The Point

The Point

The Point

The Cultural Reshaping of “Bro”

(Graphic by Nathan Chavira)
(Graphic by Nathan Chavira)

In recent years, the landscape of social media and internet communication has undergone a subtle yet significant transformation. 

The word “bro,” traditionally a colloquial substitute for a person’s name, has evolved into a versatile term with profound linguistic and cultural implications. This shift, observed over the past two years, marks a fascinating development in online discourse.

Traditionally, “bro” was simply used in place of someone’s name, as in “what’s up bro” instead of “what’s up John.” However, its usage has now expanded, as it increasingly assumes the role of a pronoun. 

For instance, “bro is cooking” is becoming a more common way to say “he is cooking.” Not just limited to subject form, “bro” has also adopted a possessive voice, as seen in phrases like “bro’s cooking is amazing.”

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The real transformative power of “bro” lies in its capacity to introduce satire into a sentence. 

A statement like “bro thought he was going to win” carries a subtext vastly different from “he thought he was going to win.” The former, almost mockingly, suggests disbelief in the person’s chances of winning, whereas the latter is a straightforward statement. 

This newfound function allows “bro” to instantly infuse a sentence with a satirical or informal tone, evident in comparisons like “bro doesn’t know what he’s talking about” versus “he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” The use of “bro” in this context can both subtly discredit the subject, while also shifting the connotation of the sentence from accusatory and belittling to playful and informal. 

This linguistic evolution is not merely a trend. It signifies a fundamental shift in internet communication, revealing underlying factors that drive such linguistic changes. 

Secondary to the pandemic in 2020, social media culture and humor has become increasingly absurdist and irreverent. 

Researchers speculate that as people spent more and more time in front of screens and using social media, a widespread desensitization and disconnection to reality ensued. 

“Bro” replaces people’s names and all of the humanity that comes with them – reflective of a larger trend in internet and American culture. 

About the Contributor
Nathan Chavira, Reporter