There are a great number of things on the internet that I think should not exist (Youtube commenting, de-tagging Facebook photos, CNN). UrbanDictionary.com, however, is not one of those things. I think it’s one of the most beautiful user-driven websites out there and, although it does have it’s fair share of smut littered through it’s archive, in some ways I think it provides some of the more poignant and glaring insights into our world.
Two days ago, when randomly on the website, I noticed this atop the page:
Really UrbanDictionary.com, you want me to look up “Atlanta” like I don’t know everything about my home. I mean, look at my room, UrbanDictionary.com, I bleed ATL:
THAT’S MY NORTHWEST WALL, SON.
THAT’S 1990s DAVID JUSTICE, SON.
DON’T START WITH ME, URBANDICTIONARY.COM
So, that was my initial reaction, but eventually I thought about it again. Was I so proud of where I’m from that I was scared to see what others had to say about Atlanta? Was this my Lucy/Edmund/Peter/Susan moment and was that search bar the wardrobe? Continuing with this completely unnecessary analogy, if Atlanta was Narnia, would Mr. Tumnus have positive things to show me, or horrible, wretched things. The suspense was killing me, so I typed it in and pressed Search.
*****HOW TO USE ACADEMIA TO ANALYZE SEEMINGLY FRIVOLOUS THINGS THAT, IN ACTUALITY, ARE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, episode. 1*****
Currently, on UrbanDictionary, there are 50 definitions of Atlanta. That’s like 30, then a solid 20 more. 2 of these I’m disregarding for the purposes of the forthcoming statistical analysis because they refer to Atlanta as something other than a city.
Def. 19 — Atlanta: ‘A form of dance most appropriate for the rap and hip-hop genre; involves putting both hands on the ground while bouncing the ass up and down’
Guy 1 – Did you just see her drop it low??
Guy 2 – Yeah bro, she can Atlanta like no other!
Def. 23 — Atlanta: Beautiful, kind, caring and smart. Is usually the life of the part and is extremely popular. Always admired and always cares for those around her
Person a: Are you ok?
Person b: Yeah, thanks for asking, you’re such an Atlanta.
Person a: *blushes*
Those two people are idiots and need to never write anything ever again.
Okay, 48 remainding.
Within these 48 passages, I picked 20 words to see 1) how frequently they were mentioned and 2) how many authors used these words to describe an aspect of Atlanta. The words:
“CNN”, “Traffic”, “Braves/Falcons/Hawks/Thrashers”, “Coke/Coca”, “MLK/Martin”, “Olympics”, “Capital”, “Burb”, “School”, “Aquarium”, “Downtown”, “Airport”, “Ghetto”, “Nigg”, “Native/Transplant”, “Racist”, “Crime”, “Best”, “Crunk”, & “Rap”
You’ll notice some are abbreviated, as to capture the many derivations (Burb, Nigg) and some I used multiple words to get at a singular point (Braves/Falcons/Hawks/Thrashers, Native/Transplant).
While this graph is important, a word with a high number of mentions could have, in theory, come from a singular author. If the same word is coming up over and over again, passage to passage, however, we can begin to assume it is an important characteristic to the masses that have opinions on Atlanta. Those results:
The winner of this experiment is, unfortunately, “Ghetto”. While getting into all of the data would probably take an entirely new blog (please someone else do this, don’t make me, pretty please), just know that the authors had a variety of ways to use arguably the most innapropriatly used word in the English language.
“Lots of ghetto types in the south end”
“Decatur is a wannabe ghetto city that has nice homes with thuggish inhabitants”
“Clayton, one of da smaller counties but the ghetto quality of people make up for the small quantity”
“Atlanta also has dangerous ghettos like Bankhead, where rappers D4L, DFB, TI, Young Dro, and more came from”
“The ghetto areas get more funding in schools and stuff than the wealthier areas.”
“Rich people in the North, Regular people in the Middle, Ghetto in the South, loseres in the burbs”
“The fashion in ghetto ATL are wack. If you from the north you will get ass in ATL. No question.”
There’s more, but I’m going to leave the quotes (and this article) at that. I think the findings from those charts are enough to have a nice little discussion about how Atlanta is perceived, what defines Atlanta to insiders and outsiders, and how Atlantans feel about each other. I don’t have the slightest clue who these people are and it’s easy to say, “this is just UrbanDictionary, it’s supposed to be more humorous than informative,” but I think I’ve proved (to myself, at least) that it might shed the slightest bit of light on people and the places they inhabit.
At the very least, it’s more informative that the Atlanta City Council Website.
(ONCE AGAIN, DO NOT GO TO IT. IT’S TERRIFYING. IT’S ALWAYS HALLOWEEN AT THE ATLANTA CITY COUNCIL WEBSITE).