“That fish has been fried” is a slang phrase used in the context of an Internet thread. It expresses (in a terse & colorful way) the speaker’s opinion that a thread is growing tiresome, tedious or repetitive and that the speaker is leaving it for that reason. In no way does it imply that the speaker believes that the issue has been settled or the previous commenter’s argument was correct or should prevail. Often it’s quite the opposite. A person who utters this phrase may be convinced that his viewpoint is still valid or logically unassailable, but may simply be tired or weary of arguing.
Although I believe the phrase has negative connotations, I don’t believe it should only have negative connotations. The phrase should remain ambiguous enough to retain a neutral meaning. Here are some possible connotations:
- Both sides have already presented their respective opinions in some detail, and past this point, the only rational thing to do at this point is to “agree to disagree.”
- One side has simply not done their research or is making too many unproven assertions.
- One side is unusually shrill or derogatory, and rather than trying to engage, the other side has decided that it’s best just to leave the thread alone.
- One side is too tired or has more pressing matters (Like living, working, etc). I’m a writer and if I have strong feelings about a subject like capital punishment, I’d rather write a long blogpost to express my opinions than continue some unending Facebook thread about the topic.
- The time it would take for one side to disprove the misconceptions of the other side would be considerable.
- The context of the thread makes it inappropriate to continue this debate. It may be off-topic (i.e., a capital punishment debate on an Elvis Costello forum for instance). Or the discussion may just involve too many arguments or people or vantage points to allow for a coherent debate. Even in a context where the person threw out the question in the first place, the forum itself may not be particularly well-suited to longer and more sustained arguments. Who wants to read something with 400 responses?
I have written before that it is often difficult for reasonably educated people to disengage from Internet conversations.
How to use this phrase correctly:
Because this neologism is still new, I think the best way to use it in the context of a thread would be to simply write the phrase with a hyperlink:
- That fish has been fried. OR
- That fish has been fried. http://www.imaginaryplanet.net/weblogs/idiotprogrammer/2013/06/that-fish-has-been-frieddefinition-and-explanation/
It’s not my intent to create extra web traffic to my site. But since I coined the phrase and defined it most thoroughly, it would be easier for people just to link to this page rather than to explain what it means.
Of course, when one person declares that “this fish has been fried,” others may disagree with this assessment. So others may choose to continue this thread. But it broadcasts a message to others that the thread might be ready to end. Rather than encouraging censorship or suppressing speech, my hope is that the expression of this phrase will simply create initial momentum for people to move on and get on with their respective lives.
I debated several variants to this phrase. “My fish has been fried” “The fish is fried, etc.” I like “that fish” (rather than “my fish” because it is objectifying (i.e., depersonalizing) the discussion and “has been fried” because there is no point in trying to fry the fish again.
Anyway, world, here it is! Hope it helps!
Postscript: I will know that this idiom will have finally entered the vernacular when people start using it on me….
Postscript 2. It probably is impossible to force a slang word into vernacular. Challenge accepted!
Postscript 3. I just realized that my neologism is a snowclone with endless variations (“That banana’s been stretched,” “that kernel’s been popped,” “That bone’s been chewed,” etc). The customizability of this phase attests to its flexibility and usefulness.