Shakespeare famously asked ‘What’s in a name?’ and fast forward to 2021, I highly doubt he could have ever anticipated that the answer would come from Urban Dictionary. But, here we are, smack bang in the middle of the digital age. And since fast trend cycles reign supreme, we are all at the mercy—no matter how off the grid you claim to go—of the latest one to crop up. You’d have to be hiding underneath an asteroid rock floating in space to not know that people are currently posting definitions of their names written by strangers online both on their Instagram Stories and Twitter. Though social media might be considered ‘has been’ for some brands, it still has a grip on most of us. To be honest, it feels like creepy déjà vu for me, cue the flashbacks of preteen me—donning cut-out 3D glasses and knee-high converse—which I have tried so hard to scrub out of my memory.
Urban Dictionary has been a staple of the internet for decades, archiving all the weird and wonderful words the world has to offer. Held as dear to us internet dwellers as Wikipedia, the crowdsourced digital library has chronicled slang, phrases—with its fair share of not-so-safe-for-work words and not-so-safe-for-anyone terms—and the inescapable jargon of the net, since its inception in 1999. As the home for ubiquitous terms of social media’s past, it also has a large subsection dedicated to people’s own names. Instagram’s latest obsession, aside from mushroom lamps, sees users having their celebrity moment of reposting screenshots of the many meanings behind their names.
Having your superstar moment is made all the more easier now with the trend garnering, as of now, 3 million people’s names on Instagram to a tag created by Yunas Caesar (@bymayuuu) which connects to the app’s new ‘Add Yours’ sticker feature. Add Yours allows users to create a public thread and “content chain” of sorts that follows on from one topic—just like live chain mail. Popular stickers have previously included innocuous topics like users’ “favourite photo from this summer” and the ever-so-viral picture of their pet as a means to help plant trees (which quickly exploded online and forced the company behind the challenge to delete it after 10 minutes).
Over the past week, the simple prompt “show us ur name in Urban Dictionary 🤥⭐️” has probably flooded your feed with dictionary meanings for just about everyone in your following list. In an Instagram Story post, Caesar stated that he “never thought” about the trend going viral because he started it simply out of boredom.
So, why is this even a thing? Well, Urban Dictionary’s name definitions are kind of out there… to put it nicely. The posts are usually dated from several years ago and have since accumulated many likes from users of the iconic platform. Between the oddly specific definitions that seem like they’ve come right out of the anonymous DMs of The Unsent Project and other times vague adjectives, the name results are entertaining to say the least.
Self-aggrandising aside, definitions are often uplifting and positive, giving the people that end up sharing them a little ego boost knowing that years ago, someone, somewhere documented their name with a beautiful interpretation to go with it. Of course, I had to look up my own name (for research purposes), and entries under ‘Francesca’ ranged from a 2013 last-ditch love confession to pull the brakes on a break up, to another from 2017 that defined the name Francesca as meaning “freedom” in Italian. Honestly, being called “closest to perfect,” “funny,” and “the hottest girl you’ll ever meet” isn’t a bad thing in my book—pretty accurate actually, so I’ll take it.
However, none of this is new. It’s actually really reminiscent of our childhood for some of us—though we really wish it wasn’t. Picture this, you’re bored and probably in the middle of your 5th period class, which you should be paying attention to. Anyway, time is ticking away and you decide to dangerously brave the teacher’s no-phone rule and whip out your device—probably a Blackberry 8520, or maybe an iPhone if you’re a late 00s baby—and you search up your name to see if you’re as cool as you know you are. In other words, the use of Urban Dictionary to find more about what your name says about you isn’t new at all, but it now seems to come with the potential backlash of the cringe police’s accusing fingers being pointed at you if you chose to post about it.
As always, wildfires spread, and quickly, the Urban Dictionary name trend found its way to Twitter’s trending page, with some tweets deserving some serious tip jar money for how funny they are. ‘Urban Dictionary’ was trending all day on Monday 22 November as the hit or miss definitions were posted by eager users showing off their UD-tailored definitions.
Some even took to searching up their favourite Kpop idols too.
Other users, however, weren’t digging the craze coming back.
Though it has its bitter retractors, the trend is harmless. It seems to be the equivalent to flipping through the horoscope pages in a magazine to see whether you’ll have a perfect day or not. Currently making waves on TikTok, the search term ‘Your Name On Urban Dictionary’ has racked up over 50,000 views so far. The fad has been met with equal amounts of snarky gen Z commentary too.
So heal your inner child a little—you’re probably sneakily getting ready to snoop out your own name—and find out what weird and wacky definition you’ve been assigned.
If you’re an avid TikTok addict like me, then you must have heard the words ‘inner child’ while scrolling through your For You Page. If you don’t know this term yet, then let me explain. The inner child is a concept prevalent in modern psychology that refers to a person’s internal childlike characteristics. These characteristics often exist deep within our consciousness and manifest throughout those developing years.
Online coach Matt Cama described this psychological observation in a video, “Our inner child is a subpersonality that exists within our subconscious mind and it is [often] an accumulation of all [our] unmet needs growing up. When we weren’t seen, when we weren’t heard, when we weren’t physically comforted, when we didn’t have that safe space to express our childlike wonder.”
Fueled by what appears to be a combination of nostalgia and a new sense of reflection as well as an understanding of trauma—perhaps born from this pandemic—the app has become saturated with a multitude of different trends, dialogues and expressions pertaining to healing that inner child. #innerchild and #innerchildhealing have both attracted over 200 million and 80 million views respectively.
Inner child trauma can manifest itself in numerous ways, the most commonly mentioned is that of having a ‘child-like’ response to an ‘adult’ situation. Even if your inner child is not traumatised and is in fact happy and healthy, everyone still has this type of reaction within them. TikTok’s conscious and subconscious exploration of this has created numerous trends around childhood. These have included nostalgic compilations of the users’ childhood, morphing into a younger version of their parents and more.
Another was the wave of videos—around 650, 000—that were made to Dr. Dog’s song ‘Where’d All the Time Go?’ The trend involved morphing a childhood image or clip of yours into where you are today; this could be a comparison of your changed appearance, new home, mental health or even the loss of a loved one. The line ‘Where’d all the time go?’ is used in the videos to reflect the disbelief of the time that has passed, with many users even crying at the changes.
Now, another trend is starting to surface and it’s even more emotional for some. Performed to the beautiful 1950s-esque vocals of November Ultra’s original song ‘Come into my arms’, users enact a conversation with their younger selves. What seems like just yet another nostalgic trend is actually quite profound—individuals seem to be doing some healing work without even realising it.
Doctor Diana Raab, author and recurring writer for Psychology Today, told Refinery29 that although some deep psychological work may be needed to heal your inner child, there are small things you can do yourself to start journey, “You can take care of your inner child by writing some dialogue from your inner child’s point of view.” Almost unknowingly, that’s what TikTok users have been doing—engaging with their inner child through an imagined conversation. “This gives a voice to your pain. Sometimes that’s all the pain needs,” Raab continued.
She also suggested that even just thinking about the things you loved as a child and looking at old photos of yourself can help nourish that still-existing kid within you. Keeping in mind that those earlier mentioned trends did that too, it seems like TikTok might be the gen Z’s new medium of choice for therapy. Who knows? What we do know however, is that it’s really allowing people to be open in a way other apps haven’t.
This new trend involves you acting as your younger self while asking your current self questions about your present life and if anything you had wished for in the past has now come true. Of course, as always on TikTok, there are some great comedic videos but a large portion of users target some really emotional hurdles their younger self struggled with or will struggle with. The subjects range from self-esteem, discussing coming out, transitions, overcoming or not overcoming eating disorders and other traumas, abuse of all kinds, marriage, achieving their child’s dream career (or not), family relationships and more.
For another example on how a conversation like this occurs, TikTok user @alluringskull’s video (real name Jory) ‘talking to 17-year-old me’ where they discuss their coming out is a perfect demonstration:
‘17-year-old’ Jory: “You look good!”
Current Jory: “You mean you look good.”
‘17-year-old’ Jory: “Did we come out as a woman?”
Current Jory: “Non-binary but we’re still figuring it out.”
‘17-year-old’ Jory proceeds to ask if they are alone as a result of their coming out. Responding with great emotion, current Jory divulges their 9-year-long relationship, new life and the loss of a loved one to addiction. The intense therapy-like conversation coupled with the beautiful vocals of Ultra are enough to send you into floods of tears with the comment section of such videos found littered with emotional comments of others sharing this same sensitivity to their own inner children.
Perhaps this is another prominent aspect of TikTok’s success as an app. For many, Instagram represents what is fake. Now maybe, TikTok represents the most authentic parts of our lives—a safe space saturated with psychologists, wellness, journaling, healing and much more.