The UFSI Generation

The acronym “UFSI” (“unfit for social interaction”) surfaced on Twitter this Thanksgiving, on Thanksgiving Eve. It was Tweeted by Tao Lin and quickly reached 100+ Retweets:

At first glance the Tweet appears, in its seeming familiarity, somewhat not notable; one feels certain an UFSI-like acronym or idiomatic expression already exists. But, for some reason, one then realizes, UFSI is actually new — not a synonym or clever rephrasing of a pre-existing thing. When people haven’t wanted to interact IRL they’ve apparently been excusing themselves as tired, busy with work, “sick,” “not available,” or other socially acceptable — but, most times, indirect — reasons that are, at best, polite or tactful; at worse, perhaps, harmlessly dishonest. Actually, the most common excuse for not interacting IRL is probably simply not answering the text message, email, phone call, or — in its various forms — pretending “no one is home” (or telling so-and-so to tell so-and-so “I’m not here” or “I’m sleeping”).

But now there’s UFSI. The original Tweet was screenshotted and posted on Tumblr by the literary zine Pop Serial and has — without media coverage, to my knowledge — garnered around 350 notes, mostly over Thanksgiving weekend:

On Thanksgiving day, one day after the initial Tweet, Lin created a “pamphlet,” as he called it, in elucidation of UFSI’s function in internet chats (and, one presumes, what Lin views as the “correct” response when someone has stated they are UFSI: “sweet,” apparently):

Within 36 hours two UFSI-related Twitter accounts surfaced:

Then UFSI spread to Spain (and, probably, other European countries), where it became “el #ufsi,” at least to one person; to another, it was embraced as a kind of personal or existential version of the Occupy Wall Street movement (in combining the memes, said person expressed solidarity with the 1% most UFSI of humanity, which, interestingly, is perhaps the opposite, in terms of power and influence, at this point, of the 1% in the Occupy Wall Street movement):

A search of “UFSI” on Twitter is currently yielding a surprisingly abundant, varied, earnest, and vibrant return:

Girls have embraced UFSI:

Self-identifying sociopaths have embraced UFSI:

Is the Twitter/Tumblr generation the UFSI generation? Generation Y (known in its latest and perhaps final incarnation as “The Millennials”) and Generation Z (which is arguably currently-coming-of-age) are alike in that they both are nominally abstract; they could, in their lack of concrete reference, describe anything with equal accuracy. That their names are completely nonfunctional as communication (imagine Tweeting “I’m Y” or “I’m Millennial” in an effort to communicate something) is a direct indication of their actual nonexistence, of their contrivance. In contrast, UFSI, already apparently functional and thriving after less than a week, is naturally indicating itself — without articles in Time or Newsweek — to be what actually exists in people’s minds (and what, resultingly, is expressed on Twitter).

One could argue Generation Y/Z is the LOL generation or [any other acronym] generation. But “laughing out loud” has always existed. So has BRB and BBL and TTYL. Perhaps UFSI also has always existed, but not as strongly, and definitely not with such obvious, powerful, one-sided movement toward even more of itself for even more people (look up “hikikomori” for where America and Europe, then all of urban Earth, are likely headed). Generation Y/Z, characterized by internet-usage (the most obvious effect of which is increased UFSI), may finally, in the coming months or years, be given actual meaning and concrete definition — if not officially then apparently, via Twitter search and Tumblr notes — as the UFSI generation: the logical conclusion, in terms of social behavior, of the internet, the only medium, arguably, in which being “unfit for social interaction” isn’t a liability but a joke, an acceptable trait, a means to generational solidarity. TC mark

More From Thought Catalog

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    damn audrey this is pretty legit

  • http://jamesalden.blogspot.com/ james alden

    sweet

  • http://twitter.com/ScottJJLewis Scott Lewis

    In cases of booty calls which involve minimal talking I guess you could use UFPI or Unfit For Physical Interaction, in cases in which you haven’t showered for a couple of days and really don’t feel like doing so

    • http://carpevida.wordpress.com/ The Traveling Dirt Bunny

      hahahahaha

    • http://www.oneyearintexas.com Perfect Circles

      Or just claim a UTI.

  • Blahblah

    I wish Tao Lin would go away.

  • Anonymous

    phlpn.es/829r8s

  • http://twitter.com/#!/WordNerd Ethan

    social media anxiety disorder #hikikomori #ufsi #thoughtcatalog #hashtag

  • sam

    don’t get me wrong, I like ufsi since I can relate to it, but to claim that this is some kind of emerging generational phenomenon is stretching the truth…by a lot

    ufsi is just another interesting way to self-identify as a tao lin fan and urban hipster, so if you’d like to write a piece on that, it might be a little more accurate

    • sam

      also, ufsi as a concept and this article likening it to an actual movement is more indicative of the narcissism that accompanies this generation than anything else. we have a serious issue with inflated self-worth and self-imposed isolation

      • BONER

        i think it was supposed to ‘be funny’ to some degree

  • Ronald

    I bookmarked the shit out this article and the hikikomori Wikipedia article.

    • http://typewriterpoetry.wordpress.com b r

      hikikomori is my life #ufsi

  • http://twitter.com/derpcircus miles barney

    via FB: “is it a disconnect with the
    world left by a previous generation, i.e. ‘social norms’, encompassing a
    feeling of incongruence that holds true for the representative majority
    of ‘generation y’ and ‘generation z’ that is not a subculture separate
    from the norm?”

  • http://carpevida.wordpress.com/ The Traveling Dirt Bunny

    Interesting stuff! I like your writing style too.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see how this is revolutionary since it’s merely a change in social graces. This blatant honesty has existed ever since the birth of the internet. The only change would be the fact that it’s bleeding into IRL situations.

  • macgyver51

    Turn off your phone for an hour, go outside, get over yourself, gain new perspective.

    • BONERBONERBONER

      go to school, make friends with smart, cool people, make a degree, get a moderately satisfying job with good pay, meet your girlfriend, marry your girlfriend, have two children, volunteer at a school, volunteer at a hospital, visit shut-ins, feel very happy and accomplished and know that your life is truly meaningful

  • galanteee

    “Generation Y/Z, characterized by internet-usage (the most obvious effect
    of which is increased UFSI), may finally, in the coming months or
    years, be given actual meaning and concrete definition — if not
    officially then apparently, via Twitter search and Tumblr notes — as the
    UFSI generation: the logical conclusion, in terms of social behavior,
    of the internet, the only medium, arguably, in which being “unfit for
    social interaction” isn’t a liability but a joke, an acceptable trait, a
    means to generational solidarity.”

    HOLY SHIT that was an annoyingly long sentence.

  • Anonymous

    phlpn.es/829r8s

  • Dole

    first post in TC history I felt was “worth reading”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000957852881 Arisa Yuki

    I’m generation Y/LOL/BRB/BBL.. but thank goodness I’m not UFSI most of the time- or maybe I’m in denial.

  • http://mrianmbelcurry.tumblr.com/ Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

    Tao Lin has a cultural impact. His writing style has been very influential and will be looked back as influential. He takes the modernism of Hemingway, depression and the vernacular of the internet and weaved his own voice. ‘sweet’

    • LaTourista

      No, stop trying to mythologize someone who’s still somewhat sentient. 

      • http://mrianmbelcurry.tumblr.com/ Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

        Yes. He mythologized his life by writing autobiographical fiction.

  • http://mrianmbelcurry.tumblr.com/ Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

    Tao Lin has a cultural impact. His writing style has been very influential and will be looked back as influential. He takes the modernism of Hemingway, depression and the vernacular of the internet and weaved his own voice. ‘sweet’

  • Brenda Kwang

    tl: ufsi
    bk: stfu

  • http://jimmychenchen.com/ Jimmy Chen

    #pwwt the ‘real’ ufsi

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    […] for Halloween and always end up with some horrible, last-minute, ragamuffin costume. What kind of Unfit For Social Interaction mess goes to a party dressed as a Russian Hooker version of Gandhi? SMH. And now you and your […]

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