Internet Humor: Nerdfighters DFTBA!

Sofiy InckOctober 27, 2017Exploring HumorFeatures
Internet Humor: Nerdfighters DFTBA!

A few weeks ago I went with my best friend to a bookstore and picked up a copy of John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines. I opened the front cover to find a Post-It stuck to the first page. It read: “If you are reading this note you are probably a Nerdfighter. It’s totally OK. DFTBA!”

Part of what bonds people together in communities is a shared sense of humor. There is nothing more fun than rolling on the floor laughing — or than rolling on the floor laughing with other people that find something equally funny. People are attracted to people that they will have a good time with. Besides, laughing is fun — it releases chemicals in your brain that make you happier. And things are always more enjoyable when you share them with another person. What the Internet does is extend the number of people laughing together. The Internet is accessible all over the world and so people with unique talents or styles or senses of humor can find each other whether they live two or 2,000,000 miles away from each other. One of the ways people bond is through being able to see the same thing and laugh about it together.

One online video community has gone from laughing together to raising thousands of dollars together. This is a community is comprised of Nerdfighters; it calls itself Nerdfighteria. This humorous community was started by two brothers who communicated with each other through publicly viewable videos. They posted these videos on YouTube, which is where online video communities started.

YouTube was founded by Chad Hurly, Steve Chen, and Jawed Kairm. They were all employees of PayPal, which is a website that allows consumers to buy and sell things online without revealing personal financial information. The first YouTube office was founded in a garage in 2005. Then in November 2005 a venture capital firm called Sequoia Capital invested $3.5 million in the website. In the summer of 2006, YouTube was one of the fastest growing websites online and was ranked the fifth most popular website on Alexa Internet, Inc., even outpacing MySpace in its fast growth. According to a survey done on July 16, 2006, 100 million video clips were viewed on YouTube daily, and 65,000 new videos were uploaded every 24 hours. Now, the website has on average, nearly 20 million visitors per month and according to Nielsen NetRatings: 44% are female, 56% male, and most visitors are between the ages of 12 and 17. In October of that same year Google announced it would buy YouTube for 1.6 billion dollars in stock.

One of the reasons YouTube is so popular is its ability to allow viewers to watch whatever they want, when they want it. And more than allowing entertainment to be on demand, with YouTube, it’s the viewers, not corporations, who chose who will become popular. It is all the viewers that decide if something is funny or not, or if someone is talented or not; it’s not one person or even a group of people, it is the entire world. Entertainment is slowly becoming about what people want to watch. You could say that broadcasting has become more egalitarian or more democratic.

When particularly funny people upload videos to YouTube, they often create communities. Because these communities share a common sense of humor, they are often very tight-knit and together they can do incredible things.

One particular community seems to really embody all the great things that can come from sharing a sense of humor. This community is called Nerdfightaria. John and Hank Green are two brothers who co-created the popular YouTube channel, Vlogbrothers. John Green is a well-respected author who was awarded the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Novel for his book Paper Towns. Hank Green runs the environmental technology website EcoGeek and also is a singer/songwriter. In January 2007 they decided to stop communicating through anything text based (e-mails, letters etc.), and instead began communicating through public YouTube videos. The project was called Brotherhood 2.0 and during that year a community sprung up around their videos called Nerdfightaria. The Members of Nerdfightaria are called Nerdfighters, and they are described as, “Instead of being made of, like bones and skin and tissue, is entirely of awesome. ”

On December 31, 2007, John and Hank decided to continue making video blogs (or “vlogs) even though Brotherhood 2.0 had ended. John later said of their vlogs: “Really, it’s not about anything in particular. Whether we’re talking about our lives, making each other laugh, or trying to get something more important across, people seem to enjoy it.” Over the years this tight-knit community created lingo and phrases like “worldsuck,” which is anything and everything that is bad or unfair. Another unique turn of phrase is “French the llama” which replaces “Wow!” Or “Oh my gosh!” So instead of saying “Oh my gosh that whale is big!” a Nerdfighter would say: “French the llama, that whale is big.” “Notsome” is the opposite of awesome and my personal favorite: “DFTBA” which is an initialism that stands for “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.” DFTBA has become a marker for Nerdfighters and appears all over the websites, blogs and forums.

In 2007 John and Hank introduced an idea they had for a charity project called Project for Awesome (P4A) it is one day of the year (usually December 17) when YouTube users upload a video of themselves talking about their favorite charity organization. The goal is to get these videos onto YouTube’s most viewed list and onto YouTube’s Most Discussed Page, so that more people become educated about really fantastic charities that work to decrease Worldsuck. In 2009, the P4A videos dominated YouTube’s most popular list and by the end of the project, the P4A videos made up the first six or seven pages of most commented, most viewed and most favorited on YouTube that week. In 2010 the project raised over $100,000 for charity. As P4A becomes an annual event, the YouTube staff has become more and more involved by hosting live streaming for events and providing space and equipment for P4A events.

Through the unusual spread of these videos, the nerdfighter community is getting bigger and more people are uniting through a shared sense of humor. Perhaps more strangers will get notes in books and more people will understand the Nerdfighter inside jokes, and more people will feel like they belong to something important, learn about great charities, read books together, and more people will laugh together because Hank Green is wearing a tiny cowboy hat.

If you want to check out the awesomeness of Nerdfighteria here are some links:

An introduction video:

The Nerdfighter website:


Sofiy Inck is a 15 year old student who lives in Brooklyn, NY with her mother, father, and sister. She has been on the KidSpirit editorial board for five years. She has numerous interests, including nerdy TV shows, documentaries about cults, dead languages, John Green and dying her hair to match her mood. She finds writing bios awkward.