Sunday, May 2, 2010

Urban dictionary

My roommate and several of her sorority sisters were in our room getting ready for a fraternity formal the other night, and within the many conversations floating around our tiny dorm (that wasn’t going to be ours anymore scarily soon), I heard someone discussing the word “jank.” This slang word wasn’t one that I had ever heard of, and apparently most of the other girls hadn’t either. The ones who WERE up to date on their lingo explained it to us, but the skeptics decided to verify this. Where would you find the definition for such a word? Urban dictionary, of course.
Urban dictionary is notoriously questionably, and not very reputable because of the types of words it contains and the fact that anyone can add their vulgar 2 cents’ worth. Nonetheless, I was wondering what would come up, if anything, if I looked up the phrase “American Dream.” I wanted to see how the people our own generation defined it, despite the high probability of crassness. The good news is that it was defined. The bad news is…well, we will see in a minute.
The first three definitions that came up were as follows (and these are very censored and edited):
A) to sue someone for something incredibly stupid and live off of the money.
B) to otherwise make a lot of money for not a lot of effort and spend the rest of your life being rich and getting plastic surgery
C) the ideal American life as fed by the media: 2.3 children, white picket fences surrounding a split-level house with a dog and a cat, and a station wagon or a minivan to take the kids to sports practice; impossible by its nature

Related words, again omitting the inappropriate ones: house hunters, dogsprawl, american nightmare, suburbanites, hgtv, freedom, illegal immigrant, amexican, freedom, success, lottery
What struck me was how terribly pessimistic these definitions were of the American Dream. There is so little faith in the intentions of people, their materialism, and the impossibility of the American Dream evident in these definitions. It is pretty sad that the writers of these definitions feel this way about the “ideal American life.” However, I do realize that they are not too credible, judging from the lack of education that their pre-edited posts indicated, and the fact that they spend their time on a site like Urban Dictionary.

Just to clarify some of the unfamiliar related words:
Yuppie scum: those who tend to be separated from philistines by a greater income, a higher intelligence, higher education, and a greater appreciation of the arts. But like the philistine, people who are yuppie scum are big time conformists and often times care little for the environment (unless they somehow feel that their monetary gain is significantly worth their efforts.) They are very materialistic, constantly over consuming that which takes relatively little time to get tossed in the trash. Yuppie Scum buy, or build, a newer, larger house every two or three years with little concern for the effect this has on the land (see McMansion). They love, and are a driving force behind many of the demolition, renovation and “anti-clutter" shows on such channels as TLC, HGTV…

Amexican: an illegal immigrant from Mexico that works in the fields or in a factory and is here to accomplish the Amexican Dream.

Dogsprawl: A widespread phenomenon whereas a person will buy a house based on its expansive lawn because they own, or are intending to own, one or more medium to large sized dogs.

1 comment:

  1. As sad as that is, I do think that the American Dream has become much more of an expectation than an actual goal in modern society. Many people in essence expect to live off of the work of others (parents, lawsuits, etc) to achieve their wealth. Either that, or they find ways to achieve the dream through as little work as possible, as was noted in the second definition. I thought the first definition of the American Dream was especially funny (and kinda true) and instantly made me think of a news story of when a burglar sued the family he tried to rob because he essentially fell through the roof and injured himself while trying to break in. While possibly considered opportunistic, I ultimately thought it demonstrated the mind set many in modern America have. I think the main problem of this is the fact that many take advantage of the different interpretations of many of America’s laws and the intentions of the beliefs of America. Ultimately, I have noticed that the American work ethic has gone down for many and this has in response affected the modern American Dream. Overall, cool post! I thought that it really looked into what many today think of the American Dream and into Americans in general.