Gentrifying the Language of the Internet


Perhaps the recently erected Twitter glossary, designed to explain things like “retweet” and “favorite” to bewildered new users, is indeed helpful to someone (dads?). But to whatever extent it is a guide to what Twitter is, it’s also a glass-and-steel-condo-like monument to what the Internet was, when some words meant other things, like “favorite,” which was (n) a thing you liked more than any other thing, not (n) a hollow unit of social currency or (v) a thing that one does to remind another human that his or her life has some value to you that is greater than absolutely nothing.

Let’s look at how some other words have changed over the last ten years, like one of those always mesmerizing gritty-and-authentic-then-but-clean-and-gross-now slideshows.

Hashtag, Urban Dictionary, 2010:

A hashtag is a stupid thing people put in front of random words for no reason. It is just the pound sign you can find it on social networks like Facebook or Twitter. It is just another 21st century made up thing. A hashtag is, #Beautiful #Urbandictionary”

Hashtag, Twitter, 2014:

The # symbol is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users.

FF, Urban Dictionary, 2004:

FF means many things, some already said, I might (most likely will) repeat.

#1. Fist fucking- the act of stuffing a fist up a pussy *owch*

#2. Foot fucking- a type of masturbation that women do to their male partners dick.

#3. Final fantasy- a game played by geeks, such as my boyfriend, that I should probably learn to play.

#4. Fan Fiction- a type of writing that uses already made characters from books and movies and such that have sex, also called slash… gay LOTR ones at

#5. Father fucker- a person who likes to fuck their dad/friend’s dad.

#6. Fucking freak- … me…

FF, Twitter, 2014:

#FF stands for “Follow Friday.” Twitter users often suggest who others should follow on Fridays by tweeting with the hashtag #FF.

@, Urban Dictionary, 2007:

A symbol standing for the word “at” that in turn symbolizes lazyness and stupidity. I mean, seriously, who sat down and thought up a symbol to shorten a two letter word? WHY? Your time could be better spent counting blades of grass in your front lawn. At least that might teach the retarded bastard to count! If you now anyone that abbreviates the word “at” as “@”, cease all conversations with said person, as their retardedness may rub off on you.

@, Twitter, 2014:

The @ sign is used to call out usernames in Tweets, like this: Hello @Twitter! When a username is preceded by the @ sign, it becomes a link to a Twitter profile. See also Replies and Mentions. Read more about replies and mentions.

Bio, Urban Dictionary, 2005

Used in many MMORPG’s to indicate that you will be away to go to the restroom.

Dude1 “Hey dude, sorry, but I need to take a bio break because it feels as if I have a turtle-head poking out.”

Dude2 “Dude, please, just say your going bio. I don’t want a picture dude.”

Bio, Twitter, 2014:

A short personal description of 160 characters or fewer used to define who you are on Twitter. Read about how to change your bio.

Twitter, Urban Dictionary, 2009:

The gap between a womans TWAT and SHITTER. The female equivelent of the BARSE. NO MANS LAND.

I licked her TWITTER.

Twitter, Twitter, 2014:

An information network made up of 140-character messages from all over the world. Sign up!

Photo by j-No