On 'Butthurt'S

The wages of criticism on the internet is an uphill battle against endless counter-arguments made in bad faith. Bob Costas learned that on Sunday night. He responded to a gun-related murder-suicide with an appeal for gun control. Conservatives howled. You know who else liked gun control? Hitler. Gun control is bad, because anything Hitler favored is bad. Like freeways or crushing communism.

Sadly, Hitler references are almost overwrought at this point. There are analogies. They require books or History Channel episodes. The internet, meanwhile, evolves ever more efficient ways to marginalize arguments. This isn't new. A few years ago, Bob Costas would have only been "care- and real mad." But that's four words. Now he's just "butthurt." Goodbye, Mr. Costas.

Although it's by far the most offensive iteration, "butthurt" is just the latest in line of cop-out dismissals. If you've been wasting your time on the internet for more than a few years, you probably remember its ancestors.

U mad?

It's going to be famous forever, if only for Cam'ron's using it on The O'Reilly Factor in 2003 and spawning a legendary animated gif. You can use it a lot of ways, but the most basic one is, "You're mad, so I must be getting to you, and that means nobody can take you seriously." You win both because you score off the other person but also because he's no longer rational, so his argument is invalid. At that point, the only way for your opponent to win the confrontation is a race to prove who cares the least about the internet. One day, we will develop the ability to reduce the "you are care and mad" battle to two people uploading pics of themselves doing sad-semaphore kabuki. Until then, the whole gambit will always be sort of funny, because each person has to try to write fewer words than the other guy, and if the goal is to prove that neither one gives a shit about the internet, then why were they arguing to begin with?

U jelly?

Proving the other guy is mad only works so much, though. Anger is manly, and it can seem confident. Being angry can be reasonable sometimes. Jealousy, on the other hand, is weak and pathetic. Real men—real winners—don't get jealous; they just get what they want. Proving that someone is jealous proves three things. One, they are less satisfied and less important than you are—full of so much fail. Two, they're just as irrational as some guy blowing his stack, so you can also dismiss their arguments as an irrational emotional display. Three, serious levels of care detected.

It's easy to write this all off as merely stupid slapfights in article comment sections, but everybody does it. You can watch celebrities on Twitter shrug off criticism from other celebrities because they don't have as many followers. Tom Clancy once responded to a hilariously negative Christopher Buckley review with, "Sonny, when your paperback sales begin to approach my hardcover sales in, say, England, do let me know." Last year, I wrote a long criticism of a popular website that I thought was staffed by bozos, and an award-winning journalist spent about 15 minutes tweeting and sub-tweeting about how desperately I must have wanted to write for it. (I'm still not sure if he had any idea that he was, at best, proving my point when he bragged that he'd just been hired there and I never would be.)

You're butthurt.

Both "u mad?" and "u jelly?" are reductive and bad, but "butthurt" probably does more to signal the clanging approach of a moron than any other word short of "Ayn." Butthurt surpasses the others, because it can mean almost anything. Someone who's butthurt can be furious or whiny or victimized or petty or jealous or devoid of perspective. There's nothing you can't apply it to, so long as you want to signal a total lack of respect for the other side.

For example:

  • "Palestinian representatives outlined a list of butthurt to the UN last week, hoping for a UN Resolution on Palestinian Butthurt. The UN failed to tell them to get over it and just move to some other Arab country."
  • "President Franklin Delano Butthurt addressed the nation, claiming that December 7th, 1941 would 'live in infamy' just because America got its butt hurt by the Japanese."
  • "I'm sick and tired of the butthurt over at Jezebel from all their PC Meter Maids being afraid of men telling it like it is about how girls get themselves raped."

That's the other aspect of "butthurt" that makes a legitimately awful term. Because jealousy and anger are emotions; they spring naturally from our thoughts and feelings. There is no mode of argument, no state of grief, no kind of righteous anger that actually results in your butt hurting. No one suffering a breakup feels "butt ache" from listening to love songs on the radio.

There is, however, a pretty obvious cause of butthurt that everyone envisions when they try to think of its point of origin. It's called getting fucked in the ass.

Look, obviously many people don't intend that interpretation when they use the word. Doubtless, a lot of people recognize it simply as an effective term in the discourse that can be used to put someone down. Like kids with gay uncles or aunts who would never dream of wounding their family but nevertheless say, "Ugh, that is so gay," on the playground, butthurt is likely just a weapon in the arsenal of many people who've never stopped to think what it means.

That's unfortunate, but it's not an excuse. The imagery of forced humiliating sodomy (or at the most optimistic, a thorough ass-kicking) immediately conjures up pretty clear pictures of the victims, and those people are bitches. Bitches like women, who aren't as strong as men, who are subordinate to them because God or biology made them weak, who are meant to have things shoved in them, in areas around the butt. Bitches like male weaklings in prison populations, who can't fend off attackers with their fists and have to preserve their safety by being regularly sodomized at another's behest, who only get what they deserve as criminal subhumans anyway.

Hell, don't take my word for it. Read the #1 definition at UrbanDictionary, the boundless repository for every frat-bro neologism shit across the face of humanity. It starts out reasonably enough:

An inappropriately strong negative emotional response from a perceived personal insult. Characterized by strong feelings of shame. Frequently associated with a cessation of communication and overt hostility towards the "aggressor."

Look at that, all clinical and dispassionate—a seemingly objective codification of the irrationally whiny, flown-off-the-handle response of someone wrongly blaming an "aggressor." Someone who feels shame. Then it's followed by an example sentence: "Adam got butthurt when Mike stole his bitch." Ahahaha look at Adam and laugh. Adam is just making up stuff to be mad about, like someone taking his girlfriend. But that's what happens to Beta Males. They can't defend their stuff, even women, who should belong to them. Adam's a bigger bitch than the one getting railed right now by his ex-bro.

If you keep reading, other definitions tend to remove doubt about the most explicit intent of the word.

And, sure, maybe this is just a tendentious reading of the word. But if you really need to tell people on the internet that you can't engage an argument on its merits, you can just pull the "u mad?" card. If you need other people to know that your ability to empathize with someone else exists on a 12-year-old's conception of who is or isn't cool, there's always "u jelly?" Maybe you can use those instead and manage to avoid using a term that's little more than a currently mainstream-acceptable way of just calling someone else a "faggot."

Or not. Maybe I'm just being butthurt about "butthurt." Like a bitch.