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The 7 Most Overused Words on the Internet

The Internet has made communication easier than ever before, increasing our understanding of other people and just how stupid it's possible for them to be while remaining able to work an "ON" button.

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"I just leave it on overnight to save two minutes in the morning. Ha, I out-stupided you!"

Internet comments are what would happen if Tron had sewers: mostly shit, but an essential service with this many people in one place, and sometimes you find something as awesome as ninja turtles.

From comments on this article
I love these people.

But digging through a steaming mound of comments is time consuming, which is why we've developed words that compress paragraphs of stupidity into a couple of syllables. These conversational zip files tell us everything we need to know about the commenter and let us skip the post, safe in the knowledge that we're proving our childhood lessons wrong and getting smarter by not reading something.

#7. "Um"

What They Think They're Saying

You're wrong in so many ways that even their throbbing brain must struggle to organize them all. Dealing with your idiocy has become the moon mission of Internet comments: Even this rocket surgeon must work to comprehend the scale of the project before triumphing over it for the good of all mankind. You're about to be schooled so hard that you'll end this comment with a Ph.D. and have to spend the rest of your life known as Dr. Dumbass.

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"Um, hello? Call of Duty is like totally better than Battlefags 3!"

What They're Actually Saying

Anyone trying to show off how smart they are succeeds, but not in the way they think. Thinking frequently goes wrong for them. Especially when they're using the most annoying noise in the English language. In real life, "um" is how people continue to make noise before their brains are ready. They can't bear the risk of anyone else speaking, so this caveman grunt announces "My incoherent gormlessness is more important than anything the rest of you could say." If they can't think of what to say, perfect! They've attained a vital self-truth and should keep their noise-vent shut until the situation changes. This verbal loading screen is the conversational equivalent of refusing to pass it to the right.

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"The longer I make noise, the more I win at this conversation!"

Online it's even worse. Posts aren't made in real time: They're not sent until they're ready, so this informationless noise is now silent and does less than nothing, achieving a paradox of pointless nothingness zen monks spend their lives working toward. Putting "um" in text is like putting wasp stings into toilet paper: Now it's pointless, even more annoying, and only used by assholes.

#6. "Meh"

What They Think They're Saying

YOU HAVE FAILED! Your only task was to amuse this elite viewer, and now -- like the emperor of the Colosseum -- the merest motion of their hand dismisses you in front of a baying crowd.

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"Psh, only three tigers? And he called them the next day?"

What They're Actually Saying

That you can ignore them forever. When someone can't be bothered to use more than three letters to convey their own opinion, it's because it's worthless. They've plumbed the depths of their soul in a world of infinite information and returned a 404 error.

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"Maybe if I spread a pointless waste of time to everyone else in the world, there'll be less of it in me!"

"Meh" is mindlessly egocentric hatred. They don't really care about what they're commenting on, but really think everyone else in the world wants to know that. It's an epidemic symptom of special snowflake syndrome: It doesn't matter that you're so apathetic that even your emotions can't be bothered to turn up for you, you're still important! It often precedes a patient explanation from a teenager at a keyboard that jumping a burning jet ski over three tanks is pretty good, he supposes, but a real pro would have done it in an open-crotch Speedo. Because every time someone comments "meh," a pointless dick has been added to the situation.

They managed to fail "If you can't think of anything nice to say, don't say anything" at the "think of anything" stage. Apathy is without question the worst mental state. Lunatic near-genocidal hatred put men on the moon. Lust led to some of the greatest artworks in history. Greed has driven more technology than gasoline (with an awful lot of overlap). Apathy is how you tell your parents they should have masturbated.

#5. "You, Sir"

What They Think They're Saying

While you may be wronger than the union of a lady and a mule, despite being the result of exactly that, they shall remain civil while destroying you.

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A moment while I don my admonishocle.

What They're Actually Saying

More asshole text than a proctology handbook. If words could wear fedoras, "You, sir" would have fitted them with frilly ruffles. They're all things that were cool a few advances in human society ago. People don't actually call each other "sir" anymore, unless they're being sarcastic or working for a business that hasn't investigated how human beings talk for several decades. Usually both. "You, sir" now reverses the polarity on "with all due respect" -- what follows will be blatant insults, but it's the asshole giving them instead of receiving them.

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"And they can only hit you half as much when you're wearing a monocle."

"You, sir" no longer implies an era of dignity where people remained civil because there was a real chance of being stabbed for rudeness. The Internet wouldn't survive under those conditions. We'd end up with a LAN so small, it would be faster to shout. "You, sir" now announces an idiot who's about to explain your mistakes while addressing you as an equal, and being wrong about both of those. When they add "for shame," they might as well write their point under a picture of themselves cavorting in a furred loincloth -- it's impossible to take them seriously, and only slightly less out of date.

#4. "Heh"

What They Think They're Saying

You fool! Your pathetic efforts have attracted the attention of the Lord of the Internet, and they amuse him not. Beyond merely wrong, you're so wrong and easily defeated that it would amuse this jaded Internet warrior if his years of copy-pasting image macros had left anything in this tired world that could move his iron heart.

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"Heh, Hawkings is trying to sound smart again. That's adorable."

What They're Actually Saying

Cheeto-colored neckbeard. That stereotype is stupid, lazy and hateful, which is why it's a perfect match for the phrase. It's the most powerful image encryption algorithm in existence, conveying a smirk that actually exerts a fifth fundamental force to attract punching fists from vast distances. The word "red" doesn't encode as much information in so few characters.

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Heh, you think you can take this on?

"Heh" works in chat clients, but in comments it's like unzipping your fly: OK with another person with context and the right atmosphere, but do it in front of everyone without warning and nothing good is about to be revealed. It condenses more smugness than Wall Street into an almost lethally superior syllable. "Heh" is the evil opposite of "LOL." "LOL" is an excitable puppy -- it's a bit stupid and it shits the place up, but at least it's genuinely enjoying itself. "Heh" is what hollow shells type when they've forgotten what actual laughter is like and are trying to fool the real humans before attacking them.

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"Awww, who makes uptight grammarians upset? You do! Yes you do!"

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Luke McKinney

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