On Douchebags: A Prologue

Later this week, I will be publishing an article called “5 Good Things Douchebags Have Unfairly Monopolized“. As I was in the planning phases of the article, I realized that I was bristling about the use of the word “douchebag”, and even considered making it one of the entries on the list. So, I thought it would be useful to have a conversation about the word. 

Surpassed only slightly by “hipster”, “douchebag” is one of the most overused pejorative descriptors we have for people today. We all seem to innately know a douchebag when we see one, but I never see anyone trying to define what it is in words. To me, the Modern American Douchebag is arrogant, self-centered, attention-seeking, not too bright, obliviously susceptible to fads and trends, and bigoted towards race, gender, sexuality, or all of the above. In short, they are the people who never really stopped to think about the effects they have on others or on their environment, and their self-esteem is unjustifiably high.

Googling "douchebag" brings up a lot of pictures of Jersey guidos, but they are only a single subset of douchebag.

Googling “douchebag” brings up a lot of pictures of Jersey guidos, but they are only a single subset of douchebag.

Everybody likes to think that they have a low tolerance for douchebags, because it seems like best practice to distance yourself from that description as much as possible. But in truth, not only are most people exaggerating when they describe themselves that way, but having a super low douchebag tolerance is not actually such a great thing. I can attest to that, because I actually do have a dangerously low tolerance, and it’s caused me more problems than pride.

You see, douchebags are everywhere. They are all around us. And they tend to congregate in the most popular social destinations. So unless you’re willing to be seen as an anti-social shut-in, you’re likely going to have to expose yourself to douchebags quite a bit, especially if you’re young.

I’ve found myself unwittingly walking right into douchebag hives more times than I can count – usually at the behest of people I actually like. The pool at the W Hotel, certain parts of Lake Pleasant, pretty much any bar in Scottsdale… And the fact that the people I was there to see seemed to be having a perfectly pleasant time in those places proved that people are much more douchebag-tolerant than they would think, and why it’s a semi-serious problem for me.

In those situations, I tend to pretty much shut down. I don’t want to talk to anybody, I don’t want to move from whatever spot seems the most secluded, and I outright refuse to start drinking. That last one may seem counterintuitive, but long ago I made the unfortunate discovery that drinking in the presence of high concentrations of douchebags makes me a very bad drunk. And keep in mind – I’m normally a very happy (and sleepy) drunk. When I fall into a douchebag trap, my one and only mental focus besides rage and disgust is bent on finding an excuse to get out of there, and people who don’t know me well come away from the experience thinking I’m the biggest asshole on the planet.

But getting back to the subject at hand, as a culture we seem to be in the starting phases of a douchebag backlash – on the word itself mind you, not the idea. Again, it comes down to overexposure, which is why I originally didn’t want to use the word in my next article. But in the end, I need to accept that it’s truly the best descriptor we have for the kind of person to which I’m referring. “Douchebag” is now an inescapable part of our lexicon. And in a way, that can only be a good thing. In an ideal world, the ubiquity of “douchebag” would inspire actual terrible people to look within and comprehend the things about themselves that line up with such an ugly term.

But we all know they probably won’t.

Jeremy Piven: Well-known celebrity douchebag

Jeremy Piven: Well-known celebrity douchebag

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Comment (1)

  1. […] Before jumping into this article, I recommend reading my disclaimer/companion piece on the word “douchebag”. […]

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