A Cringy Response

Cringe is such a cringy word.

There’s something about today’s use of the the word “cringe” that annoys the hell outta me. For the longest time I didn’t know why, but now I think I do.

Over the last couple of years, the word cringe has taken a life all of it’s own, and I think it’s symptomatic of something. A mentality that revels in the perceived social missteps of others. And it’s sweeping the Internet.

A Cringy Graph
Google searches for the word “cringe” over the last 5 years

And the reason that I’m writing about it here at all is because over the last year or so I’ve started getting gems in the comments of my videos, like this one:

YouTube Comment
Exhibit A

This is bound to happen more often as my channel continues to grow and gain traction. After all, it’s a pretty niche thing that appeals almost exclusively to the geeky and nerdy. I don’t cater to those with low attention-spans, and neither does the content I’m reviewing. And I’m fine with this. I prefer this. The mainstream doesn’t appeal to me.

What I hate about the word cringe is that the people using it are trying to make me feel ashamed. Ashamed for doing what I love to do, and being who I like to be. But I’m proud. Proud of the success that I’ve made for myself. Proud of the things I’ve been able to set my mind to do, and proud of what I’m accomplishing. These comments don’t make me feel ashamed, but they do make me feel pissed off.

Cringe
A YouTube comment trying to shame me

“But Derek,” I hear you ask, “aren’t you not supposed to feed the trolls?” Yeah, probably not. But the reason I wanted to write this article is to talk to my viewers. To send a message to my fellow geeks and nerds:

Don’t let the bastards grind you down. 

Too often, people are going to see you have found something that brings you joy, and will judge you for it, because it’s not what brings them joy. Some of those people still haven’t found something that brings themselves joy, and will lash out at you. And the last thing they expect you to do is stand your ground.

The Point

As long as what you like to do doesn’t hurt anyone or any thing, embrace it. Life is too short to worry about what somebody else thinks about what you do. And the kinds of people who will try to exert their influence over you to abandon that which brings you joy aren’t the kinds of people you want in your life in the first place.

In Japan they say that the hammer that sticks out gets hammered down. So maybe in Japan this advice doesn’t hold true. But if I listened to everyone who ever told me that my hobbies weren’t worthwhile, that I wasn’t good enough, or that I should give up, then I’d be sitting down doing nothing. Right next to those people.

And to all of our inevitable haters: You don’t know.

One thought on “A Cringy Response

  1. minneyar

    One of the toughest lessons I’ve had to learn as an adult — and it has taken me over 30 years to figure it out — is to not be ashamed of things that I enjoy. Looking back, I spent much of my childhood being teased by both other kids and school and my family over anything I expressed interested in, so over time I learned to not openly express interest or enthusiasm in anything. Obviously that’s led to a lot of problems, and I haven’t managed to completely overcome it, but I am working hard to ignore the haters and be proud of things I like.

    It’s important to not only learn to not let them tear you down, but also call them out and watch yourself to make sure you don’t become one.