Why are people posting their Urban Dictionary names on Instagram?

A bit like when someone shares a screenshot of a song they’re streaming... we simply don’t care.

Ah, Urban Dictionary name definitions. A trend we all thought had long been left behind in 2008 (much like pop punk, indie sleaze, hell, even Lindsay Lohan’s acting career) has now been revived thanks to a handy Instagram sticker created by user @bymayuuu. We have the app’s new Add Yours sticker to thank for this, the same feature behind the We’ll plant one tree for every pet picture” fiasco a few weeks ago.

So why have more than three million users posted their unique name definitions on social media? For one, it puts an amusing slant on objectively boring names, like Ben or John. According to Urban Dictionary, Ben is characterised as a duck overlord who can perform mind control on ducks of all kinds, while John is just another word for the coolest motherfucker on the planet. Fun and oddly specific. As for my own name? Well, Jade is beautiful” and kind”. Who wouldn’t take that?

Urban Dictionary has actually been around since 1999, founded by then-freshman at California Polytechnic State University student Aaron Peckham. Over the years, its popularity as a crowdsourced dictionary for slang words and wacky social media terms was compounded by the fact that people could simply upload any definition of their choosing.

Some Twitter and Instagram users are less than impressed with this trend, though. I don’t know who needs to hear this but nobody is reading a full page screenshot of what your name means in Urban Dictionary,” one tweeted. So people don’t believe in astrology but believe the origins of their first name from Urban Dictionary have some sort of meaning,” said another.

Some food for thought. And a definition for the word Names” on the platform, posted in 2020, echoes this sentiment:

A very common thing found on Urban Dictionary. 1. 50 per cent of the time their definitions are written by kids who glorify anyone with that name because they like someone with that name. 2. The other 50 per cent of the time their definitions are written by kids who are complaining about someone with that name. Urban Dictionary has way too many names on it.”

Onto the next throwback internet trend, then.

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