Douchebaggery is a concept that has prevailed throughout my tenure on earth. Rather than some stupid vulgarity, I think the concept shows how rich our language is, and merits serious consideration. Everyone hates douchebags, everyone recognizes one when they see one, and we all have a sense that it's a distinctly modern personality type... Something that came on the scene in the 70s or 80s. By understanding what makes various types of douches douches, I think, we can understand what it means to be human, with broad implications for politics, economics.

So what is a douchebag? Generally it refers to a male, though more recently I've heard the term be used in a gender-neutral way. What distinguishes a douchebag from, say, a fucker? The douchebag is inanimate. It therefore lacks intentionality, whereas a fucker connotes evil or mischievous intent. In short, a douchebag is a mechanical device, it has no idea what is going on, hence why we speak of douchebags with a degree of pity. Forgive us our bags de douche, for they know not what they do.

As mechanical devices lacking intentionality, "douchebags" are closely related to "tools," though slightly different. "Tool" invokes a user, a puppeteer, usually the state or some other network of power that transforms pitiable people into unwitting accomplices of evil. Douchebags are tools, but their only purpose is to wash vaginas. They symbolize the sexual act, stripped of any value. The term douchebag refers to the same intentionless people as "tool," but in the context of desire. The tool is political, the douche is aesthetic. The douchebag therefore has terrible taste. When equipped with wealth or status, the douchebag is known for conspicuous consumption and disdain for humanities and the arts. Armed with academic knowledge, the douche pontificates about the poverty of uneducated people.

So what makes a douchebag a bad thing? After all, isn't the douche at least getting laid? The reason the douchebag is a sad figure, is that he isn't getting anything out of his experiences. He may be getting laid, but he doesn't make any human connection with his sexual partner, and equally as importantly, he isn't getting anything out of it himself. I think it is crucial that we make this VALUE distinction. We instinctively recognize that value is related to our ability to experience. And the concept of the douchebag illustrates that more clearly than anything. The douche is of minimal worth to others (the douched) but more importantly, he is worthless in himself.

When pointed out it sounds blatantly obvious--of course value depends on our ability to experience it--but I don't think it is very obvious in practice. If you look at the prevailing value, which every politician reiterates ad nauseum, it's always "hard work." Business leaders equally sell the "hard work" message. Nobody ever expresses concern about squandering the fruits of hard work with an atrophied vision. In fact, vision itself is always coopted as something that hardworking people do. People compete to be able to call each other lazy, and to be able to blame the lazy person for value problems. We are consumers with no time to actually think about who we are. We are becoming douchebags.

Douches are not lazy. The quintessential douche, that paragon of finance capital, the Ibanker bro, works harder than anything I've ever encountered. He works 14 hour days six or seven days a week. He works so hard he needs cocaine and MDMA to be able to stay awake and party. The academic douche grades papers until the early hours of the morning, and desperately researches 14 hour days in the library, making damn sure nobody else has published what he scrambles to publish, however fine a point it might be.

If the douche is not lazy, and yet he is still worthless to himself and others, then maybe being "hard working" isn't actually the best of thing a person can be. Maybe the people selling the brainwashing scheme are themselves the douches. They haven't thought things through far enough. Steve Jobs for instance, a notorious slave driver, was also famous for selling us ourselves back. The "i" whatever promised you that most important thing, a self. It's not just a phone, it's yourself, or something like that. Siri would even be your inner voice for you. She could tell you what the meaning of life is. The problem is Siri is just a stupid machine.

Idleness doesn't guarantee enlightenment any more than hard work guarantees wealth. No dispute there. And maybe that is the point. Being a self is hard work too, even if it looks like nothing from the outside. Being a self is an activity, a skill, which takes time, practice, and feedback. But it is not the kind of work that politicians or businessmen ever want to provide for. Either because they don't think they can control selves, or because they are simply sad bags of douche. Most likely a combination of the two.

Before I leave anyone with the impression that I am merely recommending armchair philosophy as the path to enlightenment, let me reiterate the importance of the interrelated fail of the douche. Again, the douche is not valuable unto himself, but he is also not valuable to his sexual partner. He is not a lover, a toy, a fling. He provides merely a spray of sanitary wetness. The absence of pleasure. And this is key. Because it's not just a QUANTITY of value that the douche lacks. It's not just a dimness of experience, but an ability to be meaningful to other humans.

Maybe it is obvious when stated that humans are creatures of meaning. Being is an activity, which consitute a experience, and without meaning, literally nothing happens. The tree falls and nobody is there to hear it. But hearing the tree isn't a solitary experience. Just like the concept of a douche has no known author, and nobody rendered it intelligible. It's something we understand because none of us and all of us own meaning. To the extent that any one of us loses the ability to transmit signal, the whole edifice is diminished.

This interconnected feature of value is what the douche brings to light. It's so obvious and near to our hearts that it laid the groundwork for massive socialist revolutions all over the world. Now that capitalism has been dancing on the grave of its late compatriot, for decades, it's clear that the individual is an indispensable concept as well. You don't have a network without nodes. But we have gone too far in the other direction, and probably plan to continue to veer off for quite some time. But the fact that we all recoil in horror at the douchebag, even when he is fancy or successful, gives me hope that our moral compass remains intact.