A SNAFU, a Shitshow, or a Clusterf**k
By Garland Davis
A Fuck Up: A fuck-up is something that happens routinely to all of us each day, as in, ”I took the wrong medication this morning, but on the bright side, I don’t have to worry about ticks or fleas for the next three months.” Fuck-ups are a feature of the human condition. They happen.
A SNAFU: While often used to describe minor malfunctions, SNAFU is a military acronym for Situation Normal, All Fucked Up. This actually describes the functionally disabled state of many organizations and personal lives. A SNAFU environment is usually manageable.
FUBAR: Fucked Up Beyond All Repair. Another military legacy. Something deemed FUBAR probably isn’t manageable.
A Shitshow: The Oxford English Dictionary a shitshow as a situation characterized by chaos, confusion or incompetence.
Clusterfuck: A clusterfuck may possess all the characteristics of a shitshow but is more properly identified by the decisions that produced it’s outcome. The term “Clusterfuck” dates as far back as the Vietnam War. It is military slang for doomed decisions resulting from the toxic combination of too many high ranking officers and too little on the ground information. The “cluster” part of the word allegedly refers to officers’ oak leaf cluster insignia.
There are three main contributors to a Clusterfuck:
Illusion. A cluster fuck begins with the primary decision makers belief that a goal is much easier to attain than in actuality.
Impatience: A misguided idea alone does not produce a clusterfuck. The idea needs a champion determined to push it, usually over the objections of more knowledgeable subordinates.
Incompetence: When errors of information and timing meet stupid decisions by people who should know better, disaster ensues.
The antidote to clusterfuckery is a willingness to confront the possibility of failure and disappointment and to plan accordingly. Look into the future and imagine you have failed. With better planning it won’t be a clusterfuck that has to be bleeped out.