Johan wrote this
@ 2024-06-11

Being a dick

My social media has taken a hard turn for the nerdier since Twitter shut down and everyone with a modicum of moral fibre stopped posting there. So even though I’m not really a Linux developer, I was recently exposed to the drama around Hyprland and its maintainer.

The dude’s a dick, no two ways about it. It shines through clearly in the blog post he wrote the last time people called him out. Here’s what he has to say about slurs:

Growing up in the internet of mostly the 2010s, everyone would be calling each other “retards” online, and that would be regarded as one of the lightest things you’d call people when mad. At least in the spaces I was hanging out, nobody would care, even people who would have actual diseases, or were on the receiving end of a slur targeted precisely at a group they were a member of. Hell, I was too.

I definitely am not a fan of how seemingly weak people online, especially teenagers, have become. Words are just words. Someone calling another person a “retard” shouldn’t really be a big deal. Obviously, when repeated 100 times it can be annoying, but then it’s no longer about the word itself, it’s targeted bullying.

Not an uncommon view, particularly around boomers and libertarian types. Suck it up, buttercup! We’re in the real world now, nobody cares about your fee-fees. Depressingly but predictably, DHH has been riding that same bandwagon lately:

It’s also depressing. That this is what’s become of the modern American childhood experience in so many places. The almost fully eroded sense of childhood independence, with its moderate dangers and teaching moments. Replaced with cotton-ball cocoons to keep kids from dealing with even the most minor of setbacks themselves. Lest accusations start flying of how somebody, somewhere OUGHT TO HAVE DONE SOMETHING.

Core to this belief is the idea that “people” (or perhaps “kids” depending on which discussion we’re having) are getting soft. They take offense too easily, they’re fearful and fragile, and it’s because we’re being too gentle with them, we’re not exposing them to the cold hard realities of the world. We just aren’t being mean enough to them and that’s stunting everyone’s growth.

Come on, bro, it’s just light-hearted fun

I was born in the seventies. The Swedish school system throughout the 80s and 90s was an endless cavalcade of people calling each other faggot, whore, retard, and worse (bög, hora, mongo, CP, the list goes on.) That was just a fact of life! It could be used as friendly banter among friends, as insults hurled at someone you didn’t like, or simply used as emphasis (“det här är CP-svårt” or “han fick bögstryk” because Swedish is a fun and easy language when it comes to that sort of thing.)

I don’t think that hurt me at all. Like Vaxry says, they’re just words. Their effect is not constant or objectively measurable, it’s something that happens inside your mind and that’s actually mostly within your own control. Being able to moderate your reactions to life happening to you is a good skill to have, even if it’s hard and needs to be practiced your entire life. Cars and houses will break down, loved ones will get sick, big life decisions will go wrong—stuff will happen to you whether you like it or not, and standing strong in the face of that will be important. I don’t think that’s controversial.

But did those slurs help with that?

Did it make us Xennials stronger?

Nope. All it did was make me that much more likely to unintenionally hurt someone else, while simultaneously helping reduce real, actual people into society-wide pejoratives. If anyone’s being coddled and unaware, it’s the people still using these slurs or pining for the time when they were free to use them: all it takes is one gay friend who doesn’t want to be called a faggot to make you see how hurtful and unnecessary it is. And it really shouldn’t take much empathy to extend that nugget of wisdom to retard, whore, and the rest of that rogues’ gallery.

And hey: if you have no gay friends, if you don’t know any parents with a disabled kid, then who’s really in that cotton-ball cocoon?

Kids these days

I have my own private beliefs, of course. I actually agree that schools—at least here in Sweden—are often unnecessarily upgrading simple playground scuffles to call-the-parents type situations, and that’s probably not helping anyone. I don’t think it’s possible to get children to stop using bad words, either: you can perhaps get to “won’t swear in your direct vicinity” if you’re strict enough, but that’ll just skew punishment towards the kids who are bad at hiding their emotions. You have to be nuanced in your approach, and it’s a hard balance to get right.


The vast majority of people, children or otherwise, just aren’t these easily-triggered snowflakes who run and hide at the first sight of adversity. You have to actually hunt for that type of behavior in order to find it: it’s something you have to want to see in order for the effect to show up. Gay people are being beaten up and murdered every day with nobody reporting on it, while every single instance of someone walking up to a professor and being “triggered” has been quickly snatched up and reported to absolute death by the ever-present modern outrage industry because the story is just too good to pass up. If you’ve fallen for that… well, again, I have to ask: who has the soft and overprotected mind here? Who’s too quick to take offense?

Please don’t be a dick. Don’t be cruel, don’t be unnecessarily mean, don’t take pride in the fact that you can “take it and dish it out.” It helps no one, it makes nobody stronger, it just makes everybody a little worse for wear.