Where does KYS come from?
While its exact origins are unclear, the acronym KYS emerges in internet slang in the early 2000s, seen on Urban Dictionary by 2003. Over the 2000s, KYS became a popular insult on internet message-boards and video-game forums, meant to convey the hyperbolic sentiment of “You just did something so humiliating you might as well just go kill yourself rather than live with the shame.”
KYS spread to other social media in the 2010s, where the acronym began to be used more maliciously to mock people considered objectionable in some way. Around this time, a meme emerged featuring a dapper mid-20th-century businessman with one hand held in a “stop talking” gesture alongside the sentence Kill yourself. By 2015, the meme saw some use as a reaction image to a post from someone upset about a personal matter, especially romance and relationships.
Know Your Meme
According to Google Trends, lookups for KYS spiked in fall 2016, corresponding to an increasing call by gamers and other internet users for people to stop using KYS over cyberbullying and suicide concerns.
Who uses KYS?
KYS is used across social media, especially by young adult males, sometimes in the phrase go kys. In social forums like Reddit, KYS is often posted as a humorous rebuke to an ignorant comment. In online video-game chat services like Steam, the acronym is issued after a player makes a blunder. On other social media like Facebook and Twitter as well as young-adult text-messaging, KYS is sometimes used to taunt and bully people.
Since it makes light of suicide and can be considered a form of cyberbullying, KYS is widely considered very offensive and a potentially harmful term. Some forums flag or ban commenters for using KYS. Younger internet users are increasingly policing their peers about use of KYS online
Epic fail kys b. #PS4share
@yoitzmiguelito, March, 2018
noct is a fatshaming asshole and has told me to "kys, fatty" multiple times. i saw this with my own eye
@limbclinic, February, 2018
What’s in a name? A death threat by any other name is a crime to tweet. The [Crown Prosecution Service] may therefore have great difficulty drawing the line between acceptable online jokes and authentic threats. Though many view ‘kys’ as funny, it can cause genuine distress.
Amelia Tait, New Statesman, August, 2017