Success Is A Fuckboi

I mused on success recently, and while doing so I had a thought. Success is often personified as a woman, fickle and choosy, mysterious and aloof, other feminine words and synonyms, but I don’t know about all that. Women are only “mysterious” because when we don’t want the thing that men think we should want, they quickly throw up their hands and deem us complicated and irrational, as if we’re actual people or something. So then anything difficult and baffling gets clothed in a slinky black dress, stilettos, and a wink.

Instead of a pearl-adorned, sultry demoness, I, as my post title has already revealed so this isn’t shocking but I needed this sentence to be longer stylistically, like to think of success as a fuckboi.

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There are a number of ways to spell it, but I find “fuckboi” to be the most charming because it really encompasses the meaning of the term: childish, a product of the internet era, and visually both displeasing and appropriate. Fuckbois are the masculine answer, I believe, to thots, and if that doesn’t mean anything to you then we are not exactly in the same boat, but we’re probably rowing adjacent to one another in the ocean that is rapidly evolving internet linguistics.

A fuckboi, as far as I understand, is a boy–specifically not a man by action but likely by legal age–who fucks you, literally and figuratively. He is a “tease” and a “slut” but with a penis (so of course we have to come up with a new term for him), and he also seems to be particularly astute at manipulation with a specialty in gaslighting. A school of naive or historically abused heterosexual women are drawn to the fuckboi despite how poorly he treats everyone else in his life, likely because the fuckboi is often attractive and suffering (see: profiting) from some form of cluster B personality disorder so can reign in his shittier characteristics long enough to convince a sexual conquest that he is “really a nice guy underneath it all” at least long enough to “hit it an quit it,” often multiple times.

Okay, got it? Well, if not, we’re moving on anyway. So I find success similar to the fuckboi, at least in my success-less current state, but having had a few minor highs in the views and likes departments recently (and having one bad experience with a dude who was a fuckboi in every way but looks and name about a decade ago). Both are attractive, especially from afar and in photos. Success has a hard jaw, spends a descent amount of time in the gym, and an impressive “I tried really hard to not look like I’m trying hard” sense of fashion. When he gets a bit closer you might see him stiff a waiter or not hold the elevator for someone clearly running for it, but you excuse those behaviors because god damn, Natalie, have you seen that fucking smirk?

You hear a lot of stuff about Success, how maybe he’s not worth it, he’s had a lot of partners and they didn’t really work out, but your internalized misogyny comes crawling up from the nastier parts of your soul, and you think, “jealousy is a hell of a drug, bitches!” and you put yourself out there. You might even change yourself a little to be more attractive to him. I mean, it’s just a Brazilian blow out, why can’t I reinvent myself, Natalie? God, don’t be so judgmental, you don’t understand how hard it is to maintain curls in this kind of humidity, okay!?

When Success texts you for the first time your heart beats so hard you’re sure he can hear it through the phone even though text messages don’t have sound and no one actually calls anyone else in this economic climate. (I haven’t dated in a long fucking time, so Success probably actually sends you a message on Tinder, but just roll with me okay?) Success isn’t really that funny, but you laugh at his jokes, and he’s not that clever, but you’re willing to dumb yourself down a little for him because God and 8% body fat gave him an inguinal crease to die for, and his profile picture is just a bare torso so it’s not like you can avoid it, Natalie, I mean it’s right there.

But Success is flippant and enigmatic. Everything he says is up for interpretation, and even though the strong, independent woman that you know you are (because Natalie keeps texting you the Venus symbol emoji) is sure you shouldn’t be trying to please him, you find yourself doing things you never thought you would for a boy. Your Instagram feed is somehow both a little racier and also a little more self-loathing than normal, and you get crankier with the other people in your life so when they balk at you, you label them toxic and cut them out. Your normal meter is broken, but you can’t recognize it in all those pieces under Success’s Adidas.

But it all seems worth it when you get a taste of Success (I am so sorry for that image). He’s calling you “babygirl” and “love” and blowing up your phone with so many notifications that you missed when Natalie’s dog had to get surgery because his stomach was actually where all her missing socks were going. You’ve seen what Success can do and you want more, everything else be damned.

Then…it all stops. You don’t want to seem desperate, and frankly neither of you declared yourselves monogamous or that you were in a relationship at all but you’re still you, and you want answers. Looking back at it, Success never really commented on your posts publicly, and his relationship status was already “It’s Complicated” before you even met, but you’ve got proof of something somewhere, don’t you? Are your feelings worth nothing? Success continues to allude you, and when you call him out, he tells you that you’re the crazy one, you’re making this out to be so much more than it was, and you’re not even really that hot, so he was doing you a favor that one time you asked him to come over at 1:00am to “help explain Rick and Morty to you.” And by the way, that photo you posted of yourself on the beach last week isn’t super flattering and you should probably untag him from it.

Now truly alone, you call up Natalie, but she’s too busy with Max the hosiery hound for your inevitable bullshit, so you turn to vaguebooking, quoting song lyrics from when you were a sad-sack teenager, and stalking Success’s social media for a glimmer that maybe he misses you too. Spoiler alert: SUCCESS DON’T MISS NOBODY. (Until it’s convenient for him, but he doesn’t mean it.)

And that’s the clutch, guys. Success really doesn’t miss anyone because it doesn’t need anyone, least of all you or me. Pandering to success long term probably won’t work out, but maybe it’s okay to try because it can be fun and even rewarding if you’re an egotistical fuckhead *clears throat and puts down front-facing camera* Sorry, what were we talking about?

Maybe this analogy isn’t fair because success doesn’t really make choices, that’s the masses (and those controlling mass media to some point, but this isn’t the place for conspiracy theories), but it’s probably as fair as calling success a pretty lady that won’t give you the time of day. The only truth is that success is fickle, but maybe someday if you love yourself enough, you’ll be able to nail down something that suits you better and loves you back. Or something equally mushy and gross.

Also, listen to Natalie every once and a while, okay?

 

Normally I don’t credit the photos I use because I get them from Pexels with specifically no attribution required licenses, but because I’m using this guy’s photo in what can be seen as a negative light, I’d like to say explicitly that I’m not commenting on the subject or the photographer of this photo being an actual Fuckboi™ and would like to credit him. Go give R Fera some love.

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The Sportball We

I love language. The trivialities of linguistics, the odd words we use, how simple semantics can change entire meanings, dialects, colloquialisms: it’s all awesome (except, I admit, there are some accents that I hate, but that’s a whole other thing). English is remarkably complex and word-wealthy, borrowing from so many other languages and spreading across the whole globe, that there are practically no rules in English that aren’t at some point broken yet still considered correct, and just when you think “okay, this thing is a rule and there’s only this one exception”–BAM something else hits you in the face!

But I think I’ve come across something wholly unique in the English language, and I am fucking pumped. I have come to affectionately deem it “The Sportball We,” and, Dear Reader, I would love to explain, especially since it’s about to be the Super Bowl.

The Sportball We is something that we all are familiar with, but it hides in plain sight (hearing?), and you’ve probably never given it a second thought. Let me be clear: this is not a rant. I don’t care that people do this; I just find it fucking fascinating. What I am calling The Sportball We is the phenomenon that occurs when a person speaks about a sports team as if they are part of that team despite it being understood by everyone that they are, in fact, not a player of or other peripheral teammate to, that team. Example:

Did you see the Lightning game last night?

Yeah, we really crushed the Canucks!

or

Do you think we’ll make it to the Super Bowl this year?

or

Are you guys getting a new head coach?

Those second two examples are especially interesting since they can be said utilizing The Sportball We as a total replacement for the team name if all the speakers in a conversation know which team the answerer is “part of.”

What is most fascinating about this to me is sports are the only activity or organization that the speaker is not actually a part of yet speaks as if they are. When I tried to find other examples, my mind immediately went to religion and houses of worship. People say “we” when discussing their congregation or religion; however, they actually are part of these things. People are Christians or people belong to and attend a mosque. Sportball We-ers don’t take an active part in the game in the way a Jewish person might actively celebrate Passover, but SBWs do, in some way, take a passive role in sports by being fans.

So I thought, okay, what are other things of which people are fans? Music, of course. But do Beyonce’s fans leave a concert declaring “We totally slayed it on stage!” or ask one another if they’ve seen our new video yet? I don’t think so. Sometimes people refer to a fandom as a whole that they are part of, but that’s the thing: you are part of a fandom as you can take an active role cultivating it, but you’re not part of the band or musician, and music fans have a distinction in their speech that SBWs do not.

The same can be said for people who say “we” about their hometown or their alma mater. Though they might not live there or attend that school anymore, they did at one time, took an active part in living there, and would still be considered a representative of those peoples.

The only thing that seems to come close is when men say “we’re pregnant.” Your buddy Bob at the office is hauling around a fetus and vomiting his guts out as much as he’s tackling Tom Brady on the 30, but at least he actually (probably) had a hand in making it possible for a fetus to eventually exist, and in that way we can kind of parallel conception to being a dedicated sports fan who “helps” their team win. However, there are a lot of people who find the “pregnant we” weird, and almost no one who thinks The Sportball We is bizarre.

In fact, I never thought The Sportball We was weird until I started working in a male-dominated department where sports were discussed in numbers equitable to how children were discussed in my previously female-dominated department, so the language was constantly in my ear. It’s just a part of American culture and language, and that’s kind of cool. There is, of course, a lot that could be said sociologically about patriotism and sports fanaticism, but I’ll leave that to someone else for now. Instead, we can all just marvel at the uniqueness that The Sportball We brings to English.

Also if you think you have another instance of a “we” used in a socially acceptable and understood instance despite the user having no actual, active participation in the activity or organization, leave a comment below, Dear Reader, and I’ll be happy to tell you why you’re wrong.

Figure of Speech: Paradiastole

My favorite euphemism was born one fine Sunday afternoon when a Jehovah’s Witness came proselytizing at our door. Husband answered, intending to politely explain we were already zealously devoted to the Dark Lord, when the good Witness spotted one of our cats, Bartholomew. When Husband saw the man’s eyes fall onto and then expand at the glorious sight he beheld, he waited, and, after a pause, the good Witness remarked, “My, he is plentiful.”

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Not named after the apostle, but does deserve a feast day.

Paradiastole utilizes euphemisms (you’re welcome for the two-fer FoS, by the way) to transform a negative into a positive, most frequently to recast a bad characteristic as a good one. While all paradiastole is a form of euphemism, all euphemism isn’t paradiastole. With any old euphemism, you’re replacing the offending word with a less harsh word without necessarily modifying the meaning (excusing the fact that all synonyms do carry at least very slight differences in meaning), but with paradiastole specifically, you’re purposely attempting to alter the listener’s perception of a word or concept by stating something is not what they think.

I feel like I probably use paradiastole in casual speech, typically when grasping desperately at some form of comedy.

“Ashley, are you sick? You don’t look so good.”
“Oh no, the red-nosed and eye-bagged look is so in right now. I’m not sick, I’m fashionable.”

or

“It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!” – So sayeth all the developers at work.

But while researching this figure of speech, I realized this sounds remarkably like the exact kind of rhetoric that scares me. It’s the kind typically used to maliciously convince people to do things that are not in their own or others’ best interests, and it’s used to mask hatred and xenophobia, giving people an out for their horrendous beliefs.

It allows people to say things like “Donald Trump isn’t racist or a misogynist, he just tells it like it is, he’s bold, and he speaks his mind.” Intolerance rebranded as a virtue.

Of course this use isn’t new, it’s existed as long as language has for sure, but we can look back to Quintillian and his work in 95 A.D. (yes, 2000 years ago, hang with me) for more explanation. In Institutio Oratoria in response to being questioned in a court of law regarding a thing you cannot possibly deny, he states one should:

restate the facts, but not at all in the same way; you must assign different causes, a different state of mind and a different motive for what was done…you must try to elevate the action as much as possible by the words you use: for example, prodigality must be more leniently redescribed as liberality, avarice as carefulness, negligence as simplicity of mind.

So yeah, one of the greatest rhetoricians in history is suggesting you “play dumb” in court, but beyond that he is admitting that paradiastole is not necessarily a genuine use of a synonym or even a reunderstanding of the concept in question. It goes beyond the basest use of rhetoric–to convince–and acknowledges paradiastole can be used essentially to lie.

This FoS isn’t always used maliciously. Sometimes you must convince someone of something that isn’t necessarily true. Or you think you must. I’m sure there are at least a few politicians who, even though they know they are lying, think they’re doing it for the greater good, and an argument can be made that intent is more meaningful than outcome.

Per Aristotle, “whenever one calls oneself wise rather than cunning, or courageous rather than overconfident, or careful rather than parsimonious” that’s paradiastole. And you could say that’s…fibbing, to “euphemize” it.

So when do we lose the actual meaning of the words used to usurp the truth? Just as Obama’s “change” became horrific to conservatives, making America “great” again has become synonymous with a joke for liberals (though I would argue one was true and one is not).

I love that language is always evolving–when a language stops changing and moving, like a shark, it dies–but like any good English major, I fear change in language a bit. I love certain words, and I hate the potential loss of them, especially when losing them hinges on some fucko wanting to kinda pretend to not be a dick. And like how pervasive truthiness is now (Stephen Colbert really called it, man), paradiastole is rendering a major change in communication as well.

So how can you use paradiastole in your writing? Well, do you have a character with a blaring personality disorder?