Everybody has days where everything seems to go wrong. If you want to tell a story of a terrible day, then you should start it by saying, “TIFU.” Here’s what it means and how you can use it.
Today, I F***ed Up
TIFU stands for “today, I fucked up.” People use it on the internet as a precursor to a story where the poster does something wrong or messes everything up. This acronym is usually found at the beginning of a sentence or paragraph and is almost always spelled in all caps.
TIFU stories often center on the narrator’s bad luck and poor decision-making skills as they try to navigate a tricky situation. Incredulous and wacky, the details often make a TIFU story even more compelling to write and read. These tales are often played for laughs, similar to how you might tell an embarrassing story to a group of friends in person. For example, you might say, “TIFU by accidentally dialing 911 while I was on the toilet.” While this scenario is unlikely, it’s possible and makes for an even funnier story.
The Emergence of TIFU
Unlike many of the acronyms we’ve featured before, TIFU does not come from online chatrooms in the 1990s. Instead, TIFU emerged in 2012 on Reddit with the creation of the subreddit r/TIFU. It’s a community where users contribute funny and embarrassing situations that happen due to bad decisions.
Since its creation, it has become one of the largest communities on the website, with over 17 million subscribed users. Several posts on the subreddit have achieved the elusive accomplishment of garnering over a hundred thousand upvotes. The top-voted post in the community, “TIFU by buying everyone an AncestryDNA kit and ruining Christmas,” details the story of someone accidentally discovering that one of their siblings has a different father after ordering a DNA kit.
TIFU shares similarities with other internet acronyms on Reddit, such as ELI5, AMA, and TIL, which are all based on the subreddit’s name and used as an introduction to the main idea. Every title on the subreddit has to follow the naming convention of “TIFU,” followed by a one-sentence summary of the situation.
While TIFU is primarily used in Reddit, you can also use it outside of the site. It’s become ubiquitous and recognizable enough on the internet that you can say “TIFU,” and many people will understand the context.
What Makes a Good TIFU Story?
If you browse the r/TIFU subreddit, you’ll start to notice patterns emerging among the most upvoted posts. There are a few different types of TIFU stories that connect with people. Whether you’re planning to post on the subreddit or share a tale with your friends, you might want to emphasize stories that have these elements.
One of the most common types of stories is someone doing something incorrectly without realizing it for a very long time. For example, the story “TIFU by spending the last year on reddit talking to myself after being muted” by u/Bufger involves the user posting hundreds of times without receiving any upvotes or replies. They later realize that they’ve been muted by Reddit’s automatic system for the past year, and no one has seen anything they’ve posted.
Another element that makes for great TIFU story material is damaging relationships with romantic partners, family members, friends, and even strangers without intending to. You’ll find many posts of users accidentally seeing messages they weren’t supposed to see, acting awkwardly while under the influence, and unintentionally revealing personal details to acquaintances.
Lastly, you’ll notice many of the stories on TIFU involve people who do something they see as perfectly innocent, only to realize later that they have unintentionally gotten themselves in a tricky situation. In the story “TIFU by pretending to be deaf for the entire quarantine” by u/yeetawayaccount101, the poster sends a message to their class that they’re having difficulty hearing the lecture. This leads to all their classmates thinking that the poster is deaf for the rest of the semester.
How to Use TIFU
If you’re going to use TIFU in Reddit post, add it to the start of your title. The same is true if you’re going to post on social media or send a message to your friends. TIFU is generally written in uppercase. However, the lowercase version is fine if you’re going to send a text.
Here are a few examples of TIFU in action:
- “TIFU by going on a trip to Alaska and leaving my bag filled with winter gear at the airport.”
- “Guys… TIFU by throwing my passport into a firepit.”
- “TIFU by not realizing I’ve been using slow 3G for the last four years instead of 4G.”
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