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*"Cringeworthy," an eponym of the words “cringe” and “worthy,” is an Internet slang term used to describe a wide range of social media blunders and FAILs that may evoke feelings of awkwardness, embarrassment or even pity.
On January 25th, 2004, KillerMovies Forums member shadowy_blue submitted a thread to discuss the most cringeworthy moments in the fantasy film series The Lord of the Rings. On June 13th, 2005, The Daily Mail published an article listing ten notable cringeworthy films.
On March 28th, 2007, Urban Dictionary user Apollo Bar submitted an entry for “cringeworthy,” defining it as an action that causes an uncomfortable response. On December 6th, the Internet humor blog Cracked published an article listing eight cringeworthy moments from comic book films. On February 1st, 2009, the site Cringeworthy.net was launched, which serves as a database for cringe-inducing material.
On September 10th, Redditor ABsynth808 created the /r/cringe subreddit, featuring embarrassing and awkward videos. In the following four years, the subreddit gained over 179,000 subscribers. On August 2nd, 2010, an entry titled “Cringe Humor” was created on the trope database website TV Tropes. On October 14th, 2012, the /r/cringepics subreddit was launched by Redditor drumcowski, which accumulated more than 220,000 subscribers in the first year. On November 7th, Redditor BathtubZombie submitted a video titled “My Video for Briona” to the /r/cringe subreddit, featuring a shirtless teenage boy’s monologue addressed to his girlfriend (shown below, left). Prior to being archived, the post garnered upwards of 12,600 up votes and 1,000 comments. On December 13th, Redditor MrGrock submitted a video to /r/cringe featuring an awkward end to a date from the reality television dating show Blind Date (shown below, right), which received over 11,500 up votes and 900 comments before it was archived.
On February 14th, Redditor illskillz1 submitted a photo gallery on the image-hosting website Imgur to the /r/cringepics subreddit, highlighting several pictures of the Iraqi student and aspiring male model Ahmed Angel. Within the first five months, the post gained more than 11,500 up votes and 800 comments. On March 16th, the website Cringe Channel was launched, featuring cringe-inducing media, a gift shop and a web forum. On June 10th, the viral content site BuzzFeed highlighted several photographs and screenshots in a post titled “22 Cringeworthy Ways to tell the World You’re Pregnant” (shown below).