It all began in an email thread between NYU alumnus, Tao Lin, and Leftöver Crack/Choking Victim front man, Stza, who wrote that he was feeling depressed, but interested in hanging out with Lin regardless. To perhaps sympathize with the emotional rocker, Lin wrote, “I feel ‘unfit’ for social interaction most days” and a few days later UFSI was born in a tweet, which was rapidly retweeted more than 100 times. Shortly after, a screenshot of said tweet appeared on Tumblr and has steadily culled over 350 notes—securing UFSI’s place as a notable acronym in internet culture.
While UFSI directly stands for “unfit for social interaction,” Lin explains, “The official definition is ‘lacking the necessary motivation, competence, meaning, tools, worldview, desire, etc., to function within a social situation at an acceptable level’”—a definition that can now be found on Urban Dictionary. The term is responsible for the creation of the Twitter accounts, @UFSItweets and @ufsi_ and has already expressed impressive trending power.
There’s something amusing about blunt honesty of the acronym, it really accomplishes what no other acronym can. Audrey Allendale of Thought Catalog recently covered the emergence of the term, and made an interesting point that “UFSI” more directly says what we mean to say when we make up excuses, like if we’re “too busy” or if we’re “sick,” to avoid seeing someone in person. Allendale writes, “UFSI is actually new—not a synonym or clever rephrasing of a pre-existing thing” and she’s absolutely correct. UFSI best defines a feeling that we’re all familiar with—a friend asks you to a movie and you simply don’t feel like going. Instead of lying by saying you have too much work (so that you can sit at home and watch The Wonder Years on Netflix), UFSI can be used as a fair, no-questions-asked response.
However there is another facet to UFSI, which is not really encompassed by the definition provided by Urban Dictionary. While the term has much to do with lacking the motivation to be social, Lin explains that “it can also mean if someone knows they’re going to create awkward situations if they enter a social situation, due to not wanting to or to not being in the correct mood, or something, yet are forcing themselves to be in a social situation, due to whatever pressure.” This of course directly applies to Stza who, despite being depressed, eventually hung out with Lin.
It’s impossible to say if the term will really take the internet by storm and become as commonplace as “lol,” but so far its widespread usage appears to be promising. Although Lin doesn’t particularly have any hopes for “UFSI,” he finds humor in the term’s “inherent self-awareness and self-deprecation” and would appreciate it if people continued to use it.