David Pogue’s TechnoFiles column in the March 2011 Scientific American (“Gadget Politics: The truth behind what makes technology’s true believers tick”) notes the passionate partisanship shown by users of particular bits of technology:

We’re not talking about civil disagreements, either. We’re talking about name-calling, hair-pulling, toxic tantrums, featuring a whole new arsenal of modern-age putdowns (the suffix “-tard” is always popular). It’s gadget hate speech.

not to mention the tons of hate mail he gets along these lines. My main interest here is in the suffix — I’d say libfix-tard, but first a few words about gadget hate speech.

Pogue sees three contributions to gadget hate speech:

(1) “tech companies these days work hard to link their products to style and image”, thus encouraging their customers to identify the products with themselves as people;

(2) “gadgets are expensive, and they quickly become obsolete”, so “you become invested in the superiority of your purchase”; and

(3) the Internet effect: “The kinds of people who peg their self-worth to their gadgets are precisely the kind of people who live online, where the standards of civility are very different from the real world’s”, especially because “when you’re online, you’re anonymous” [well, not always literally anonymous, but not personally known to most of the people you engage with online.

Pogue concludes:

Is there any hope for a détente in the electronics wars? Not as long as nobody knows your real identity online, as long as the gadget mill cranks out new models twice a year, and the marketing machines make us believe that our self-worth depends on the brands we carry.

That’s my opinion, anyway. And if you disagree with me, you’re an idiot-tard.

Idiot-tard is in fact attested, as in this posting on a poker blog (please don’t ask me to gloss this passage; just enjoy its boastful spewing):

I love how everybody laughs at me being busto when nobody saw the game i was never in behind. Some idiot tard got it in pre against me for like 350 bbs with A J against my AK and pinged a J obv standard. Flopped the nut straight nearly full stacks in by turn the same ret ard hits runner runner for a Barny Boatmen (full house). Flop nut straight yet again some idiot gets full stacks in on flop for over 300 bb with flush draw obv rivers it. Absolutely disgusting run of beats. I set my table image up perfectly to get you tards in with terrible cards 1 step ahead all the time, completly in this guys brain, plucking the strings of his soul like a banjo and yet obv The Sheriff gets sucked out on standard as F

-tard words have some history on this blog, most recently in a January 2010 posting on fucktard, here, where I quoted Michael Quinion’s affixes entry on -tard words, which did cite

celebutard, debutard, e-tard, lame-tard, scientard, conservatard, libtard/Libtard, Avatard

Within a day, Quinion had added the text:

However, the most common creation is the deeply offensive fucktard, a despicably stupid person.

Grant Barrett’s Double-Tongued Dictionary has fucktard from 1994. And Mark Peters’s Wordlustitude site has skanktard from 2005, in an entry that cites as related:

asstard, butt-tard, dorktard, douchetard, fucktard, puketard, shit-tard

So there are plenty of insulting -tard words for people to wield in gadget hate speech.

2 Responses to “-tards”

  1. Annals of slurs « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] posting on formations in -tard elicited some Facebook comments that were facetious (reminders of leotard and […]

  2. X fag « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] The humor of /b/’s many users, who refer to themselves as “/b/tards” [note -tard formation], is often incomprehensible to newcomers and outsiders, and is characterized by intricate […]

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