neckbeard" is why we need meninism
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:48 PM on December 23, 2014 [22 favorites]


I'm very much in agreement with the arguments that it's quite wrong to compare this particular thing with various bigoted -isms, and I'm also in agreement that it's not really that big of a deal and that the word is used to describe a pretty well-understood kind of annoying person (so it's about a combination of behavior and demographics).

That said, I think I agree with this:

"Either you stereotype people based on what they chose to do with their bodies or you find some less collaterally damaging shorthand to differentiate your friends from foes. It really is that simple."

It seems to me that using someone's appearance as the distinguishing identifier for a certain kind of behavior or personality that is rightly objectionable is still very problematic. For numerous reasons. Surely this is somewhat obvious to most people? Seems like something we should avoid.

Given that the stakes are pretty low here, I think that this particular case is really a personal preference (whether it's best avoided or not for these reasons) and not something that the community needs to pass judgement about. But the general point is a pretty good one.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:50 PM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


Can we switch neckbeard to necklawyer? I like the idea that since what we're insulting is that sort of factoid rules-obsessed things must be perfectly equivalent I am better than you type, that we're basically saying that they're wearing a lawyer as a fashion scarf.
posted by FritoKAL at 3:57 PM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


It seems that no matter how many of these threads we have, the old canard "but if you swapped x for women/black people/guy people it would be awful, so this is just as bad!" will always be trotted out by some fresh new user.

And Tanizaki.
posted by ominous_paws at 4:00 PM on December 23, 2014 [41 favorites]


Just throwing my 2 cents in, for what it's worth: I never found the term "neckbeard" particularly objectionable or even thought about it much... Until I saw its female counterpart "legbeard" being mean-spiritedly thrown around on another discussion site. (you can probably guess which one)

I'm totally on board with the fact that people have reasonable objections to lumping all insults/slurs/pejoratives into one bucket, as if they were equally severe. I'm not saying anyone has to do that. For me personally, in this case, I spent about 3 minutes trying to justify to myself why I had such a stronger negative reaction to one term than the other. Then I realized I was basically searching for a rationalization, and resolved to take the simpler solution of excising both terms from my personal lexicon.

YMMV.
posted by teraflop at 4:04 PM on December 23, 2014 [14 favorites]


Same thing with neckbeard. If you have a neckbeard, and are not A Neckbeard, you can feel free not to take it as a personal slight.

Wrong.

It's pretty much used to bodyshame people and doing so while objecting to behaviour just reinforces that bodyshame; it's not much better than calling somebody a fat slag.

As somebody who does fall in straight in the middle of that image search, I'd rather not have people use it: object to behaviour, not physical traits if you need to scold somebody.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:10 PM on December 23, 2014 [21 favorites]


Just never to a Google image search on "Fedorah Katana".
posted by Artw at 4:13 PM on December 23, 2014


In general I find that in the past ten-twenty years or so as geekish and nerdish passtimes have become mainstream (or rather, have finally have been accepted as mainstream in the media; everybodym not just nerds, was into Star Wars after all) a lot of the signifiers of being a nerd have been detached from these pursuits but still retain their negative qualites.

So now we have the association of fedoras and other such nerd fashion choices (duster coats frex) with creeps an PUAs and such, neckbeards with awkward social graces and that old standby, the grossly overweight guy that can be used with every negative persona you'd care to mock.

It's sort of understandable that people latch unto those stereotypes even if not admirable, but it does hurt a lot of people who aren't creeps and just like fedoras or neckbeards or whatever.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:20 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't find the term objectionable, but I have no objection to stopping using it as it doesn't form part of my vocabulary.
posted by arcticseal at 4:21 PM on December 23, 2014


I've never understood objections to "mansplaining". It's a gendered term because it's a gendered behavior.
posted by brundlefly at 4:21 PM on December 23, 2014 [24 favorites]


Yeah, I actually hate this word.

Words that use people's appearance to Say Something about Those People are not cool, IMO.
posted by wintersweet at 4:25 PM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


I had already stopped using neckbeard the last time someone said it hurt their feelings, if it helps. It's mean about a characteristic that doesn't have anything to do with the behavior of the kind of person who is usually intended to be insulted by the term.

But I'm not giving up mansplaining, because nothing describes that phenomenon even a tenth as well as it does.
posted by winna at 4:28 PM on December 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


I've never understood objections to "mansplaining".

I think it probably has more to do with when it is used in a particular instance than the term itself
posted by Hoopo at 4:30 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Mansplaining (and 'splaining in general) is alright because that does describe a behaviour where you have a member of a more privileged group explaining why somebody's less privileged experience is invalid.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:45 PM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think you need a bigger history of real social oppression before you can campaign to have a mean word no longer used against you. You know how you can still find people who say "how come *they* get to call us 'crackers', but we're not allowed to use the N-word?" Well, it's because people didn't use to get lynched for being crackers, dumbass. So, "n*****", "retard", "fag", "tranny"...I can understand people saying "cut it out with that shit".

I think no name calling by anyone is generally a pretty good idea. When we get to the point where we are spilling a lot of ink over who can call names and who cannot, while pivoting the discussion on a literary nuance that some people get and some people won't, it makes a lot of sense (for me, anyway) to have a life rule to speak about people without name-calling, whether in the specific or the abstract. I believe it is much more effective in the long run, it gets away from bickering about who actually has a right to call other people not nice things (that argument seems so weird to me), and it sets a better example for people who don't get the nuanced difference between synecdoche and things that seem closely similar. Some of those people will inevitably and predictably interpret sanctioned forms of name calling as a justification for worse sorts of treatment of others. In a way, it's like not using colorful language in front of my children. I'm not against some forms of swearing, but I don't trust my youngest ones to understand appropriate timing and context.

Some see name calling, whether to individuals or abstract groups, as sometimes having a positive social good when wielded correctly. I think more and more these days that it nets us a social negative overall. I'm increasingly more persuaded by people who decide to convey their thoughts in less shaming and condescending tones, even if it means taking the long way around language-wise.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:47 PM on December 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


'Hoom, hm, hoom. Room tum, room tum, roomty toom tum, my friend Fangorn was discussing similar name-calling at last weekend's Entmoot.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:06 PM on December 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


Regarding 'mansplaining': I've come to recognize the utility of the term in some situations (although I think it is overused in the blue), 'manchild' is a bit more problematic to me. Gendered insults as a whole are something I find difficult to defend. I'm amused/saddened that some people seem to have the position 'how DARE you compare gendered insults to men to gendered insults to women, it's insulting to ever make such comparisons'.

No, actually, either gendered insults are problematic, or they're not problematic. To have a different position is to engage in hypocrisy.
posted by el io at 5:12 PM on December 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


No, actually, either gendered insults are problematic, or they're not problematic.

No, actually, that's not the case.
posted by Etrigan at 5:13 PM on December 23, 2014 [35 favorites]


Okay, that was flip. But here's the thing: insisting that Things That Apply To Gender A must also therefore be Things That Apply To Gender B But In Reverse ignores the entire history of gender relations and the whole point of feminism. It really isn't about putting a level on some imaginary teeter-totter where Men have been Up and Women have been Down, but now the bubble says they're Equal! Yay!
posted by Etrigan at 5:18 PM on December 23, 2014 [43 favorites]


Ambiguous insults (like "neckbeard") hit more than just their intended targets, and people who are already feeling uncomfortable with themselves or the group will be hit the hardest.

It's not a phrase that I'd thought much about in the past, but on reflection I can see why it would bother people.

FWIW, (as a woman) I think gendered insults of all kinds are distasteful, and I would feel like a hypocritical jerk using slurs that target men specifically. Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You, I figure, even if your circumstances are not exactly symmetrical.
posted by Kilter at 5:20 PM on December 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm perfectly ok with someone calling a thought I hold as hypocritical if it means I treat words directed at people in a group enduring thousands of years of oppression as different than words describing a group that was usually doing the oppressing.

It's interesting to hear reactions to "manchild", I usually only hear it used to describe an immature-acting adult dude, the kind of guys that are middle aged and maybe not married, no kids, seem to spend money on video games and hopped-up cars, things you'd literally think a teen would do if they had the means to afford it.

There was a discussion on twitter earlier today about how offensive "butthurt" is as a word, and I only have deeply negative and homophobic connotations of it, but lots of people only ever used it to refer to spanking and light hearted outrage over little things, which KnowYourMeme backs up, which was news to me.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:25 PM on December 23, 2014 [19 favorites]


there was a big butthurt fight here a few years back but i would much rather not find it and read it again.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:31 PM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


But here's the thing: insisting that Things That Apply To Gender A must also therefore be Things That Apply To Gender B But In Reverse ignores the entire history of gender relations and the whole point of feminism. It really isn't about putting a level on some imaginary teeter-totter where Men have been Up and Women have been Down, but now the bubble says they're Equal! Yay!

I'm seeing a lot of comments to the effect that "sexism is a real, asymmetrical thing, you can't just flip the genders around and pretend they're equivalent" (paraphrasing) which is totally understandable. But people seem to be saying that, and meaning "it doesn't matter what similarities you point out between these two words, because any such comparisons are inherently meaningless because the context is different." There's a big, big gap there.

I understand that people use shorthand because they get tired of explaining the same things over and over again. If I'm the one being clueless because there's some 101-level explanation of this kind of argument that I'm missing, then I apologize and I would (truly, sincerely) appreciate a pointer.
posted by teraflop at 5:33 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ok and this has nothing to do with the insult but Yo seriously for real nobody should have that beard. That's an unholy beard. I don't think you are necessarily a troll just because you have that beard but that beard is definitely trolling you.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:45 PM on December 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


"Mansplaining" has people more willing to say that it actually hurts them.

It hurts everyone, you insensitive jowl'stache
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:49 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is weird. I always assumed neckbeard referred to older Berkeley style geeks with large beards and birkenstocks. Apparently I've been under-outraged all this time.

"Mansplaining" is annoying for same reason that saying a woman must be on the rag is. It's a lazy way to dismiss someone's opinion based on a gender stereotype that may or may not apply.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:04 PM on December 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


Neckbeard has me a little butthurt.

Sorry.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:04 PM on December 23, 2014


"Mansplaining" is annoying for same reason that saying a woman must be on the rag is. It's a lazy way to dismiss someone's opinion based on a gender stereotype that may or may not apply.

This is not, nor has it EVER been, what mansplaining means.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:06 PM on December 23, 2014 [76 favorites]


Poor hygiene or unappealing facial hair is the result of an individual's choices rather than identity. Neckbeards are considered unfashionable (and, as mentioned in the first comment here, have been considered so for centuries), and poor hygiene is never in favor.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:09 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yes, explain to us what mansplaining means, go on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:10 PM on December 23, 2014 [23 favorites]


(And there's no amount of legislation or hand-wringing that will make derision go away. We will always deride someone for something. Neckbeards and poor hygiene seem like a poor choice of hills upon which to expire.)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:10 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yes, explain to us what mansplaining means, go on.

it's a trap
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:20 PM on December 23, 2014 [27 favorites]


Poor hygiene or unappealing facial hair is the result of an individual's choices rather than identity.

It turns out deriding people is also a choice.
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:26 PM on December 23, 2014 [19 favorites]


And Tanizaki.

For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall. There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS
posted by Tanizaki at 6:29 PM on December 23, 2014


Gold star for Sententious Pronouncement, category three.
posted by Wolof at 6:32 PM on December 23, 2014 [28 favorites]


I too am a little confused as to why people are feeling like they are collateral damage of this epithet here. Surely if you have a neckbeard and are self-conscious about it, you could just shave it off? I mean I have a neckbeard too, if I don't shave my neck.

I'm not trying to suggest that the insult doesn't hurt unintended people, because we have people here in this thread who are saying that they feel hurt in that way. I'm just confused as to why people choose to have neckbeards if they find it humiliating. Nobody is forcing anyone to maintain a neckbeard, are they?

Anyway, I would suggest shaving that thing. Nobody looks good with a neckbeard. It's fine if your facial hair comes down under your jaw some, but there should be at least as much up on your cheeks. If it's mostly or entirely below the jawline, it's not doing you any favors. Fortunately there's a very simple solution.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:02 PM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


Hear, hear.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:14 PM on December 23, 2014


Surely if you have a neckbeard and are self-conscious about it, you could just shave it off?

On the offchance you're being serious, no. Even if you shave it off, you will have been a neckbeard. You can't ever stop being someone who has been a neckbeard. You will always have been someone who thought a beard on their neck wasn't gross. You might even still be a person who'd prefer to have a neckbeard.

For that matter, simply not having a neckbeard will not prevent people from calling you a neckbeard. If you look at the google image results Martin linked to earlier, many of the "neckbeards" aren't remotely neckbeards. They're just fat men with beards.

I'm just confused as to why people choose to have neckbeards if they find it humiliating.

Again on the offchance you're being serious, I would wager that some men keep neckbeards because the find the neckbeard less embarrassing and shaming than they would just showing everyone their multiple chins. They might be incorrect about how much camouflage they're providing, much like balding men with combovers, but the reasoning seems hardly mysterious or difficult to figure out.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:30 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't know that 'You don't like the insult? Change yourself so it no longer applies!' is a great premise to work from.

I have no problem with neckbeard, but I do always find these conversations interesting to read, especially for the insights in to where people draw their personal lines.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:31 PM on December 23, 2014 [16 favorites]


When I see the term (which I pretty much only see here), I think of the guys (and they were all guys) who worked in the campus computer lab when I was an undergrad. You'd ask them a basic question ("How do I save my thesis?") and their answer would combine appearing helpful with a solid dose of "You are an idiot" and a lot of detailed technical jargon that ensured that you both felt stupid and would be unable to follow their advice.

As far as I can tell from the alumni magazine, all of them are now gazillionaires, which hopefully means they can afford professional grooming even if they are still kind of jerks about people not knowing details.

From context I can tell that people use the term in a few different ways; it's not a word I'm likely to use any time soon so I've never tried to parse it more precisely than that.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:33 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Is it too late to state that I am emphatically not a neckbeard? I said I had a beard du collage, not that I was fucking stinky nerd, but now that you mention it, what would you do if you were staring down endless screens of assembly code, would you not want a human dimension to go with? That is the reason for infrequent bathing, because I need to be able to crane my bearded neck down and sideways and take a deep sniff to remind me of exactly whom I'm doing this for....stinky, hairy humans.
posted by telstar at 7:34 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


First they came for the neckbeards ...

... and I said nothing because "So long, neckbeard!" seemed cruel.

Tabled for debate: manchild vs. Faulknerian manchild.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:49 PM on December 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


Well, it's not a term that I personally use. I generally try to avoid insulting terminology that relies on stereotyping; if I want to convey that I think someone is a condescending, self-centered, misogynistic jackass with poor hygiene then I'm likely to say that instead. It's less likely to be misconstrued and it's a lot more forceful.

It may be true that a neckbeard is never in good taste, but then neither are derogatory epithets based on inaccurate stereotypes. "Neckbeard" may not be the worst slur in the dictionary, but it's still a slur and slurs are never cool.

Truly though, and I mean this only with love and as someone who indeed wore a neckbeard himself for several years: they never look good. It doesn't matter how many chins you are covering up with that thing, it's not a great look. Shave it, or grow it out into a full beard if you've got the facial hair for it, but don't wear a neckbeard. It's nothing to be embarrassed about if you have one, we've all made poor fashion choices in our lives, but I promise you'll look better without it. Just take a deep breath, grab your razor, and let it go.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:57 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I mean, picture Jabba the Hutt. Now, picture Jabba the Hutt with a neckbeard. See what I mean?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:00 PM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


Jessamyn likes neckbeards.

I like one particular sometimes-neckbeard wearer. And I don't use the term most of the time because it's a scattershot insult and there's too much collateral damage. It's imprecise but I will admit to sometimes laughing when other people use it.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:07 PM on December 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


On a good night, Mrs. Clav calls me treebeard.
I also spy a Schick product in my stocking.
posted by clavdivs at 8:27 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


What if you're just really lazy and haven't shaved for a week? Are you still a neckbeard? Or does it have to be, like, a conscious choice. Is neckbeard a state of mind?
posted by Justinian at 8:31 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mrs. Clav

I'm trying to figure out if this is pronounced like Mrs. Claus, or like Mrs. Clavicle.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:32 PM on December 23, 2014 [10 favorites]


When I first started hearing the term back in the day it was just gently mocking appearance. My image of it is some of my friends who played WoW or MtG. 100% of the time in my experience the typical neckbeard is also overweight. I think it developed over time into being associated with aggressive, asshole behavior. At first it could either be lovable teddy bear or big asshole, either one was a neckbeard because they had a neckbeard.

So, I feel like using it as an insult is wrapped up in mocking a person for appearances and some amount of fat shaming. I think people who mock people for their appearance are behaving like assholes and I don't think you can sever this particular word from those roots. It's in the zeiggeist now and words mean what they mean, but I think people should personally make an effort to use a different word that is not linked to physical appearance.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:34 PM on December 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm ok with being folliclist.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 8:34 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Depends, Justinian. It's only a neckbeard qua neckbeard if it's a beard on your neck. Most adult men can grow one, but whether it happens automatically or whether you have to shave your cheeks to get one is genetically determined.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:38 PM on December 23, 2014


Whenever I hear the word "neckbeard", I think about the "Condescending Unix User" from Dilbert.

And much as I like to see MeFi get credit for spawning language, "neckbeard" was a pretty common piece of snark on Slashdot well prior to the 2004 thread linked above.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:41 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Thanks! For my inquiry I got; "hey fuzzy butt, check the cookie timer"

Mrs. Clav as in 'icle'
posted by clavdivs at 8:44 PM on December 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


Dilbert...deserves a jolly x-mas:
Muh-ha-ha.
posted by clavdivs at 8:45 PM on December 23, 2014


I think Taz kept the goat collar trophy on that one.

Happy holidays mefi
posted by clavdivs at 8:47 PM on December 23, 2014


the "Condescending Unix User" from Dilbert.

That's George R.R. Martin!
posted by Artw at 8:49 PM on December 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


Does neckbeard even mean anything now? With the ascendency of geek culture and tech, we live on a neckbeard planet now. The neckbeards are in charge and hold all the power.
posted by Nevin at 9:39 PM on December 23, 2014


Nevin: I think geeks like to think that geeks rule the world now... But in fact billionaires and the people who control the money do, as they always have. While there may be a few tech billionaires now, they do not in fact rule the world. They may largely rule the SF/Sillicon Valley area, but they sure as heck don't run NYC or the rest of the world.
posted by el io at 9:44 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I had a similar problem with the Belgae.
posted by clavdivs at 10:12 PM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


"It's in the zeiggeist now and words mean what they mean"

It get this image of Ziggy racing around in a zoot suit, index finger twirling, tripping on a semantic watch fob.
posted by clavdivs at 10:22 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, after I as usual noticed it after the edit window, I was like, "And besides, it's so easy to just make up entirely new words!"
posted by Drinky Die at 10:24 PM on December 23, 2014


The neckbeards are in charge and hold all the power.

This is so wrong it's making me cry. Have you ever met a sales department?
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:31 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Okay, that was flip. But here's the thing: insisting that Things That Apply To Gender A must also therefore be Things That Apply To Gender B But In Reverse ignores the entire history of gender relations and the whole point of feminism. It really isn't about putting a level on some imaginary teeter-totter where Men have been Up and Women have been Down, but now the bubble says they're Equal! Yay!.

Neckbeard is a mildly pejorative sexist generalisation.

Now you could say that sexist generalisations are bad in general, and you should avoid them even when only mildly pejorative. This is a robust position, since it relies on the powerful and true idea that we are all people, not just collections of qualities (gender, facial hair, sex organs, w/e) and should be treated as such, and that the failure to do so is a source of much evil in the world.

You can also reasonably say it's okay to use mildly pejorative sexist generalisations against men but not women on account of thousands of years of oppression. This is quite a bit less robust, because it amounts to 'it's okay if we do it'; there's no powerful idea behind it, it's just tactical tit-for-tat. But the thousands of years are real enough, so why not.

I see problems with holding both opinions at once, though.
posted by Sebmojo at 10:33 PM on December 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


Well, your use of zeitgeist is wrong.
And your pulling the beard about spelling. Just because you cannot spell it and use it in context does preclude fun word play.
posted by clavdivs at 10:38 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Apparently I've been under-outraged all this time

(sorry)
posted by JenMarie at 10:59 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Why? that was funny.

Wither it's ninny, neckbeard or other assorted neologisms, it's wrong to hurl that out. The key is to discuss it and come to consensus. Esp. about the actual viability of the Wilkenson blade (sic sp) as an effective scraping tool.
posted by clavdivs at 11:21 PM on December 23, 2014


Can we switch neckbeard to necklawyer? I like the idea that since what we're insulting is that sort of factoid rules-obsessed things must be perfectly equivalent I am better than you type, that we're basically saying that they're wearing a lawyer as a fashion scarf.
Yes. Yes, we can. This is a perfect way to describe the behaviour being pointed out.

The manual has been updated and replacement pages 343 - 344 posted to all users. please ensure you replace these pages in your copy when they arrive.
posted by dg at 11:26 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yes, explain to us what mansplaining means, go on

It's conversational lavaballing, basically.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:47 AM on December 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


So, kinda like passive-aggressive bulb-sifting?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:03 AM on December 24, 2014


No. Just, no. The thing I love about metafilter is it doesn't cater to this baloney.

When I think neckbeard, I think Amazing Atheist. Not aptly named, but I don't care if he feels discriminated against, and oppressed. He isn't, but I do not care if he feels that way. In fact, I wish it. Metafilter is fine when it comes to terms like mansplaining, neckbeard, and the like.
posted by JLovebomb at 1:05 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


So, I feel like using it as an insult is wrapped up in mocking a person for appearances and some amount of fat shaming. I think people who mock people for their appearance are behaving like assholes and I don't think you can sever this particular word from those roots. It's in the zeiggeist now and words mean what they mean, but I think people should personally make an effort to use a different word that is not linked to physical appearance.

This.

Put simply, it's an insult - an insult based on a person's appearance and an entire host of assumptions about that person's character based entirely on his outward appearance. It's akin to the "Wal-Mart shopper" meaning a sloppy, overweight woman - or man - but always sloppy and overweight, and lazy. Fact is, there are all sorts of people shopping at Wal-Mart and there are fat and sloppy people shopping in other stores. But shaming a person for being overweight and poorly dressed - or for having a beard on his neck but not the right kind of beard on his face or not in the right pattern on his face - mustache? yes or no? - is not "fashionable" and therefore makes the denigrating term "neckbeard" okay. Wrong - so wrong.

The thing that really stands out to me in this thread is that no two people have exactly the same impression about the meaning of the term. That speaks volumes, doesn't it? If Joe calls Pete a neckbeard and Jodie reads that and assumes it's because Pete is an arrogant jerk and borderline hostile when in fact Joe meant Pete looks unfashionable and messy with the hair on his neck, well, where does that take us? Then, when ten other people have read the same term applied to Pete and each has applied it to suit his/her own image - aack, what a mess. All over a word that's no more than a cheap insult.

It's so much easier to hand out a label than it is to accept one tossed our way. The other day I got into a bit of a dust-up with a woman in a store who accused me of being rude to her because I was "in a chair (wheelchair)." Hogwash - the chair had nothing to do with it, and that's what I told her. Another lady had walked through the store with a crying baby and this woman just couldn't keep from blabbing at the top of her lungs about what a poor mother that was because she should take that baby home and take care of it - only a lousy mother would keep shopping when the baby cries, etc. She just kept going on and on and I finally spoke up and told her to tone it down, that the last thing the poor woman needed was the criticism regarding her mothering skills from some stranger in the store. I got a short round of applause from other shoppers, but I didn't relish it - I just wanted her to lay off. But it was interesting to think that others might think I'm trying to get by with something because I'm in a wheelchair. Nope - this is just me, chair or no chair. And BTW, I'm fat, but I got that way after I lost my ability to walk and exercise; the same is true for many overweight people you see in wheelchairs or scooters.

Labels always carry judgment with them and judgment can only be applied when the person doing the judging thinks he's superior to the other. It's true for neckbeard just as it is for the more common, more inflammatory insults, the racist and sexist ones. But the bottom line is they're all disrespectful and disparaging and none of them are necessary, certainly none based on a person's appearance.
posted by aryma at 1:08 AM on December 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


Yes, I was in a shop too - I think I bought some coleslaw, but I can't quite be sure.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:59 AM on December 24, 2014


Can we switch neckbeard to necklawyer? I like the idea that since what we're insulting is that sort of factoid rules-obsessed things must be perfectly equivalent I am better than you type, that we're basically saying that they're wearing a lawyer as a fashion scarf.

I like this and I'd like to further propose the term "neckversary." Mostly because it reminds me of Ben Jonson.
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:21 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


My beloved Metatalk, step by tiny asinine well-meaning step, is edging lately after 14 long years towards being nearly unendurable for this miraculous poultry.

I mean, no, not really, I'm here for life. But. Still: fuck.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:23 AM on December 24, 2014 [24 favorites]


I came into this thread not taking it seriously, and, upon careful reflection, continue to not take it seriously.

It's just that there are so many more important things to think about than whether you're being oppressed for your facial hair. Seriously. Life isn't fair but you'll live. Trust.
posted by naju at 3:35 AM on December 24, 2014 [20 favorites]


I've found 'shitlord' working its way into my daily use.

My wife does not appreciate the direction our pillowtalk has taken.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:41 AM on December 24, 2014 [26 favorites]


Datapoint from me and I work with screechy teenagers. Neckbeard is used often and refers to those they used to sneer at as hipsters. But WTF do those little Holden Caulfields know?
posted by kinetic at 4:48 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


People around here have been using "Neckbeard" to refer to male members of a cultish compound just across the state line for a long time. I had to ask the first time it came up.

And sometimes I don't shave my neck for a couple of weeks because of ingrown hairs.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:58 AM on December 24, 2014


Aryma: whoa if you're using your wheelchair to stifle evil loud mommy-shamers then more power to you! But--Was it mean of you to speak up and tell her to quit being a jerk? Heck no. Maybe it hurt her feelings to be told the truth, but that's her problem not yours. Sometimes, to shut down rude buttheads, one must be direct and harsh. That's what the phrase neckbeard is for many here. I agree with the idea of fighting hate with love, but sometimes the love has to sting a little to wash the hate out of the cracks.

Seriously though big applause for speaking up--there is nothing more un-empathetic than complaining about crying babies in public as if everyone else is as cold as they are.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:07 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've always understood the power of "neckbeard" as an insult to come from the suggestion that the target is insufficiently masculine to grow a real beard.
posted by Pyry at 5:36 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


If they take away all our insults, whatever shall we do? Use words to make our point???
posted by smackfu at 5:49 AM on December 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Horace Greeley.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:15 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Tanizaki: Please see the several discussions that have already happened in this thread about why "What if it was a term for a woman/non-white/non-cis-straight person?!?" might not be the tack you want to take.

I know! It's because some groups of people deserve insulting slurs more than others. No, not deserve..."need".

BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

It seems like you feel it's very important to take what you would consider "the high road".

Consider that actually taking the high road is to worry more about how you conduct yourself, rather than the conduct of other people. A judicious, fair-minded person applies their standard of fairness to themselves not because they've made everyone else follow it too, but because that's how they think they should conduct themselves. If they meet someone who has a different standard, they can disagree, they can offer their viewpoint, and they can still conduct themselves in the manner they deem appropriate.

What someone taking the high road generally doesn't do is scream hyperventilating Orwellian absurdity into a conversation where people are talking about feeling marginalized.
posted by spaltavian at 6:48 AM on December 24, 2014 [26 favorites]


I insult people using words because my telepathy sucks. I do have a couple of handy gestures for when annoying people are out of earshot but that isn't much use on the internet and everyone just sniffs at emojis and ascii stuff.

The whole point of using an insulting word is to actually insult the person. Of course it's not very nice to be target of an insult because that's the whole point.

As for taking 'neckbeard' as being a literal insult about people with hairy necks, I'm all astonishment. I used to call the kind of person 'neckbeard' describes 'a computer bastard' but that's completely unacceptable nowadays because every bastard has a computer but not everyone who has a computer is a bastard (and I'm not talking about people born out of wedlock - just getting that out of the way now). If you're not a snotty, up yourself, I know everything about a subject and you don't so you suck type of person then you're not a neckbeard, regardless of whatever facial hair you choose to sport so it seems ridiculous to take umbrage with the term.

In any case, I think 'neckbeard' is such a bland insult, more like being called 'poo poo head' than any of those other lovely insults which get thrown around (I won't give examples, I'm sure everyone knows the really bad ones), and it boggles me that anyone could get so het up about it.
posted by h00py at 6:50 AM on December 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


Neckbeard has me a little butthurt.

Sorry, why exactly are you linking to my comment stating that there was a MeTa about the use of the term "butthurt"?
posted by poffin boffin at 7:00 AM on December 24, 2014


Crap. I tried linking to the actual meta.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:05 AM on December 24, 2014


YEAH that's what I was expecting when I clicked, I was so confused.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:24 AM on December 24, 2014


> I don't use the term most of the time because it's a scattershot insult and there's too much collateral damage.

Jessamyn nails it with precision. As usual.


> edging lately after 14 long years towards being nearly unendurable for this miraculous poultry.

I return again and again for the unintentional comedy. This thread--filled as it is with what can only be called neckbeardsplaining by all and sundry--case in point.
posted by jfuller at 7:30 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have never in my life even heard the word neckbeard.
posted by Aranquis at 7:31 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


sometimes I don't shave my neck for a couple of weeks because of ingrown hairs.

Do you exfoliate? I find the only thing that really works for me is to get in there with a loofah, one of the natural kind that are made from the dried-out skeleton of a primitive animal. I have to be consistent about doing it every day, but it's totally cleared up my ingrown neck hair problem. And, bonus! If I use it on my face as well, my visage is much smoother and healthier-looking overall.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:46 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I recently taught a class in a subfield of feminist cultural criticism, and the conversations, and a lot of the writing, was full of discussions of the bodies they were living in, how they got to them, how they felt about them, and usually also how they'd struggled against some form or another of shaming and stereotyping to find more self-acceptance and critical power in (the way they live) their bodies. Sort of around the edges of these conversations were me (a middle-aged male teacher who definitely uses "mansplaining" as one of several helpful self-insults to check how my own participation is going), and a couple of male students, really new to the material, who were trying hard and mostly keeping quiet. They would certainly self-describe as nerds, and at least one of them would probably have self-ironized with neckbeard. But I'd try never to describe them that way.

Neckbeard might be the last body-shaming term that I'm worried about, but I have to say I don't like it all that well.

That said, I've definitely heard it used, both in- and out- group, in ways that made me laugh...
posted by Mngo at 8:04 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Shaving with a single-blade razor and with the grain can help reduce ingrown hairs.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:09 AM on December 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


Tanizaki is right on this one. Get an actual double edge razor. ingrown hairs happen because the hair is cut below the skin. This shouldn't happen.

I have baby soft skin and coarse beard hair, and this cures it.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:24 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Gender-based epithets are inherently wrong.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:28 AM on December 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Is the person using it punching down? Bad. Punching up? Fine. Simple.
posted by eamondaly at 8:32 AM on December 24, 2014


Is the person using it punching down? Bad. Punching up? Fine. Simple.

I think the issue is that Neckbeard punches up and down at the same time.
posted by kittensofthenight at 8:35 AM on December 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Could someone femsplain to me why gender-swapping (in terms of "If this were being said about women, people would riot") is a 'canard'? I have hunted for an answer (including before this comment which I don't get because I don't see any such discussions?) and haven't been able to find an answer.
posted by waraw at 8:37 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


It is not always simple to say if someone is punching up or down. Imagine a person who has technical skills far and above those of their supervisor at work. Is it okay for them to be condescending towards that supervisor about something technical just because they are one notch below them in job title?
posted by soelo at 8:38 AM on December 24, 2014


When trying to find a common-ground definition, just remember:

'not all neckbeards are #gamergate, but all of #gamergate is neckbeards'
posted by komara at 8:45 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't really think of Gamergate as old enough to grow beards.
posted by Artw at 8:46 AM on December 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


Could someone femsplain

With an opening like that, I bet this guy will give good-faith explanations a fair hearing, and is not just looking for arguments to shoot down!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:47 AM on December 24, 2014 [30 favorites]


(including before this comment which I don't get because I don't see any such discussions?)

Besides this one or this one or this one or this one or this one?
posted by Etrigan at 8:49 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


"I don't really think of Gamergate as old enough to grow beards."

Well there we go. Proof that physical characteristics are not intrinsically tied to being a neckbeard.
posted by komara at 8:50 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, because those don't answer my question. Is the argument that insulting men is OK because misogyny, racism and homophobia?
posted by waraw at 8:53 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


And as for 'femsplain', it wasn't trying to signal impending bad faith, just the yin-yang of mansplain, forget it.
posted by waraw at 8:55 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


TBH if I want to insult GamerGaters I call them GamerGaters. "Neckbeard" is something they haven't earned.
posted by Artw at 8:56 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, because those don't answer my question.

Ah, but you said "I don't see any such discussions", not "those discussions don't explain why gender-swapping is a canard." Rustic Etruscan appears to be right -- you do not seem to be engaging in a good-faith discussion of this topic. Good day to you, sir.
posted by Etrigan at 9:01 AM on December 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Neckbeard punches up and down at the same time

Finally, we've found it: the quantum insult.
posted by spaltavian at 9:03 AM on December 24, 2014 [11 favorites]


I kinda think that the OP is really talking about more of a trigger warning type of situation than a slur. 'Fat white man with mediocre social skills' is not an oppressed class. But for some people schoolyard bullying was pretty traumatic and really fucked us up. Why bother dredging that up in an online discussion? Sure, that type of trauma isn't as serious as a lot of real systemic oppression, but its there.

Its kinda like the guy from Penny Arcade, right? He says some really offensive shit, people call him out, and suddenly he feels like he's back on the playground being bullied. Then he continues to be an asshole.... bad example.
posted by kittensofthenight at 9:06 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


'Fat white man with mediocre social skills' is not an oppressed class.

I would argue that fat is getting there.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:11 AM on December 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


And as for 'femsplain', it wasn't trying to signal impending bad faith, just the yin-yang of mansplain, forget it.

the yin of a thing that exists, the yang of a thing that does not
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:13 AM on December 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeah, ok. Enjoy your metafilter.
posted by waraw at 9:18 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I asked my college aged kids what they think of when they hear, "neck beard."

Answer: Lazy term for stereotype basement-dwelling WoW player.

Also volunteered that people prime to using this also use "legbeard" to refer to loud, amgry feminists, a term I had never heard before this thread.

So, both seem dismissive and Strawmanish. I have no problem not using them and it doesn't sound like I would enjoy being around the people who do, anyway.

Naju: I came into this thread not taking it seriously, and, upon careful reflection, continue to not take it seriously.

It's just that there are so many more important things to think about than whether you're being oppressed for your facial hair. Seriously. Life isn't fair but you'll live. Trust.


Seriously, can we not do the conversational equivalent of, "People in Africa are starving so shut up and eat your vegetables"? I guarantee everyone in this thread, including me, has been upset by something an outsider would consider trivial. We have also been upset by police brutality and the Isis murders. Holding more than two thoughts in your head at the same time is not onerous for most people.
posted by misha at 9:18 AM on December 24, 2014 [14 favorites]


So, is this the Christmas angst thread or will there be something more interesting to get riled up about tomorrow? Trying to plan my day...
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:22 AM on December 24, 2014


'Fat white man with mediocre social skills' is not an oppressed class.

I am not sure we can say this so unequivocally. Fat-shaming is a thing. People on the autism spectrum certainly face institutional challenges.

On preview: skipping a thread is always an option if this one isn't worth your time. So is not commenting in it.
posted by misha at 9:24 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Christmas Eve flameout!
posted by cjorgensen at 9:32 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is it okay for them to be condescending towards that supervisor about something technical just because they are one notch below them in job title?

Bad example, it is always okay to be condescending towards someone who calls in a Canon service tech because the networked printer's power cord was unplugged by the cleaning lady who needed to vacuum.

for example
posted by poffin boffin at 9:32 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Finally, we've found it: the quantum insult.

I would argue that fat is getting there.


Yeah that's what I was getting at.
For some lucky people (self included) schoolyard bullying is the worst trauma they've had to endure. That doesn't mean the feelings aren't real. If the term makes some of our members feel like shit, why bother with it? We don't do insults here, right?

On preview:
Misha, I completely agree.
I included that to make it clear that I wasn't comparing these types of insults to real slurs that target minorities.
posted by kittensofthenight at 9:39 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


The question posed in this MeTa is:
Can we stop using the word here, or does it serve a necessary purpose for communication that would otherwise would be lost?
I don't see anyone insisting that this is an important word that they must use or they'll feel silenced. There are some people (myself included) who've tried to explain why it doesn't rise to the level of some other words that people are trying to compare it to, but that's not by any means a declaration that the word is somehow important, or that a different word or phrase can't be substituted (out of respect to those who say they're offend by the word) to refer to an anonymous dickhead know-it-all computer nerd.

At the same time, a very small minority of people tune into MeTa on a regular basis, so absent an explicit appeal to change site policy (which doesn't seem to be in the cards), the best one can hope for here is to communicate that some people have feels about the use of the word, and that people who have seen this MeTa should consider using another one.

I think that goal has been accomplished. Has it been accomplished to the OP's satisfaction? What else is there to say before this devolves further?
posted by tonycpsu at 9:41 AM on December 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


I guarantee everyone in this thread, including me, has been upset by something an outsider would consider trivial.

Sure, but what's occurring here is someone asking, in a small slice of a global website, for others to not use the term.

Which isn't wrong, but at a certain point i do wish people would let these smaller insults go. There isn't a sudden surge in usage of the term, sooooo...yeah not sure what the problem is, other than someone is bothered by something.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:47 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the dull modly answer as far as there's any kind of policy side to this is basically two-fold:

1. This is not something that rises in context or frequency of use to the level of something we'd actually proscribe, to the degree that we even conditionally proscribe a few super highly charged slurs.

2. But it's nice when people can be decent to each other or absent third parties, and as far as that goes using an intentional insult less and instead explaining the motivating bad behavior more is probably the way to go most of the time, so it's worth thinking about language usage in that light when deciding for yourself how to navigate the rhetorical choices available to you.

Beyond that, folks talking about how they feel about a given usage is pretty normal metatalk stuff but also not something we're likely to see any firm consensus or group decision-making on, so folks should manage their expectations there accordingly.

All that aside, it is Christmas Eve and while no one is required to not get into it in Metatalk or elsewhere on the site it'd be kind of nice to not spend the day nursing a vague sense of doom for either myself or for the folks on shift after me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:48 AM on December 24, 2014 [12 favorites]


MetaTalk: Nursing a vague sense of doom.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:51 AM on December 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


Then there's the seasonal Neckbeard in a Fedora!
posted by sammyo at 9:55 AM on December 24, 2014


The Christmas Eve flameout has happened.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:57 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


is this the Christmas angst thread

Now I'm humming one of my favorite holiday songs:

Jolly little neckbeard
Lean your ear this way
Don't you tell a single soul
What I'm going to say.

Next up: the difference between "neckbeard" and "beardo."
posted by octobersurprise at 10:02 AM on December 24, 2014


Don't correct the president, neckbeard!
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:12 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Next up: the difference between "neckbeard" and "beardo.""

For me personally, one's an insult and the other is a compliment.
posted by komara at 10:29 AM on December 24, 2014


I'd be fine closing the thread.

I'm sure the mods have family things to attend to, big santa suits to climb into, cookies to bake, and the like.

Happy Holidays all!*.

*just doing my part in the war on Christmas.
posted by el io at 10:49 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Me, too. Follically-challenged tho I am, I aspire to true beardo-ness.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:50 AM on December 24, 2014


Surely if you have a neckbeard and are self-conscious about it, you could just shave it off? I mean I have a neckbeard too, if I don't shave my neck.

When I hear terms like "neckbeard", it reminds me of about ten years ago when people would refer to "hairy-legged feminists/lesbians/what have you". Body hair that doesn't bother anyone and is a personal choice of the person whose body it is, combined with shaming about not following gendered societal norms in shaving it off.

Beard grows naturally on the neck. It is also difficult for some people to shave every day - the skin reacts badly to it. People make choices based on that and personal preference, which is a totally valid thing to do.

We don't need to insult people's physical choices about the way their body grows things in order to talk about their behavior.
posted by corb at 10:53 AM on December 24, 2014 [11 favorites]


If I'm the one being clueless because there's some 101-level explanation of this kind of argument that I'm missing, then I apologize and I would (truly, sincerely) appreciate a pointer

In the spirit of Christmas, I am kindly providing a pointer to this 101-level explanation of Oppression Olympics.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 11:09 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


If we're going to talk about pejorative terms, let's talk about "bully". This word conveys nothing but utter contempt for the empathy-challenged.
posted by double block and bleed at 11:35 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


So wait- we're not making fun of the Amish now? Shit!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:40 AM on December 24, 2014




Hello Americans. Please keep your neckbeards. I'm still not too clear about what they are, but I'm reasonably sure we have no room for any. I've dropped our Mr. Farage a note and asked him to pop them on the end of his list of people we do not want.
posted by pipeski at 12:03 PM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Does anyone besides neckbeards say neckbeard?
posted by michaelh at 12:35 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Very zen.
posted by Grangousier at 12:36 PM on December 24, 2014


*checks iPhone App*

No, we're still making of the Amish.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:45 PM on December 24, 2014


Get thee out there, sir, and make of the Amish.
posted by Grangousier at 1:07 PM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I know people know this on a basic level, but I feel like a few people people might not have it in the front of their mind in this conversation. There are other ways to judge a word's appropriateness beyond, "Is this oppressive?" Don't try and shoehorn in oppression language when you are talking about a word that doesn't really impact an oppressed class. But at the same time, once we establish that the conversation isn't over. I think it's important to keep in mind some words can just be mean and hurtful on an individual level. Metafilter is a community and we talk to each other as individuals. For that reason, I think people should apply slightly higher standards when they talk here than they might otherwise in different venues.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:10 PM on December 24, 2014 [14 favorites]


I just use 'beardneck' and wait. If someone corrects me, they're fair game, right?
posted by mikurski at 1:32 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it's supposed to imply that the neckbeard's owner is not self-aware about how other's might interpret the owner's actions, when considering context, delivery, and whatnot. There's also an implication that out of multiple responses, the owner has chosen the simplest, laziest, and/or most personally-satisfying one because they do not consider other conversational participants worthy of more attention, engagement, and empathy.

It's not the neckbeard on the face that matters, it's the neckbeard on the heart.

Thus, I propose the alternative of heartbeard.
posted by halifix at 2:10 PM on December 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


Happy Holidays, fellow bean-platers!
posted by halifix at 2:12 PM on December 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


I have never heard 'neckbeard' on real life. Matter of fact, I think I've only heard it here.
posted by jonmc at 2:18 PM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Can we talk about pies now?
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 2:57 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Happy Christmas Eve/last day of Hannukkah, everyone!
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:03 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why talk about pies when you can talk about cobbler?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:12 PM on December 24, 2014


Because cobbler is gross!

CHRISTMAS FIGHT, COMMENCE!
posted by winna at 3:25 PM on December 24, 2014


*cobbles*
posted by jonmc at 4:21 PM on December 24, 2014


Because cobbler is gross!

And their children go barefoot!
posted by Zed at 4:53 PM on December 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


Again with the cobblerquibbling?
posted by uosuaq at 5:45 PM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Does anyone besides neckbeards say neckbeard?

"All neckbeards are Cretans" says Epimenides the neckbeard.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:47 PM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


No, the riddle is "Who shaves the neckbeard?"
posted by octobersurprise at 6:18 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also: I survived the holiday season!!

*gibbers*

/retail worker
posted by jonmc at 7:02 PM on December 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


you forget, jonmc, that returns happen friday

(also, i used to work xmas at a convenience store/gas station that was one of the few places open in town - THAT was insane)
posted by pyramid termite at 7:13 PM on December 24, 2014


"A.B.C.: Always be cobbling!"
posted by wenestvedt at 8:32 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


(And cocoa is for closers.)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:32 PM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


So... quiche, pie or not?
posted by Artw at 9:59 PM on December 24, 2014


So I was at my country's local equivalent of Defcon a couple of weeks ago and the (full-bearded, ponytailed) MC made gags to an audience full of actual people with beards on their necks who all seemed to find this hilarious. So... I dunno, maybe only a neckbeard can call someone a neckbeard?

(Currently rocking hair from larynx to philtrum).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:19 PM on December 24, 2014


Neckbeard definitely has evolved; for reference I was born in 1980, in the cusp between "X" and "millennial," reading "cyberpunk" fiction and nonfiction in the early 90's and moving from VIC 20 to a DOS 4.0 286/12 around 1990, whoohoo.

In my experience it first started in UNIX circles where everyone involved was very "nerdy" in multiple possible areas, but to describe the most pedantic, religiously-intense, personally invested, and awkwardly opinionated stereotype of a nerd, namely rooted in pioneers pushing a specific purist software agenda like RMS and the GNU / HURD UNIX clone concept. There was a lot of loaded meaning that might include poor hygiene and being pedantic, but even back then the neckbeard wasn't physically necessary itself.

Certainly the visual / "meme" era goes one step beyond the mental image that originally underpinned the word, at a time when the word was more easy to use in text-only forums without really even having to point out any irony of using the word on someone without an actual beard, and now we are so ironic we fart rust and comfortably use words in this fashion all of the time, so in my experience the word has always been used without any regard or awareness of the actual physical appearance of the labeled individual, which includes the more "millennial" definition of the word that perhaps builds on the same tropes above but is more centered around libertarianism, engineer's disease, privilege, etc.

Ultimately I think it's a word that doesn't add much to a conversation and can't remember if I've invoked it. I appreciate the effort to discuss it and consider eliminating it from conversation, and agree that the word is worth discarding since it's always had an "inside joke" essence to it, but has been transformed considerably which can trigger debates with people who might meet the previous usage and vehemently dislike the new one ;D

When it comes to a physical beard though, it did not describe a specific beard style but did typically involve a beard of any kind that grew as a result of no beard trimming including shaving / "edging" around the neck area, so on certain individuals that will be prominent and obvious, but the beard can be billowing like in the link above, where neck is invisible regardless.
posted by aydeejones at 2:55 AM on December 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Does Santa's beard grow on his neck?
posted by wenestvedt at 4:12 AM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


My beard is less artificially shaped than RMS's. If you call me a neckbeard and genuinely intend it as an insult, I'm more than happy for you to continue being tormented by all your broken technology.

As a white Anglo male, I am pretty much incapable of taking it seriously as a putdown.
posted by flabdablet at 4:50 AM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Surely the actual word used is irrelevant? The point is that it acts as a carrier for contempt.

The word "paki" is just a contraction of the word "pakistani", but in the early 70s in the UK it became a word that firstly came to signify anyone who appeared to have come from the Indian subcontinent (in fact, significant numbers of new immigrants of that ethic group at that time were more likely to have come from Uganda, in Africa); secondly was a carrier for the speaker's contempt for the person they were aiming it at. The word was a tool for racists to be racist, but etymologically wasn't, in itself, a racist word. But no one would actually use the word unless their intention was racist (at a time when being racist was less socially unacceptable).

On the whole, I find that the ballooning use of epithets as a medium for argument, on Metafilter in particular, is regrettable. Not because I'm offended (I'm perfectly at home with the common usage of the Unspeakable C Word, which May Not Be Uttered around here because the sky would split and the world fall into darkness or something like that), but because it's stupid. If your argument against a person is that "they're an MRA asshole" (or whatever kind of asshole, douchebag or piece of shit you want to paint them as), I may well agree with your position on the subject at hand, in fact I more than likely do, but that's just a crude ad hominem fallacy.

If ad hom is the best you've got... well, you've just subtracted credibility from your position, surely. I usually assume that someone who tries to argue from a position that the person they're critiquing is wrong because they are an asshole, douchebag, piece of shit, prick, dick or whatever is just having a catharsis moment and skip over the comment to the next one. A fatuous argument in favour of a righteous position doesn't make the position any less righteous. But the righteousness of the position doesn't make the argument any less fatuous. And I'd suggest that a reliance on insulting ad hom arguments serves to render an argument fatuous in itself.

And I need you guys to provide non-fatuous, intelligent discussion because, as you can see from this comment, I'm not really up to it myself.

Nadolig Llawen pawb, anyway.
posted by Grangousier at 5:15 AM on December 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


In cycling, the term "Neckbeard" is often used to describe someone who rides a Rivendell, uses bar-end shifters, and smells like damp wool.

See also: "Retro Grouch."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:49 AM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


crude ad hominem fallacy

Ad hominem arguments are not necessarily fallacious, and calling your opponent's credibility into question is a perfectly reasonable move when you're convinced they're deluded or otherwise arguing in bad faith. Calling somebody a truther or birther or shill is surely an ad hominem attack, but it serves as completely workable shorthand for pointing out that what they're saying has been refuted elsewhere ad nauseam and simply doesn't merit a serious response.

I can certainly see a case for quickly dismissing entire classes of argument on the grounds that only a neckbeard or an MRA asshole could possibly espouse such a position.

Then again, argument via epithet doesn't bother me anywhere near as much as the frankly tiresome idea that formal argument is the only worthwhile mode of discussion.
posted by flabdablet at 5:51 AM on December 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


On the whole, I find that the ballooning use of epithets as a medium for argument, on Metafilter in particular, is regrettable.

As tonycpsu pointed out, it's not really "ballooning" in this case -- the MeTa used the word more than it has actually been used on the site in the last month: just twice, and the first time was saying that it's used as an insult by assholes.

We have been sealioned, plain and simple.
posted by Etrigan at 6:01 AM on December 25, 2014 [14 favorites]


> rooted in pioneers pushing a specific purist software agenda like RMS and the
> GNU / HURD UNIX clone concept.

If only they'd managed to get the hurd out the door before some normally-groomed non-neckbeard Finn beat them to it, things would have been different. But I have no idea how.
posted by jfuller at 6:12 AM on December 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


If your argument against a person is that "they're an MRA asshole" (or whatever kind of asshole, douchebag or piece of shit you want to paint them as), I may well agree with your position on the subject at hand, in fact I more than likely do, but that's just a crude ad hominem fallacy.

In a festive langeur - that's not exactly the case. The ad hominem fallacy is the argument that someone's argument is invalid because of an unrelated personal quality. Argumentum ad hominem, however, is not always fallacious. So, for example, "this person is an MRA" (or, more commonly, "this person's arguments have been taken from common MRA talking points") is actually a perfectly reasonable thing to point out if they are making factual claims about, say, domestic violence statistics.

"Neckbeard", however, is more Protean than that. In my first attempt at this question, back in (oy!) 2011, linked above, it turned out that it was actually being used as a shorthand for someone who prioritised hardware spec over ease of use in consumer technology. In that instance, I think that it's not a very useful term, descriptively, as well as being likely to be received as a pejorative. The fact that everyone seems to have a different sense of what neckbeard means (and indeed what a neckbeard is, physically) seems to be relevant to this. Whereas "MRA" is pretty well understood.

So, yeah.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:09 AM on December 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't think white dudes need a lot of protecting as a class, BUT, I don't really like "neckbeard." Most of my guy friends have beards that also grow on their necks; it just feels like I'm insulting them. None of them are the kind of pedantic joy-killer that I think "neckbeard" is meant to describe. And "pedant" is a perfectly good, and more accurate term.

It's hard, once you decide to stop using personal appearance/sexual preference as slurs for anyone, to come up with good ways of describing those you really dislike. I see "garbage" used a lot more these days, and of course "douche" has the unique cachet of actually dissing a thing harmful to women while also describing a terrible person. And we still have standbyes such as "jerk" "asshole", and "fucker." ("fucker" works because it is almost wholly divorced from the actual act described, and isn't explicitly gendered. Anyone can be a fucker, even a motherfucker, although you almost never mean they actually have sex with their mothers).

I think we are facing a linguistic challenge, culturally. We need descriptors for terrible people that don't make us equally terrible people for using them.

"Neckbeard" fails this test, I think. It doesn't make you as terrible a person as someone who uses a racist slur, but it's the kind of thing that can slam people who aren't actually terrible just because they look like those who are. Which is unfair.

I don't know about banning it, I just feel like we don't really need it.
posted by emjaybee at 8:11 AM on December 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Acknowledged and agreed. Adding it to the list of verboten words. Thanks!
posted by Renoroc at 8:44 AM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


"this person's arguments have been taken from common MRA talking points"

is not ad hominem. Treating it as a valid ad hom would actually be rather pernicious: the implied argument would be "your arguments are found in MRA talking points. Therefore you took your arguments from MRA sources. Therefore you are an MRA. MRAs do not argue points on domestic violence in good faith. Therefore your statistics need not be considered." That's a lot of shaky inferences just to get to a point where you can tell someone to get bent.
posted by topynate at 8:44 AM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Huh, that's a weird first definition, I never associated it with gamers. I've most often heard it in Open Source circles, as a way to put down jerky programmers who have a know-it-all attitude, where if something isn't working for you, it's your fault for not getting it right (not their programming.

I always associate the term with Richard Stallman. I think Eric S. Raymond is a neckbeard, despite only having a moustache, but Alan Cox definitely isn't a neckbeard, despite having a beard as long as Stallman.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:25 AM on December 25, 2014


Do we equally "need" a counterpart slur for slovenly nerdy women?

Personally, I'm liking legbeard, as introduced upthread.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:33 AM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'm disliking it.

The idea that hair is something that ought to be tamed or removed is completely wrong. Hair are your aerials.
posted by flabdablet at 10:51 AM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well firstly, i really really hope that this doesn't become some thing where if you say it on here, you get smalltext linked to the meta and asked not to because it's "controversial" or whatever.

Secondly, while i could see the argument against butthurt obviously had some serious merit and was coming from a strong position when it was brought up, i don't really see it for neckbeard.

The fact that it could be some kind of insult targeted at fat guys is honestly sort of prescriptivist. That's just not how it's used. I can't even think of the last time i saw or heard it being used in any way that remotely mention that, and can only think of a couple times the text surrounding it made the obviously implication they were taking it there(and that was by someone who was generally being an asshole, anyways).

What really gets me about the not-on-mefi opposition to it too is that i see it as gamegate type guys who don't want their to be a go-to term for their sealioning* behavior and general poopy butted baby bullshit that says "oh, this is a specific pattern of behavior i've seen before. So they slapped together a fairly legitimate sounding reason why it's bad to say, couched in "sjw" language and went whatever the internet equivalent is of door to door like jehovas witnesses.

I'm seeing some really shitty defenses of this in here and it disappoints me. The "well if it does apply to a real persons appearance, why don't they change their appearance?" type stuff sucks.

A much better point is that this has nothing, or at least very very little to do with the actual appearance of the person being called that. And i know this is a weak thing to bring up, but i know several fat nerdy dudes who agree with that.


I think a much more interesting discussion to have though, is how often does it get used in a way like "SJW" where it's just a broad dismissive club. Personally i haven't seen that much, but i'd be open to the concept of that kinda ruining it or making it not worth saying.

*I give it six months, max, before there's a bad-faith opposition to this term because "sea lions are fat and it's a joke about fat nerds". Not on mefi, but just like, on twitter and reddit and shit by gator types. I called it, link to this comment when it happens if you see it lol
posted by emptythought at 11:18 AM on December 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, I guess we all didn't pray hard enough for the Christmas Eve flame-out. :/
posted by tonycpsu at 11:30 AM on December 25, 2014


i have only seen legbeard used in 2 ways - 1) red pill/gamegators/mra/anti-feminists/etc using it seriously as a totally sick burn, dude and 2) women who it's directed towards laughing hysterically at the idea they'd be offended by that and then using it among themselves for more laughing and merriment.
posted by nadawi at 11:43 AM on December 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yeah I think drawing parallels between "butthurt" and "neckbeard" is pretty weak. "Butthurt" is very clearly a homophobic slur, and arguably—depending on use—a rapey one at that (that it comes to us from the vile homophobic and rape-celebrating, gleefully offensive sewer that is "chan culture" should surprise exactly nobody). It has no place here.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:51 AM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

The fact that it could be some kind of insult targeted at fat guys is honestly sort of prescriptivist. That's just not how it's used. I can't even think of the last time i saw or heard it being used in any way that remotely mention that
There seem to have been a lot of assertions like this in this thread (and similarly "not actually referring to facial hair", or to slovenliness, or to BO, or to lack of social graces). Frankly, they seem completely detached from reality to me. Do a google image search for "neckbeard". You'll see this and this and this and this and this. Not a svelte guy among them, and although some look vaguely kempt, some, well, do not, at least to me. These were not ones that I cherry picked; they were the first row of results in my search.

Look it up on knowyourmeme. "Neckbeard is a pejorative term referring to unattractive, overweight and misogynistic Internet users who wear a style of facial hair in which a majority of the growth is present on the chin and neck."

Look it up on Urban Dictionary. "(1) Facial hair that does not exist on the face, but instead on the neck. Almost never well groomed. (2) Derogatory term for slovenly nerdy people who have no sense of hygene or grooming. Often related to hobbies such as card gaming, video gaming, anime, et. al."

Related words (again from Urban Dictionary) include nerd, loser, fat, virgin, geek.

You people who are claiming oh, it has nothing to actually do with appearance (and so forth) are way, way out of line with how the term is actually used in popular culture. Maybe "a know it all jerk" is the way you use it, maybe that's the way you've heard it, but that's not what the term generally means outside of your isolated social circle.

Similarly, the "It's not as bad as racist or sexist slurs" people... of course it's not, especially from the point of view of its impact on society as opposed to its impact on individual people. So what? There are a lot of things that are not as bad as racist or sexist slurs. Not all of them are good. Not all of them are even not bad. "The thing that I do is not as bad as racism" is not a particularly compelling argument for your standards of decency.

I really don't see what's so difficult about this. You're using a term to insult people, and it hits a lot of people who you are not targeting and who you shouldn't be targeting. Many of these people probably feel bad enough about themselves already, for being fat and unkempt and smelly and lacking social graces. Why are you doing this?
posted by Flunkie at 11:56 AM on December 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


You're using a term to insult people

Who is using it, exactly? It's appeared 280-some times in the entire history of the blue. Many of those are just blockquotes of other people using it. Many others are just referring to it as an entity -- an actual neck beard -- not using it to refer to nerds.

It was used twice in the last month.

This. Is. Not. A. Thing.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:08 PM on December 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Oh please. Who? The people who say they use it. The people who argue in this thread about whether or not it's OK to use it that it's OK to use it. Is it used a lot on Metafilter? I don't know, I guess not. But I'm not sure how that's really all that relevant in the face of people arguing that it's OK to use it on Metafilter.
posted by Flunkie at 12:10 PM on December 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


I see a lot of people dismissing comparisons to "butthurt", "legbeard", and other "punching down" type insults. I see people who believe it refers more to attitude than weight, hygiene, or shaving habits.

I see very little argument that it's important that they use it, and the facts that it's so seldom used on the blue and that the instance that prompted this MeTa is such a weak example of it being used in a nasty way are very relevant.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:14 PM on December 25, 2014


Jesus Christ. So what? It exists on this thread whether you see a lot of it or not.
posted by Flunkie at 12:15 PM on December 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


OK, then I ask again -- what outcome would satisfy you here? The staff has made their position clear. Many people who have never used the term but also don't think it's that bad, including myself, have said that they'll refrain from using it out of respect to those who say they're offended. The OP has said they're fine closing the thread.

What exactly are we arguing for at this point?
posted by tonycpsu at 12:19 PM on December 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't care about an "outcome" to "satisfy" me, and I don't particularly care about the staff's position. I am objecting to the idea that seems to be common in this thread that it is not actually related to appearance, slovenliness, or lack of social graces. I furthermore added at the end of my objection a summary mentioning that people who use it are hitting more people than they're targeting, and it was apparently beyond the pale for me to casually use the word "you" when doing so.

As for why we're arguing, I have no idea why you are arguing with me. You'd have to ask yourself.
posted by Flunkie at 12:22 PM on December 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


I furthermore added at the end of my objection a summary mentioning that people who use it are hitting more people than they're targeting, and it was apparently beyond the pale for me to casually use the word "you" when doing so.

Beyond the pale? No, but your complaint is that people are using the word in ways that cause collateral damage, so I thought it was important to note that there have been no examples cited of anyone you're currently talking to actually using it, and that people arguing that it's different from other insults is not an argument for wanting to continue using a word that they weren't using in the first place.

In other words, you were demanding precise target selection from others, while aiming your own criticism broadly at a group of people who aren't the ones who have ever used the word. I don't think it's pedantic to point this out.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:36 PM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


And, like, I'm an overweight software engineer who often goes days without shaving, so I'd certainly be among the people who could take offense to the term. I agree with those who've said they interpret it as more about the entitled know-it-all jerky attitude than the actual appearance.

That said, I understand that some of my fellow geeks feel differently, and may be more sensitive to the weight/hygiene connotations, so, while I never have used it on the blue, this thread will certainly be in my mind if I ever feel the urge to use it.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:42 PM on December 25, 2014


I'm with Flunkie -- setting aside the fact that this MeTa was a bullshit frame-up, the pushback from people insisting that it's not really offensive, despite people saying it offended them (well, one person), has been pretty uncool. The number of people saying, "Oh, okay, I won't use it" has been dwarfed by the people saying, "Nope, I never use this word, but I still get to." That's not even picking the wrong hill to die on; it's picking an arbitrary set of coordinates in the middle of a flat square mile to die on.
posted by Etrigan at 12:43 PM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


. The number of people saying, "Oh, okay, I won't use it" has been dwarfed by the people saying, "Nope, I never use this word, but I still get to."

Has it? I just scrolled up through 40-ish comments (stopped at the "Merry Christmas" ones) and see exactly one such comment, and four or five saying "I won't use it" or "I don't like it."
posted by tonycpsu at 12:48 PM on December 25, 2014


*I give it six months, max, before there's a bad-faith opposition to this term because "sea lions are fat and it's a joke about fat nerds."

Oh the huge manatee.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:20 PM on December 25, 2014 [20 favorites]


tony chill bro, Flunkie said his thing. It's a thread that is here to discuss the topic of this word, that is why he is talking about it. I posted my thoughts upthread that I do not like this word, but I have never seen it as a major issue here. I was moved to say stuff because on other sites I visit it IS a major issue and those sites don't really have venues like the grey where you can vent so I said my thing. It is not something the moderators should treat as something to focus on, obviously. If you ask me what outcome I want, I've already had it. I got to vent.

Yeah I think drawing parallels between "butthurt" and "neckbeard" is pretty weak. "Butthurt" is very clearly a homophobic slur, and arguably—depending on use—a rapey one at that (that it comes to us from the vile homophobic and rape-celebrating, gleefully offensive sewer that is "chan culture" should surprise exactly nobody). It has no place here.


My read on it has always been that it means "pain in the butt" which is utterly harmless and inoffensive. People here have said they interpret it the way you do though, so I don't use it. As I said, we are all individuals here, to the best of our ability we should within reason try and be respectful of each other.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:36 PM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


TIL legbeard. And I am disgusted with humanity.
posted by Splunge at 3:00 PM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm cool as long as we can all say Fuck Truck. Merry Yule y'all!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:19 PM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


As for why we're arguing, I have no idea why you are arguing with me. You'd have to ask yourself.
This, and your previous posts drip with "and if you disagree with me you're a bad oppressive person and I obviously have the moral high ground". It's just like, this weird absolutist junk we hashed over in the recent Andrew W.K. thread.

I'm willing to accept that not everyone shares my definition of neckbeard, but the way you're presenting it seriously just makes me want to disregard the whole thing.

Just because I don't think everyone is interpreting it in the worst possible way doesn't mean I'm waging some weird idealistic war.

If you say "I think this means some terrible thing" and I say "I don't", I'm not like denying your lived experience or something. And I really don't think the racism/sexism/etc comparisons early in the thread are out of place, since the people saying this is bad are seemingly treating it that way, where you're either on the side of All Good Things or you're on the wrong side of history.

This is not the n word, and this is not a rape joke. I feel like it's fair to say its open to interpretation without being some ass that's defending some flat square mile.

As i said, If I have a massively minority viewpoint here I can accept that. But I really don't like getting told or having it implies that everyone in my side is defending some arbitrary point for its own sake.

I'm not fighting for the right to insult people, I just think that this term is associated with a very specific type of shitty behavior and that it's fairly useful and fun way to describe that.

If we have to drop it, I'd be fine with gator being the replacement.

ethics in misogynistic nerd lambasting?
posted by emptythought at 4:12 PM on December 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


emptythought, I am not disagreeing with the idea that you and others don't think it means what I think it means. I am disagreeing with (for example) your statement that "The fact that it could be some kind of insult targeted at fat guys is honestly sort of prescriptivist. That's just not how it's used. I can't even think of the last time i saw or heard it being used in any way that remotely mention that".

Again, look at how it is used. Look at Google Image Search. Look at Urban Dictionary. Look at Know Your Meme. It is how it is used, and if you think "that's just not how it's used", you are flatly wrong. I'm not saying you're wrong that that's not what you mean by it; I'm saying you're wrong that "That's just not how it's used." Flatly wrong.
And I really don't think the racism/sexism/etc comparisons early in the thread are out of place, since the people saying this is bad are seemingly treating it that way, where you're either on the side of All Good Things or you're on the wrong side of history.
Good lord. Did you miss the part where I said "Of course it's not as bad as racism and sexism, but so what"? Characterizing my words as "seemingly treating it" like racism and sexism is either a lie or very poor reading.
posted by Flunkie at 4:22 PM on December 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm willing to accept that not everyone shares my definition of neckbeard, but the way you're presenting it seriously just makes me want to disregard the whole thing.


Yeah, this exactly.

The discussion has descended to the "You are wrong" vs "No, you're wrong" stage. Over a word that's barely used on the site. No one is going to convince the other of their wrongness. Soooo...yeaaaah
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:45 PM on December 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Kadin2048: "Butthurt" is very clearly a homophobic slur

One of the things these threads usually demonstrate - this one certainly has - is how people have different connotations with words, in this case insults. See how people are discussing/arguing about whether 'neckbeard' includes an element of fat-shaming or not.

That being said, and this was a major part of the original thread on the word, 'butthurt' is not very clearly a homophobic slur. Some people associate it with that, but just as equally some people only associate it with, like, a childhood smack or a shorter way of referring to 'pain in the arse'. General consensus seemed to end up on most people choosing not to use the term going forward, but that doesn't mean the term was, or is, a slur.

I believe that just because something is used in a bad way by bad people doesn't mean that we have to let them unequivocally taint whatever they touch forever; I might not go to the mats for butthurt, but it's part of the larger conversation about words that seem to have lost their negative aspects, or gained them, or been reclaimed, or are treated as an insult by one group while being treated as a positive by others.

I don't think it's too much to say that it's a word where reasonable people can disagree about what it represents, and it's not a word where the most offensive reading is 'very clearly' accurate. If there is reasonable discussion over whether you actually need neck-hair to be a 'neckbeard', then the idea that 'butthurt' is definitely a slur is simply untrue.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:16 PM on December 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


> We have been sealioned, plain and simple.

"Sealioning" is a term I've taken a strong instant dislike to. Part of this is just because it's new; I have no problem with older familiar derogatory uses of other animal names like "dog", "weasel" and "pig". But I also have an issue with the attitude. As David Malki's strip makes clear, a sealion is someone who buts in where they don't belong and aren't wanted, even though their behavior is otherwise unobjectionable.

In some contexts, this is rightfully regarded as a kind of trolling: men's rights activist showing up on feminist websites, for instance. or liberals showing up on conservative forums to (politely) tell conservatives they suck. But MetaFilter is a general interest site with a pretty diverse and international membership. The idea that MetaFilter is a site just for American Liberal Democrats who come from a fuzzily defined 'right' kind of class, ethnic and educational background, and anyone who comes from a different background is troll who doesn't belong here, is something I, and I think a lot of MeFites, object to.

If Etrigan's use of "We have been sealioned" was meant as reference to the OP, it's a perfect example of why I don't like the term. By complaining about the use of "neckbeard" as generic insult for anyone in a nerdy occupation or who has nerdy interests, the OP outed themselves as a nerd. Do you really mean, Etrigan, that MetaFilter has no place for nerds? Do you really mean that anyone who has a science or programming background who participates on MeFi is a troll because they're not wanted here (or a "sealion" if they participate politely)? And people who have specialized interests, like language nerds and poetry nerds? This seems wildly inappropriate on MetaFilter. If you eliminated all "nerds" from the site, I think you'd eliminate at least two thirds of the site's active members and all of the moderators. (Then again, maybe I misinterpreted the comment.)


For the record, I don't object to "manspalaining" and the earlier use of "neckbeard" to mean 'asshole, know-it-all programmer' because they both refer to a particular kind of attitude and behavior. (And they refer to approximately the same thing. A "neckbeard", when the term is used this way, is a programmer who mansplains programming to other programmers.) I do object to the more recent use of "neckbeard" as a perjorative to refer to entire classes of people based on occupation, interests and gender, and it seems to be associated with some pretty nasty and mostly undeserved stereotypes by people who use it this way.

And, yeah, this is me complaining again about how exclusionary and xenophobic MetaFilter feels sometimes. I'm not happy that the exclusionists have come up with a new term to beat the rest of us with. But it's the underlying attitude, not the word so much, that's the problem. I'm an inbred hick, a language nerd, and my political views are social democratic rather than standard American liberal. I should probably change my user name to "sealion" or just quit.
posted by nangar at 5:48 PM on December 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


(Then again, maybe I misinterpreted the comment.)

Very much so, yes.

A sealion is not "someone who buts in where they don't belong and aren't wanted, even though their behavior is otherwise unobjectionable." It's someone who pops up in a conversation to derail it via insistence on the conversation being what the sealion wants it to be about, using relentless "You have not answered my question" and goalpost-moving and insistence on "evidence" and making overly broad comparisons.
posted by Etrigan at 6:00 PM on December 25, 2014 [14 favorites]


Louisa May Alcott reportedly mentioned to Emerson that Thoreau’s neckbeard “will most assuredly deflect amorous advances and preserve the man’s virtue in perpetuity.”
posted by 4ster at 6:17 PM on December 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Etrigan, Did the OP move the goal posts? Where were they before? I thought they were objecting to a particular use of a derogatory term. What conversation were they derailing by posting the MeTa?

You're describing things that dishonest people do in conversations, but not things the OP did by posting a MeTa about the derogatory use of "neckbeard" on MeFi.
posted by nangar at 6:35 PM on December 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


the op comparing neckbeard to things that oppressed groups are called as part of their oppression i think is where the charges of sealioning come from - to me it's like when the gamegators compared themselves to ferguson, or just general godwinning - it's raising the heat in the room to try to preemptively win an argument, often by using liberal/sjw/whatever you want to call it language to play gotcha with. it's a pretty shitty move, even (or especially) if it's the opening gambit. no matter how bad the bullying was, neckbeard (a term he was never bullied with, btw) is not and will never be akin to faggot or bitch.
posted by nadawi at 7:00 PM on December 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


Oh, I'm sorry, nangar. I didn't realize that you were going for like a sealioning role-play thing. My bad. Okay, let's start over. Just do that again -- it was a perfect example.
posted by Etrigan at 7:07 PM on December 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


> Kadin2048: "Butthurt" is very clearly a homophobic slur

Naaaaah. Originates from the down-in-the-mouth mood pursuant to getting your butt spanked as a child or kicked as an adult. Never knew a single soul who got a down-in-the-mouth mood from getting their butt hurt by encounters describable by a homophobic slur. Wrong.theory.is.wrong.


> I'm willing to accept that not everyone shares my definition of neckbeard, but the way you're
> presenting it seriously just makes me want to disregard the whole thing.

I'm slightly less compliant. If everyone else's definition of word X is different from mine, I am right and all of them are wrong, and that is the objective case.

But benignly so; I'll be happy to correct, explain, and teach. Or not, if it's unwelcome. Proof, been here since 2001, still unbanned. (Though I grant you that may just mean that user #1 and the other mods are more tolerant than almost all of the rest of the active users. If only their wise example were better followed. Still, bannination exists and no few former mefites have suffered it.) Not jf. Neck cleanshaven and has been since puberty.

N.b. I don't do descriptivist calculus either.
posted by jfuller at 7:15 PM on December 25, 2014


Louisa May Alcott reportedly mentioned to Emerson that Thoreau’s neckbeard “will most assuredly deflect amorous advances and preserve the man’s virtue in perpetuity.”

I would be very interested in seeing a source for this.
posted by RogerB at 7:22 PM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


i'm not seeing how a post about subject x can be sealioned by people who are actually discussing subject x - no one was called out by name and no one should feel like they have to participate in this discussion

i always thought that neckbeard was from hardcore computer programming culture and not some general term about a certain kind of online actor - it's not that interesting to me as an insult or a controversy

butthurt is a phrase that a 14 year old kid would use - if that's how people want to present themselves ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:25 PM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


if someone wants to talk about how they don't like a term, they should talk about that. comparing it to things systemically oppressed groups are called is not a good way to start a conversation. it's really no different than when people compare moderation here to fascism - they aren't even broadly comparable and introducing it like that isn't just talking about moderation...much like comparing neckbeard to those other things isn't just a conversation about neckbeard.
posted by nadawi at 7:36 PM on December 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


I would be very interested in seeing a source for this.

this article lists this as the source for alcott's quote about thoreau's facial hair :
Louisa May Alcott in a letter to Emerson. See William Gilman, et al., The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 16 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960), quoted in Wikipedia entry on Henry David Thoreau.
unless someone here has it or wants to drop $120+ for the collection, i think that's as close as we can get to source. i admit to being interested to what the quote was like in context of the journal...
posted by nadawi at 7:55 PM on December 25, 2014


All right, if this thread has accomplished nothing else it's caused me to do some Internet secondhand-quotation tracing. That Louisa May Alcott line about Thoreau's beard, which I'm now feeling pretty confident is fabricated, was planted on Wikipedia in December 2007, supported by a "citation" to Emerson's Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks (all sixteen volumes, with no volume or page provided. I happen to have read them and don't remember encountering this rather funny, oddly phrased line, but of course that proves nothing; there's an awful lot in there that I don't remember). It doesn't show up on any web page dated before then, or in any Google Books search at all, that I can see. The user who inserted the line made at least one other clear prank/joke edit in their brief time editing (searching around this one led me to believe I've also discovered their real identity but I'll leave that out here), and never responded to an immediate request for a real, specific citation. Nevertheless, this fairly obvious bullshit hung around the Wikipedia article until March 2014, during which time it was re-quoted all over the damn place, including by many people who ought to know better, lending it a spurious air of authenticity.

Wikipedia travels halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on.
posted by RogerB at 7:59 PM on December 25, 2014 [39 favorites]


And just FWIW in case people are interested in the true state of historical knowledge about Thoreau's facial hair, this page actually is trustworthy in my professional opinion.
posted by RogerB at 8:11 PM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Neckbeard may be insulting, but the only way it is a slur is if I say it after having too much bourbon.


I've had too much bourbon.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:44 PM on December 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


TIL "sealioning" and now I'm TIL.
posted by flabdablet at 9:04 PM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


> Kadin2048: "Butthurt" is very clearly a homophobic slur

Naaaaah. Originates from the down-in-the-mouth mood pursuant to getting your butt spanked as a child or kicked as an adult. Never knew a single soul who got a down-in-the-mouth mood from getting their butt hurt by encounters describable by a homophobic slur. Wrong.theory.is.wrong.


Nailed it — it never even occurred to me that it could be intended as a slur, because I always thought that that was so clearly the intended meaning. And yet, oddly enough, you rarely see people pointing out the very clearly homophobic origins of "X sucks," inasmuch as it's pretty generally regarded to be short for "sucks dick." On the other hand, it's become so normal a thing to say that "X stinks" or some other alternative sounds like deliberate self-censorship along the lines of "golly" or "gee whiz."
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:09 PM on December 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm gonna have to echo xxxmc. I had not heard the term and now a symposia is... One thing I do remember is more commas were used to convey concerning name calling.

T
Do not call me/refer to me as T

Before mods.
Y, You $, do you€> loving,@@@;?, upon re-entry! Or is it mere methane?

It was ugly and in a few instances
an art form. That does not justify, even regret.
posted by clavdivs at 12:28 AM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


tony chill bro, Flunkie said his thing.

And I said my thing, which was that his thing was way off base, because it confused people who didn't like the butthurt etc. comparisons with people who were arguing for their continued ability to use a word they never used in the first place. If you're taking offense to me asking him what his desired outcome was, that was simply a result of (a) the vanishingly small amount of use the term gets on the blue, (b) the fact that the example that gave rise to this post was so obviously weak, and (c) the fact that most of the people who have made a statement one way or another have broken in the direction of "I won't use the word" or at least "I will try not to use the word." Given these factors, it seemed like he was vastly overstating the amount of support there was for using the insult after so many people had already made "yeah, it's kind of crappy, I won't use it" comments, or at least acknowledged that there was a collateral damage aspect.

It's totally reasonable to ask what the exit strategy for a MeTa is. I read him as overstating the level of support for the insult, and I stand by that. I don't see why you're singling me out in particular here.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:49 AM on December 26, 2014


If we assume that 'butthurt' refers to anal rape, then we still can't assume that there is homophobia involved. After all, women have butts, too.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:01 AM on December 26, 2014


I stopped saying butthurt. I guess I can stop saying this. Ditto with the fedora mocking. Can't hurt, could help, even if only for me to think more charitably about others instead of putting them in a box. Seems pretty straightforward.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:04 AM on December 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


I put someone in a box once. You think they won't fit, but you just fold up the arms and saw off the legs and put the legs in backwards,and you've just about got room for all the bits of head. Anyway I'm in prison now, in solitary confinement - so I guess they put me in a box too! Heh! No, but it's humorous little thoughts like that that keep you going, really.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:46 AM on December 26, 2014 [28 favorites]


box #1 boxnunc kid
posted by pyramid termite at 5:06 AM on December 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Did I completely misunderstand the the meaning of "sealion"? I understood it as referring to somebody who has contrary opinions or is otherwise unwelcome on a particular site who's also annoyingly polite, basically a polite troll. Etrigan's describing a sealion as someone who engages in bad faith argumentation, and nadawi seems to understand the term the same way. Is this how other people understand the word?

I'm not being dishonest, or intentionally moving goal posts around, but I may have misunderstood the word.
posted by nangar at 5:14 AM on December 26, 2014


If you look at any prominent feminist twitter feeds you will see more sea lions than in the San Diego harbor. They show up in their mentions and 'politely' expect every single bad faith 'question' be addressed ad nauseum and if the target doesn't answer they claim victory.

That's what I understand it to be.
posted by winna at 5:20 AM on December 26, 2014 [14 favorites]


I understood it as referring to somebody who has contrary opinions or is otherwise unwelcome on a particular site who's also annoyingly polite, basically a polite troll.

yes, but there's also the element of specifically targeting someone, or a group of people, in an ongoing conversation with annoyingly polite questioning

this particular conversation was started by "the polite troll", so he can't be sealioning it
posted by pyramid termite at 5:39 AM on December 26, 2014


this particular conversation was started by "the polite troll", so he can't be sealioning it

He's sealioning the site, not just this particular URL.
posted by Etrigan at 5:43 AM on December 26, 2014

tony chill bro, Flunkie said his thing.
And I said my thing, which was that his thing was way off base, because it confused people who didn't like the butthurt etc. comparisons with people who were arguing for their continued ability to use a word they never used in the first place.
Oh baloney. My "thing" is not way off base; my thing is a fact. Specifically, that the people who claim it doesn't have to do with appearance or slovenliness or social graces or whatever are contradicted by the actual popular usage, to which I gave plenty of examples.

You (I'll be specific this time and say that I literally mean "you", tonyscpu) then came along complaining that nobody was saying what I said they were saying. This despite the fact that there are plenty of people here who were (and in fact still have been even after your complaints) saying what I've said they say. Later, you came up with an asinine "Oh, you're using 'you' broadly so you're hitting people you're not targeting, you hypocrite", despite the fact that I even explicitly addressed the "you" to you who use it and later to you who use it and you who argue that it's OK.

Then emptythought comes along with their ridiculous diatribe which ignores everything that I was actually saying and instead gets all mad about me (supposedly) saying that I was denying their experience of thinking the word means "jerk". I did no such thing; I denied their claim that the word is never used to mean unattractive fat slovenly nerd. I did so with ample evidence, which was all ignored, just as the actual thing that I was saying was ignored in favor of some total strawman.

I'll say it again, and then I'll shut up: This term is commonly used to mean unattractive fat slovenly nerd. This is a fact. I've given lots of evidence for this fact. This fact does not mean that I disbelieve anyone who says they were not familiar with this fact and has had an experience leading them to believe that it means "jerk". But it's a fact nonetheless: It's commonly used to mean fat slob.

And now in my conclusion I'll be very careful not to casually use the word "you": Hence, people who use the word -- even those who mean it as "jerk", and even those who have no idea that it commonly means "fat slob" -- are hitting people they are not and should not be targetting, in a way that will make many of them feel worse about their physical appearance and their lack of social graces and so forth, which many of them probably feel pretty bad about anyway. So if one has used it in the past without knowing this, I'm not putting them down for it and I'm not attacking them for it. But if they subsequently encounter -- like, for example, emptythought now has -- ample evidence for the fact that the way they use it is not the only way it's used, and that it's commonly used as an attack against someone's appearance and hygiene and whatnot then now they know.

If they then launch -- like, for example, emptythought has -- into a ridiculous strawman about their experience being denied by an absolutist who is claiming that "fat slob" is the only way it is used and claims that anyone who says they thought it meant "jerk" is a "bad oppressive person" who is " on the wrong side of history", then...

... then whatever. Jesus. I can't believe how absurdly this has gone. I'm done in this thread.
posted by Flunkie at 5:48 AM on December 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


etrigan, that implies that he and his opinions or questions are not welcome here - and yet, the question was approved by the mods
posted by pyramid termite at 5:49 AM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


He's sealioning the site, not just this particular URL.

I don't accept the frame of a continuous site-wide conversation that can be disrupted by posting a new MeTa thread, particularly a thread that doesn't even refer to the topic of that putative conversation. If the recently proposed feminist sub-site idea had been taken up, then sure. The dynamic here seems to me to be much more straightforward: someone wants his male white geeks to get some credibility as a commonly abused group. You don't.
posted by topynate at 6:07 AM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


The reason I find the term "sealion" to be perfect is that there are these lizards (and I may be misremembering here) that try to migrate from one island to another. They can't swim very well or breathe underwater, but they do their best. And when a lizard just trying to get from point A to point B is accosted by a sea lion, the sea lion will harass the lizard until the lizard escapes or drowns. The sea lion actually could kill the lizard pretty quickly if that's what it really wanted to do, but they actually punt the thing around like a football for fun. I'm getting angry just thinking about those fuckers.

Etrigan, the question of "neckbeard" usage is something that we could theoretically discuss fruitfully without particular regard to the poster, and in any case el io appears to have plenty of good-faith interaction with the site such that I would not dismiss them as sealioning.
posted by Jpfed at 6:09 AM on December 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think the "sealion" debate is a derail. el io hasn't pestered everyone in the thread with pedantic, apparently polite questions delivered with aggressive insistence. He does seem to have asked his question apropos of nothing: He didn't use the OP to link to any particularly egregious recent instances of the word's use, and as the discussion here has shown, the word has been debated before and isn't frequently used on Metafilter anyway. It's okay to fault him for that, as far as that goes, but I don't think "sealioning" is the word for that fault.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:42 AM on December 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Shyster" is an insulting term for "lawyer". If a MeFite calls another MeFite "a fucking shyster" an somebody flags it, the mods will probably delete it because it's a personal attack. It doesn't mean that lawyers are an oppressed class.
posted by nangar at 6:48 AM on December 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm mostly responsible for the "sealion" derail, since I asked about it. I think I have a better understanding of the term now. Thanks winna and pyramid.

And, yeah, I don't see any reason to think el io was insincere or posting in bad faith. The word probably does rub him the wrong way.
posted by nangar at 7:10 AM on December 26, 2014


"Did I completely misunderstand the the meaning of "sealion"? I understood it as referring to somebody who has contrary opinions or is otherwise unwelcome on a particular site who's also annoyingly polite, basically a polite troll. Etrigan's describing a sealion as someone who engages in bad faith argumentation, and nadawi seems to understand the term the same way. Is this how other people understand the word?"

"Sealioning" is engaging in and politely disagreeing in a conversation that doesn't involve you with a little bit of concern troll thrown in. Oddly it's applied mostly to Twitter which involves everyone who has a Twitter account. It doesn't describe a new idea. It is "shut up and listen". It's just the latest dogwhistle from the left similar to how "thug" has for some time been a dogwhistle denoting young black men.
posted by vapidave at 7:29 AM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Uh, it's not the same thing as "thug" at all, dude.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 7:53 AM on December 26, 2014 [14 favorites]


Huh. I always assumed shyster was antisenitic in some way. Turns out it's actually calling lawyers a bunch of shits.
posted by Artw at 8:19 AM on December 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Namecalling and insisting on labels for people sure gets complicated. It's too bad we don't have better options.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:29 AM on December 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


Well, not calling lawyers a bunch of shits. Calling people who pretended to be lawyers a bunch of shits.

Anti-lawyer sentiment is so great in our culture that even just after they read the origin of shyster they elide the fact that the insult's not referring to real lawyers. That level of hate is exactly why lawyers are an oppressed class. /hamburger.
posted by bswinburn at 9:31 AM on December 26, 2014


Flunkie: You (I'll be specific this time and say that I literally mean "you", tonyscpu) then came along complaining that nobody was saying what I said they were saying.[...] Later, you came up with an asinine "Oh, you're using 'you' broadly so you're hitting people you're not targeting, you hypocrite"

Sorry to disrupt your flounce and bounce, but that's simply not what happened. I didn't address your overly broad critique "later", I did it in my very first response to the comment of yours that re-kindled this thing. You then responded in a way that continued to conflate people who don't like putting it in the same class as other insults with people who were arguing for an affirmative right to use it.

I won't belabor this point any further since you've said you're out, but I don't take accusations of goalpost-moving lightly, especially when it's trivial to see that you're distorting the record of what I actually said.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:56 AM on December 26, 2014


Having a bad argument is not the same as arguing in bad faith.

I'd also argue that having this discussion is okay. We aren't being flooded with concern trolling (well, if you consider one or two a month acceptable, and I do, partially because I often contribute...). People have been made aware of the previous conversations and various perspectives on this issue. No poster should expect a blue or grey thread to stay within the post's framing anyways.
posted by halifix at 10:09 AM on December 26, 2014


lol, right, right. So this:
you were demanding precise target selection from others, while aiming your own criticism broadly at a group of people who aren't the ones who have ever used the word.
... which, by the way, was in fact later, and which was explicitly in response to a quote of me discussing your attack on my casual use of the word "you", is not a later claim of hypocrisy about me hitting people that I'm not targeting.

I mean it this time: I'm out, after one last thing:
it's trivial to see that you're distorting the record of what I actually said.
lol
posted by Flunkie at 10:21 AM on December 26, 2014


Metatalk: I mean it this time: I'm out, after one last thing
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 10:26 AM on December 26, 2014 [32 favorites]


I thought "sealioning" was referencing Operation Sea Lion. But, I think that's because I used to hang out at the alternatehistory.com forum.

Also, I always kind of thought neckbeard gained in popularity because "nerd" is right there in the word itself.

Ne(ckbea)rd

And also, don't like professional athletes and Amish have neckbeards? And they are definitely not nerdy types.
posted by FJT at 10:29 AM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, Ghost of Flunkie, that was me expanding on the point I made in my original response. Your disingenuous framing of it as a point I made "later" made it sound like I was being inconsistent, when in fact my disagreement was never with your point about what neckbeard means to people, rather, it was about your attempt to make a mountain out of a molehill of a word that is almost never used, was not used in a nasty way in the case that gave rise to this MeTa, and which a vast majority of people in this MeTa who've made statements one way or another have said they will not use.

lol all you want, but don't bring that weak shit in here.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:30 AM on December 26, 2014


I think "neckbeard" is worth avoiding simply because there's no escaping that one of the connotations for some of its users is technical aptitude. So it's kind of co-morbid with maintaining bad old sexist stereotypes. On unix-ish forums, I've seen people open with "Greetings fellow bearded ones", which is of course meant as a weak joke and yet which of course contributes to a tone telling women "not for you".

Tossing it around as an insult will just help inspire some people to double-down on taking it back. I don't think it's so interesting or useful an insult to be close to worth the secondary effects.
posted by Zed at 10:36 AM on December 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Neither Flunkie nor tonycpsu are coming away from this one looking very good. Why are we still having this thread when the original question seems to be as settled as it's going to get for now, and all that's still happening is that two users are engaging in a protracted and pedantic version of the ol' schoolyard back-and-forth? Maybe it's time to close this up before they embarrass themselves any further.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:22 AM on December 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


If objecting when my position is misrepresented is being an asshole, then I'm an asshole, but I was also campaigning for this to be closed well before it got re-kindled. I continue to support closure even as I refuse to let someone take a cheap shot at me on their way out.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:38 AM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


How can you people spend so much time overthinking a neck of whiskers?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:47 AM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Neckbeards are not women, black people, or homosexual people.

Yet most of us have seen neckbeards on individuals from each of those demographic categories.
posted by y2karl at 12:32 PM on December 26, 2014


I literally clarify what I said a few comments later, y2karl.
posted by maxsparber at 12:39 PM on December 26, 2014


That is temporal!
posted by clavdivs at 1:02 PM on December 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Today I learned Richard Wagner wore a neckbeard. I got this from the know-your-meme website; but I don't trust any of the rest of what they say. I always have thought the derivation was from somebody who almost never trims their beard regardless of presence or absence of moustache. The implication being that fashionable facial hair is trimmed almost daily. (That may be way off as I have never grown any facial hair since in my first attempt I discovered my beard has four distinct colors in patterns I have never observed on any beard in the wild.)
posted by bukvich at 1:28 PM on December 26, 2014


...even as I refuse to let someone take a cheap shot at me on their way out.

One of the things it's taken me the longest time to learn about Internet forums is the value of saying your say and then leaving it alone. This allows other people to see much more clearly the direction the hurled mud is coming from, and apply character judgment filters accordingly.

If there's one thing sadder than a sea lion, it's two sea lions mud wrestling.
posted by flabdablet at 3:55 PM on December 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well, there's being wrong about stuff, and then there's being wrong what I said just a day or two earlier. I place a high value on making sure my own arguments aren't misrepresented, and if that makes me look like an angry jerk who can't let little things go, well, I'll take that risk, and hope that I can make up for it with more positive contributions elsewhere. If not, well, just another person wrong on the Internet, eh?
posted by tonycpsu at 4:44 PM on December 26, 2014


Ok, so I was in college in the mid 90s and in one of my (many) regrettable moments from the past called a fellow student 'neckbeard' based solely on his facial hair. I never actually got to know his real name, but I do know that many people (including me, unfortunately) called him 'neckbeard' pejoratively because of the fact that he had an actual beard on his neck and only spotty facial hair on his chin and cheeks.

So, I think that this was probably prior to the idea of the 'neckbeard' being an IT know-it-all misogynist, but I still don't like it because I definitely know that the word has been used hurtfully towards people based on their physical characteristics.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:45 PM on December 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Do we equally "need" a counterpart slur for slovenly nerdy women?

I prefer "coffee-stained-shirt person", in reference to myself.
posted by jb at 6:56 PM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have literally never seen the term referred to as disparaging someone's facial hair, and I'm genuinely astonished that anyone has.

Hello there. I am that person. I have only seen this referenced on TLo and it is aimed at male actors on the red carpet to promote their latest mega-budget film and who are insufficiently groomed whilst wearing expensive donated designer suits. Obviously I hang out in a different quadrant of the internet.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:00 PM on December 26, 2014


Let's all pretend neckbeard is a corruption of dickbird, and leave it at that.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:54 PM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


As a proud member of half of the population that sports a dick, I find your lack of empathy disturbing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:32 AM on December 27, 2014




"Uh, it's not the same thing as "thug" at all, dude."

A close reading would, oh hell who am I kidding? Let me write s l o w l y. Sometimes people use language to signal that they are a part of the group. Sometimes, simultaneously they use language to outgroup. "Sealioning" has been around for a couple of weeks on the internet, the ideas behind "Sealioning" have been around for as long as there have been people communicating.

Are you really suggesting that "sealioning" is a new concept? It seems to me to be the new Twitter shorthand.
posted by vapidave at 6:24 AM on December 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Let me write s l o w l y.

Has that sort of thing ever worked for you?
posted by maxsparber at 6:53 AM on December 27, 2014 [14 favorites]


> Are you really suggesting that "sealioning" is a new concept? It seems to me to be the new Twitter shorthand.

Where did you get that from my comment? Likening "sealioning" to "thug" was asinine, as was your followup. I'm not going to unpack it for you.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 7:14 AM on December 27, 2014


Hey max, chill dude, not wise to mess with a clown er. (Runs)
posted by clavdivs at 8:18 AM on December 27, 2014


"Likening "sealioning" to "thug" was asinine, as was your followup. I'm not going to unpack it for you." Unpack, heh. Sealions don't have suitcases as far as I know.

"It's just the latest dogwhistle from the left similar to how "thug" has for some time been a dogwhistle denoting young black men." I likened it to another dog-whistle. You understand the difference that a sealion is a mammal which lives in the sea and [and is not a lion] the concept of "sealioning" comes newly from a cartoon which couldn't possibly represent a new idea and "thug" has been used to denote black men, who mostly don't live in the sea.

I said that sealioning is a dogwhistle much as is thug.
posted by vapidave at 8:47 AM on December 27, 2014


I said that sealioning is a dogwhistle much as is thug.

At the bottom of a thread that started with multiple comments about whether we really need to draw equivalency with racial epithets.
posted by Etrigan at 8:53 AM on December 27, 2014 [7 favorites]




Stop trying to make muskoxing happen! It's not going to happen!
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 9:00 AM on December 27, 2014 [8 favorites]


what is it a dogwhistle for, vapid
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:12 AM on December 27, 2014


Musk ox, apparently
posted by flabdablet at 9:15 AM on December 27, 2014


I hear folks on the not wanting to bag on people for physical characteristics, but on the other hand I've been a neckbeard, a lot of my friends are neckbeards, and the definition I grew up with was the proverbial condescending UNIX sysadmin. I think a lot of the associations with misogyny there are coincidental; the tech fiefdoms of old were full of sexism that kept women out and allowed male supremacy through absence of women. I do think the parallel to "hipster" is apt, in that most people who use "hipster" derogatorily would be considered hipsters by someone else and it generally aligns with "more of a shallow, twee trend-follower than I am," (or "cool to the point of assholery') similar to how I tend to think that "neckbeard" is mostly used by nerds to describe someone unacceptably nerdier, or nerdier to the point of assholery.
posted by klangklangston at 9:42 AM on December 27, 2014 [8 favorites]


I used it yesterday. in a thread. I heard it for the first time last week when Wil Wheaton was on @Midnight sporting one. Husbunny said, "hey! He has a neckbeard!" I said, "what the hell is that?" Husbunny replied, "You know, when a guy grows a beard on his neck to hide his double-chin." Ah!

Then I heard it a bunch more times. I thought, cool, new word. So I've been using it.

It's funny, it paints a quick picture and dang it, I need derogatory words to describe people. Specific people and their specific, objectionable behaviors. Like wearing beards to hide double-chins.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:09 AM on December 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is it just me, or is very easy to do a dead on version of word up ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:38 AM on December 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Make moar sense
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 10:42 AM on December 27, 2014


the definition I grew up with was the proverbial condescending UNIX sysadmin.

Yeah, even in the nerdiest corners of my favorite video game fandom forums, "neckbeard" is used by other nerds to denote some aggressively pedantic 2otaku4u jerkweed. The image of having a neck upon which a beard grows has become wholly detached from the word in those parts.

Now, referring to these same people as "autists" or "sperglords" is what rubs me the wrong way. I have a child on the spectrum, and don't much care to see the condition used as shorthand for being an asshole. Especially with the social challenges she already faces. I don't think having a literal neckbeard remotely scales to the degree of social prejudice the autistic face.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:08 AM on December 27, 2014 [8 favorites]


If you want to call someone a smug asshole, call them a smug asshole. Calling them a neckbeard instead means you think they're something worse -- they're fat, ugly, unattractive, not socially adept. As if tall handsome athletic men have somewhat legitimate excuses for being entitled misogynists.

It's true that social misfits make for softer targets, but taking advantage of that robs you of some of the moral high ground.
posted by leopard at 11:23 AM on December 27, 2014 [10 favorites]


I need derogatory words to describe people. Specific people and their specific, objectionable behaviors. Like wearing beards to hide double-chins.

Maybe we could come up with a name for people who like to come up with derogatory names for people, if we don't like that behavior. Or (better yet) we could just not do that sort of thing at all.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:32 AM on December 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


Maybe we could come up with a name for people who like to come up with derogatory names for people, if we don't like that behavior. Or (better yet) we could just not do that sort of thing at all.

Oh gosh, this is just one of those things we're going to agree to disagree about because using colorful language and funny appellations makes writing funny.

I am perfectly comfortable calling someone who is growing a beard on his double chin a neckbeard. And it means only one thing, that he's growing a beard on his double chin.

And as for the name one would call a person such as I, who enjoys derogatory and hilarious names for people with obnoxious behaviors...Ruthless Bunny is taken.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:56 AM on December 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


I need derogatory words to describe people. Specific people and their specific, objectionable behaviors. Like wearing beards to hide double-chins.

If there's one thing the world needs, it's more derogatory words for overweight people.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:54 PM on December 27, 2014 [11 favorites]


The moment I saw that sealioning WonderMark cartoon I thought both "Hah! That is a perfect depiction of a really obnoxious class of behaviours" and "This is going to be used to shut down perfectly reasonable questions with ad hominem sealioning accusations in short order."
posted by pharm at 2:35 PM on December 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


Perfectly reasonable questions such as...
posted by tonycpsu at 2:38 PM on December 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I learned a lot of things in this thread. I never knew the UNIX nerd thing, I never would have guessed that neckbeards were the double-chin version of the comb-over, and I never had any association between neckbeards and obesity.

Anyway, I've never used the term before, and I guess I won't start now. And maybe the next time I feel the need to deride someone, I'll think twice about doing so with a pat expression and will instead take the time to compose a unique and situation-specific, ad hoc term of derision.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:59 PM on December 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


"If you want to call someone a smug asshole, call them a smug asshole. Calling them a neckbeard instead means you think they're something worse -- they're fat, ugly, unattractive, not socially adept. As if tall handsome athletic men have somewhat legitimate excuses for being entitled misogynists."

Not necessarily worse, but more specific. "Smug asshole" is fine for what it is, but it's not the same as "neckbeard." And I don't follow how dubbing something neckbeardery would imply that conventionally attractive men have legitimate excuses for being entitled misogynists. That seems like rather a leap.

"I am perfectly comfortable calling someone who is growing a beard on his double chin a neckbeard. And it means only one thing, that he's growing a beard on his double chin. "

When I was a neckbeard, I was chubby, but I didn't have a double chin — I had an unfortunate experiment in facial hair. It did not overlap with when I had a ponytail, but I can also say that the ponytail was not a flattering look on me. Most of my neckbeard friends also aren't doing it to hide double chins. (I mean, having a full beard does strengthen my chin and jawline, but so what?) Most of my friends with literal neckbeards are great big dorks about a lot of stuff, and have mostly matured out of being dicks to n00bs about whatever they're experts in. I mean, they still organize animefests but they've stopped trying to vote out anyone who enjoys Miyazaki or Ranma 1/2.
posted by klangklangston at 3:24 PM on December 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I'll think twice about doing so with a pat expression and will instead take the time to compose a unique and situation-specific, ad hoc term of derision."

I think you'll find that people appreciate that you took the time to handcraft a term of derision just for them. It adds a special touch that you just don't get from store bought insults.
posted by MikeMc at 3:45 PM on December 27, 2014 [17 favorites]


I haven't read this thread and I have no desire to do so but I will offer a factoid that nobody cares about nor should they but my fantasy football league is called "Neckbeard" and it is named after the King of Neckbeards, Kyle Orton.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:51 PM on December 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think you'll find that people appreciate that you took the time to handcraft a term of derision just for them. It adds a special touch that you just don't get from store bought insults.

Thanks, I'll keep that in mind, you filthy artisanal invective warrior.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:01 PM on December 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


As someone who is into card gaming, video gaming, and other nerdly pursuits, "neckbeard" is a fantastic word for me to use to denigrate the parts of nerd culture that I don't like. Thankfully, this is usually for gamergatey-reasons and the like, so it's not something I'm going to toss around just because Pokemon isn't my thing or whatever. Neckbeards aren't mocked for their interest; they are shunned for being deeply unpleasant people. It's an important distinction.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:33 PM on December 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


> filthy artisanal invective warrior

Someone should go ahead and register that username.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 4:34 PM on December 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


I shave my neck. Are you including me in with them, or them in with me?

How about assholes? Every has one, but not everyone is one. You'll have to pry my metaphors our of my cold, dead fingers, but you may have the similes for free, if that's what yanks your chain.

Okay, don't get me started on Yanks v yanks. I'm just saying.
posted by mule98J at 4:52 PM on December 27, 2014


The neckbeards are in charge and hold all the power.

I can't say I've met an actual neckbeard, although I've met many people who love programing computers and love UNIX who can't understand why spending hours debugging a LaTeX document isn't a spiritually rewarding experience, one of the them actually looked like the "lone gunman" from the X-files with the long stringy blond hair, who coincidentally happens to look a lot like J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr., who is definitely not a neckbeard although he sometimes has a beard.

Either way, I don't get the impression that people who sincerely deeply love programing computers or configuring UNIX-based server platforms in an obsessive way that leaves them myopic to concerns of ordinary 'users' are actually in charge or hold much power... in fact they seem to have been marginalized because they have too much love for their machines and not enough love for money or power.

Either way I am not drunk enough to fully appreciate this MeTa, but I'm trying... as an often annoying person, I often appreciate neckbeards however as fellow annoying people.

good night.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:24 PM on December 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think you have to be an asshole to be a neckbeard. You can love debugging LaTeX docs and have long stringy hair and a neckbeard, but if you're not an asshole, you're not a neckbeard.

Not everyone agrees on who is an asshole. But variety is the spice of life.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:44 PM on December 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I thought neckbeard had something to do with a pirate. Guess not. On the bright side, I'm learning something new everyday here!
posted by discopolo at 3:32 PM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Blackbeard had lit candles in his beard. Points for practicality and style.
posted by clavdivs at 3:45 PM on December 28, 2014 [5 favorites]




top of this thread, thank you for not erasing my identity as a woman who occasionally has sported a neckbeard
posted by thug unicorn at 12:58 AM on December 29, 2014


barbarossa had a red neck
posted by Namlit at 4:36 AM on December 29, 2014


I spent Boxing Day watching soccer and because there are very few advertisers for NBCSports in the morning, I was subject to this version of a neckbeard 1000 times. He hits all the marks - beard on his neck, butts into a conversation, jerky better-than-thou attitude, and a love of fondue.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:36 AM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


A love of fondue is something we are disparaging now?
posted by malocchio at 6:46 AM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


To be fair, hardly anyone every accused any pirate, especially Blackbeard, of aggressive condescending pedantry. Aggressively descending cutlasses, yes, but that's kind of a different issue.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:15 AM on December 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


"ARRR EXCUSE ME BUT DO YE HAVE ANY EVIDENCE TO BACK UP YER CLAIMS THAT PIRATES ARE BAD PEOPLE YAR"
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:19 AM on December 29, 2014 [15 favorites]


Pirates are more "lions of the sea..."
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:22 AM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


To be fair, hardly anyone every accused any pirate, especially Blackbeard, of aggressive condescending pedantry. Aggressively descending cutlasses, yes, but that's kind of a different issue.

tell me, matey, what I got at yer throat - a cutlass, or a scimitarrr
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:30 AM on December 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


(Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates: but my fantasy football league is called "Neckbeard" and it is named after the King of Neckbeards, Kyle Orton.

NEVER FORGET
posted by tonycpsu at 9:20 AM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Of course, as a Philly fan, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Koy Detmer was there first.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:28 PM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just want to say that Kyle Orton clearly went to a very good PR firm, with the single question of, "How can I look the most like someone named 'Kyle Orton' as possible, such that even a man blind from birth would have the perfect mental image of me just from hearing my name?" And then he took every order without question. Not a lot of players put in that effort anymore.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:13 PM on December 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


This reminded me that I need to shave when I get home. Getting too prickly.
posted by mrbill at 3:28 PM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think you'll find that people appreciate that you took the time to handcraft a term of derision just for them. It adds a special touch that you just don't get from store bought insults.

Can we call this 'Martha Stewarting'?
posted by rock swoon has no past at 9:50 PM on December 29, 2014


Or those prickly little fucking goatees JUST STARING at the clock on the wall.

Garden gnome beheadings
Surf/ Turf, a pirate bay.
Shelving books with grandma.

These are base materia for the home kit insult generator.
But we CANNOT bring them to class, the other child may kwhy.
posted by clavdivs at 11:30 PM on December 29, 2014


Stepped out of this thread as it had seemed to come to a conclusion.

Fuck, I've been accused of sea-lioning this whole site? Seriously? Fuck off. (see what I did there, decidedly not fucking polite, sea lioning is polite, right?). Goddamned it.

Look, metatalk is here to talk about community norms, right? That's what I did in opening this up.

In my mind, the comparison to other slurs seemed appropriate because often times those slurs are precursors to violence. My experiences being called names on the schoolyard were precursors to violence. Violence that was enabled by covered up by the school staff, administrators, and was quite systematic (ie: some kids were very simply allowed to be bullied). If adults today committed those same acts (and I had evidence), they'd be in jail for assault. I may not be an oppressed class, but I grew in terror, I feared going to school each day (and coming home as well, but that's a different story).

I know the saying is 'punch up, not down', but how about not punching at all, is that an option, can we do that? Instead of calling people names, can we critique their words and behaviors?
posted by el io at 5:32 AM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


People use shorthand terms to describe specific behavior sets all the time. It is not "punching" as a response to said behavior (i.e. aggressive pedantry and condescension) and this false equivalence to other forms of oppression, such as playground bullying, is tedious and confused at best.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:23 AM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ah yes, the "fuck off" paired with calls for more civility. That always goes over well.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:26 AM on December 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


as it happens, i was just reading laurie penny discuss how bullying is different than structural oppression.
posted by nadawi at 6:47 AM on December 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


I may not be an oppressed class, but I grew in terror, I feared going to school each day (and coming home as well, but that's a different story).


So did I, mind you I actually did something about it rather than using it as leverage to get people on a website to give me my own way.

Maybe i'm just not that manipulative.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:06 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm late to this party but I wanted to chime in to say that I am 100% down for metatalk posts being put on hiatus for *holiday reasons* such that the mods don't have to deal with, as I saw it put upthread, 'impending doom' feelings.

Seriously, all but the most egregious posts could wait or have a pause button placed on them around major holidays and I'd not mind one bit.

No offense to the OP, just a thought.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:26 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Meta posts already have to be approved by the mods.
posted by desjardins at 7:36 AM on December 30, 2014


'Fuck off' is definitely more confronting than a silly name. In any case, I thought we were critiquing your words?
posted by h00py at 8:06 AM on December 30, 2014


Right, but is there a standing policy of only letting more serious ones through when near a holiday? Regardless, didn't want to continue a derail, just my 2 cents.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:09 AM on December 30, 2014


"Fuck off" is more of a blindly thrown elbow than a punch, anyway.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 8:37 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just don't see calling a guy with a neckbeard a neckbeard as an inflammatory statement. I also refuse to be censored in my hilarious and witty commentary by someone with a very personal ax to grind.

I'm sorry you were bullied in school. I think you should consider the intent and context of the discourse. Not all funny appellations are preludes to violence.

It's very clear that you have special needs in a community and as on-line communities go, Metafilter is very civil, it's apparently not civil enough for you. Are there occasionally kerfluffles? Of course, it's a gathering of humans on the internet. I'd say though, that 94% of the time, we're all just trying to be funny, not be aggressive or nasty.

You threw the idea out there, and 400+ comments later, I'd say that most of us agree that Neckbeard just isn't the slur you believe it to be.

A gracious person would accede and say, "Oh well, I disagree, but since the majority of commenters don't feel the same way, and moreover, don't see the word the same way I do, I guess I have to decide if this is something I can live with, or I need to find a different site."

As for me, I'll continue to calls them as I sees them.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:47 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


The mods won't delete comments with "neckbeard" in them as they would delete comments with the actual N word in them. It's just not as bad a word as that. Moreover, the word isn't used frequently here, and when it is used, the site already has mechanisms in place to remove personal attacks, if it's used as a personal attack. This thread can serve as a heads-up to people that some people find "neckbeard" deeply insulting, but I don't see what more can be accomplished by resuming the serious discussion which had pretty much ended by last night.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:58 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


> As for me, I'll continue to calls them as I sees them.

Sometimes when we revel in our wit we smell like farts.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:02 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry you were bullied. It's a really terrible thing to live in fear. You must feel like that experience is being downplayed or mocked. It must be hurtful. I don't think it's a terrible thing to ask people not to use a word that brings that feeling of powerlessness and fear flooding back to you. I disagree that it's on the same level as a racial slur, but it's not some kind of amazing word worth defending, IMO, especially since it does carry an element of dismissal based on looks, fatness, etc. So I will continue not to use it. Happily, it doesn't seem to be in common use on the site.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:27 AM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


I disagree that it's on the same level as a racial slur, but it's not some kind of amazing word worth defending, IMO, especially since it does carry an element of dismissal based on looks, fatness, etc. So I will continue not to use it. Happily, it doesn't seem to be in common use on the site.

I agree with this. For the record, I think Ruthless Bunny's comment is kind of callous: "Neckbeard" isn't an inherently funny word conferring hilarity and wit on whoever uses it, nor does its joking use necessarily excuse the hurt it may cause, and a person who thought it was inherently funny would be a lousy poster even in Helldump, where mocking goons for looking, acting, and writing like goons was the whole point.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:37 AM on December 30, 2014


I can admire that Ruthless Bunny is trying to defend the line on not kowtowing to people being overly offended. A limitation on free speech that has non-hostile intent can be equally offensive, if not more-so, and limit creative expression. I get that side of the discussion.

What I've grappled with for a long time now, and I'm much more sensitive to it for some reason as I get older, is that once I know a term causes a person some kind of pain because they were degraded with it, I am more apt to not defend using it just for personally beneficial reasons (humor, fewer words to explain a concept, etc.). That feels selfish to me and overly dismissive. If I think that a person is being honest in their lived experience with a particular term and are not simply jumping on the "let's all get offended" bandwagon, I (personally) can't justify the use of a word knowing that it's causing pain. Maybe in a different location, but not intentionally where that particular person is present.

It is true that this is a community where tension sometimes happens. I see that as a reason to be more sensitive to how words are received, even to those who are in the minority. If I take my immediate family as an example, I cannot imagine using a term in the house that a bully used against my wife or daughter in a derogatory way, even if the contexts are different. I try to extend the same courtesy to other people, as much as I can, when in an interactive community environment. As such, el io, and others here with similar experiences, are members of our house.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:11 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Someone could use literally any word to bully someone and we have to balance that with our ability to communicate. This is a different balance here than it would be on a smaller site. I also participate on a site where there are a few regular users who are afraid of horses* and people there avoid talking about horses. That kind of policy makes much more sense on a smaller site. So I'm afraid that the approach that you take, SpacemanStix, does not seem like it would scale well on this site and we might decide that it's okay to use certain words that are not used often to bully and that also have high communicative value.


*not really, but they do have a common phobia of an innocuous object
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:07 AM on December 30, 2014


And what are you supposed to do when someone is offending you with their bearded double chin?

@esthermaschine: "As Foucault has it, the soul is the prison of the body because the soul - the identity - is what is scrutinised, controlled, & punished. Identity, the inner self, is the first and last thing others will try to destroy in their indifference towards your humanity."
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:55 AM on December 30, 2014


'Fuck off' is definitely more confronting than a silly name. In any case, I thought we were critiquing your words?

Yeah, sorry for that... It was inappropriate of me. I got pretty angered when I read that I was accused of sea-lioning... A term I've only heard in the context of gamer-gate to describe tactics of folks that were responsible for death-threats and rape-threats; it truly upset me to be lumped in with those folks and to be accused of using their tactics (or worse, being one of them). I probably shouldn't comment on emotionally charged issues right before going to bed either (or when I'm sleepy anyways); I don't mean that as an excuse, just an added bit of poor judgement on my part.

You threw the idea out there, and 400+ comments later, I'd say that most of us agree that Neckbeard just isn't the slur you believe it to be.

Some do, some don't. A bunch of folks seem to realize that maybe not using insults that are based on physical appearance ('fat', 'slovenly', facial hair), another group of folks will continue to use the word as they wish.

I didn't expect a 100% consensus on the matter.

I'll acknowledge I'm probably oversensitive to attacks I see as essentially making fun of nerds. I'll do my best to ignore or be dismissive of things I perceive as such on the blue in the future, and I appreciate that a bunch of folks are more sensitive to insults that may be triggering (I hadn't thought of it as such until the matter was brought up, given my emotional response to it, that's probably the closest word I can think of to describe it).

As more holiday festivities are coming up for folks (mods included), I'd be happy to let this thread close - I don't want the mods to have to monitor this thread more as they are preparing for New Years Eves activities.
posted by el io at 1:00 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


To (maybe) close on a positive note:

Uses of the word "neckbeard" on the blue since this post went up: 0 (zero)

Amor Vincit Omnia, amirite?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:10 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


"My experiences being called names on the schoolyard were precursors to violence."

How many kids have neckbeards?
posted by klangklangston at 2:15 PM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


The early onset pubescent ones who would stomp your ass.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 2:16 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'll acknowledge I'm probably oversensitive to attacks I see as essentially making fun of nerds. I'll do my best to ignore or be dismissive of things I perceive as such on the blue in the future, and I appreciate that a bunch of folks are more sensitive to insults that may be triggering (I hadn't thought of it as such until the matter was brought up, given my emotional response to it, that's probably the closest word I can think of to describe it).

I think it's big of you to say this. We all have things that bother us perhaps out of proportion to what might seem "normal" to someone else; it's not always easy to see exactly what those are. Happy New Year!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:21 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Someone could use literally any word to bully someone and we have to balance that with our ability to communicate. This is a different balance here than it would be on a smaller site. I also participate on a site where there are a few regular users who are afraid of horses* and people there avoid talking about horses. That kind of policy makes much more sense on a smaller site. So I'm afraid that the approach that you take, SpacemanStix, does not seem like it would scale well on this site and we might decide that it's okay to use certain words that are not used often to bully and that also have high communicative value.

I realize this is absolutely true. And in looking back on my comment, I'm not sure if we have anyone here who was saying that they were personally hurt by that specific term term (I'm sorry, Ruthless, if I implied that you were holding out for the right to say someone hurtful, as I'm not sure that was fair to the spirit of what you were saying). We can't scale stuff like that, and we should be in the place of legislating what we say as little as possible, regardless of whether someone might have their feelings hurt; it should be an individual choice at the end of the day, not site policy. However, speaking for myself, I really like it when people adopt a "no name calling" policy for themselves (or at least one that doesn't marginalize people for a personal benefit), I think more of them, and I enjoy conversing more with them. I think it makes for a healthier community dynamic, especially if we know that those names, which some people seem to take in stride, are potentially painful to others. Freely chosen values of kindness to others, I think, are worth encouraging other to consider, not mandate.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:34 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sarge has a photonic dirk.
Little grinch needs a shave.


Wines school Klang, bring your +4 sling shot.
posted by clavdivs at 6:40 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am familiar with all those words?
posted by misha at 8:26 PM on December 31, 2014


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