The Internet has no place for your grandmother’s commonsense communication aphorisms. That old standby “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” for instance, is laughably anachronistic online, where opinions need not be well thought out, facts don’t need to be checked, and rage needn’t be reined in. Considering this reality, it might be useful to coronate an expression that best represents the status of Internet discourse in 2014—a symbol of our times. “The Internet’s Most Internet Sentence,” if you will.
Attempting to identify, much less dissect, The Internet’s Most Internet Sentence is no piece of cake. For starters, there are the thousands and thousands of sentences found in highly professional, meticulously proofread online publications and websites. But then you also have all the poorly punctuated, grammatically askew ramblings of the blogosphere, and the millions of nearly unintelligible sentences that crop up on message boards. There are comments section diatribes and online product assessments, racist rants and restaurant reviews
At first blush, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest that the extremely common online exhortation “Join the conversation!” best represents the aspirational-slash-somehow-kind-of-pitiful nature of Internet communications. It may also be worth considering the related, but more pushy and branded expression, “Like us on Facebook.” Other completely viable off-the-top-of-the-head candidates include the ubiquitous password-protected-page inquiry, “Forgot your password?” and the currently ascending appeal for online attention, “Ask me anything!”
But in order to most accurately assess these and other word combinations vying for the title of The Internet’s Most Internet Sentence, it’s imperative to consider the precise qualities that should be present in such a thing. To best represent the true essence of online communication, The Internet’s Most Internet Sentence really ought to include a not-insignificant measure of who-asked-you-type opinion, at least a pinch of questionable judgment, and some snark. Most importantly, The Internet’s Most Internet Sentence must also be annoying—really, really annoying—while at the same time making you kind of half smile every time you read it.
No sentence populating the contemporary online universe hits that mark with more precision than “Your an idiot!” It is The Internet’s Most Internet Sentence.
If “Your an idiot!” doesn’t ring a bell, then you probably don’t use the Internet all that much. (Also: You should count yourself as lucky and be sure to proceed through the remainder of your life exactly as you have up to this point.) You, my friend, are no idiot.
The rest of us sad computer jockeys know “Your an idiot!” well.
It is both a symbol and a symptom of our computer-reliant times. The unfiltered, no-editors nature of 99.99 percent of what appears on the Internet means the online realm is a place where everyone can show everyone else just how smart they are. Or how dumb.
In this setting, “Your an idiot!” has everything necessary to be considered the ultimate representation of Internet discourse. And the importance of “Your an idiot!” extends far beyond those three words: It is a synecdoche for what may be The Internet’s Most Internet conversation. Here’s how it works:
Step One: Someone sends an opinion or comment out into the world without it being requested.
Step Two: Someone else decides that they simply must reply to the original statement via a response noting that the person who wrote it is a big stupid idiot.
Step Three: In actualizing Step Two, the second person makes a rudimentary grammar mistake—“Your an idiot!”—indicating that he or she is maybe not the best person to judge the merits of a given opinion or how intelligent the holder of that opinion is.
Step Four: The original opinion holder points out the error by replying with something along the lines of, “I love it when people try to say I’m stupid and make an error in the process. Who’s the idiot now?”
So those are the four steps involved in a typical, everyday “Your an idiot!” scenario. But in rare, spectacular instances, it gets even better. Sometimes, if you’re extremely lucky, you’ll come across the elusive fifth bonus step, wherein the person making the you’re/your error fires back after being called out as someone who doesn’t understand when it’s appropriate to use contractions versus possessive pronouns in written English.
In Step Five, the ridiculed critic accuses the original opinion holder of being a priggish and boring prescriptivist, or, worse yet, a language bully. Here you’ll get something like: “You know exactly what I meant! Way to deflect attention from your idiocy by nitpicking about something I just typed too fast.”
Now, should you happen upon a Twitter war or web conflagration that reaches the rarest of the rare scenarios involving the seldom-seen Step Six, you should stop reveling in your good fortune and, I don’t know, email me, because the sixth step in “Your an idiot!” really is special. It’s worth commemorating with friends and loved ones.
In Step Six, the original communicator replies with either “Whatever!” (which, at one point in the mid-’90s briefly held the title as The Internet’s the Most Internet Sentence) or “Ok, your rite. I appologise. You win.”
Now that is Internet to the core! And exchanges of this sort are becoming more and more common thanks to how we’re all communicating at the moment. While it’s true that online comments sections and message boards initially provided a sound foundation for the development and flourishing of “Your an idiot!” social media is what really put it over the top, especially Twitter.
You’ll see the four most common “Your an idiot!” steps progress every now and again on Facebook, but that platform often brings together people who are friends, or at the very least those who don’t often hate one another. There are no similarly inherent roadblocks when it comes to Twitter interactions. Based on a careful but admittedly unscientific count consisting of samples taken at different times and on different days, the phrase is tweeted on average 25 times per hour. So approximately 600 times each day, 18,000 times a month, and 216,000 times a year someone on Twitter tells someone else on Twitter “Your an idiot!”
Seven minutes ago, for instance, someone tweeted: “@jawsespn your an idiot for saying you wouldn’t take Johnny Manziel in the first three rounds.” Forty-four minutes ago, it was: “Teacher: hot dogs kill people. Me: your an idiot.” And 13 hours ago everything came together when someone named Allison tweeted, “Just saw a comment on Facebook that read: ‘your an idiot”. Alas, it seems YOU’RE in fact, the idiot.”
On a typical day, the exact phrase “It’s you’re, not your” is tweeted 25 times. Use of the pared down version, “It’s you’re,” as a scold occurs hundreds of times daily on Twitter, and if you were to combine all variations on this theme—including those with misspellings and punctuation miscues and weird slang things—the correction is tweeted out thousands of times each day. Among the celebrities who fire back with Step Four type shaming is Piers Morgan, who seems to have a thing for correcting grammar mistakes on Twitter. He recently responded with “It’s ‘you’re’” after someone tweeted “@piersmorgan blood boils when I hear you talk piers. Your an idiot.”
Over on YouTube, “Your an idiot!” posts are quite common. Among those residing comfortably within the genre is a video about gun rights under the title “Response to Pierce [sic] Morgan your an idiot” and one about religion called “Your an idiot for believing in God.” One especially Internet-y uploaded video reflects an archetypal Step Five response. In it, a young lady wearing a red T-shirt emblazoned with giant screen-printed eyes and a huge orange nose, so as to resemble Elmo’s face, sits on a bed and speaks truth to some unnamed haters. “How about on the Internet, when I type your, like y-o-u-r, and I actually mean y-o-u apostrophe r-e?” she says in an agitated tone. “In the context of the sentence, you know what I’m saying. Why do you have to correct me? Now I usually correct myself when I do that because, again, I like to have proper grammar, or whatever, on the Internet. But I’m just saying, does it really freaking matter? I don’t want another person correcting me, because, honestly, you understand me. And you know you understand me, so just shut up and get a life, OK.”
The online arena offers an ideal confluence of lamebrains, goofballs, furious opinion holders, snobbish pedants, and everything in between, which makes it an ideal landing spot for the words “Your an idiot!” This is a perfect match, and that fact becomes even more obvious when you realize that this glorious Internet-y sentence is not one capable of thriving in any old setting. It needs the Internet.
It’s worth mentioning that the expression is relatively difficult to type in Microsoft Word—mostly as a result of the autocorrect function. So if a shaky grasp of grammar rules and a penchant for snidely correcting people with whom one disagrees are the building blocks that begat the “Your an idiot!” phenomenon, autocorrect functions as the opposite—the “Your an idiot!” killer. It’s super annoying to type “Your an idiot!” when using Microsoft Word, because as soon as you hit the space bar after the “n” in “an,” the “your” transforms into “you’re.” For those who don’t know the grammar rule, or simply mistyped, the mistake disappears as if by magic. Meanwhile, much backspacing ensues for fans of the ironic/slang use of grammar mistakes or, say, writers looking to override the change and intentionally mess up the your/you’re thing for the purpose of an article on the subject.
Unfortunately (or, depending on what you think of grammar dustups and Twitter feuds, fortunately) there is no wholesale autocorrect for the Internet. And until the day when such a thing exists, it’s a good bet that “Your an idiot!” will continue to reign supreme as The Internet’s Most Internet Sentence.
Don’t get cocky, though, “Your an idiot!” Word on Reddit is that “It’s a hoax!” is on the rise and looking to snatch your crown.
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