On ‘Bromance’

“It’s such an ugly word,” Mr. Bates was complaining. “I’d like to punch the next person who says ‘bromance.'”

“But I can see why someone invented it,” Mr Magundi said. “We used to have a word for a deep and selfless but not sexual love between two people. We called it ‘friendship,’ and we praised the love of one friend for another as one of the highest expressions of human nature. But we’ve simply lost the use of the word ‘friend.’ Partly it’s because of what I call social neoteny: we’ve become a culture of fifth-graders, who titter at the suggestion of anything involving ‘love’ and can’t resist making a smutty joke of it. And partly it’s because we’ve trivialized the meaning of the word ‘friend’: a ‘friend’ now can be any of the hundreds of people whose status updates appear on your Facebook page. Because we can’t grow up, and because we make everyone we know and don’t actively hate our ‘friend,’ we simply don’t have a word in English for a strong attachment between two men. And until someone comes up with a better word, ‘bromance’ will continue to infest our language, because it describes a phenomenon we often see but don’t have any other name for.”


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