In the early days of being a librarian, I remember when The Urban Dictionary website launched. I remember some people in my literary and library circles talking about how it was a useless, crappy, sub-cultural icon in the way of many of the other sites at the time they looked down upon—LiveJournal, MySpace, etc. But I absolutely loved The Urban Dictionary. Where else could I go to figure out what on earth my students and younger colleagues were saying without looking like a complete dork and having to ask them directly?
The Urban Dictionary continued to be a source of useful information to me, and as a reference source for which many library users over time were very grateful. My mom even—“Hey, next time someone at work says something you don’t understand, just look it up here.”
And now so many years later I actually have two entries in The Urban Dictionary. There’s something visceral about knowing that something I wrote, something that came out of my head, is now recorded in the lexicon for all ages (or at least until the interwebs explode due to the zombie apocalypse). These entries are more meaningful to me than having published my book. Silly, right? Maybe yes, maybe no.
The two entries are related: Twitter Glitter and Facebook Fairy Dust. Both describe the act of marking one’s significant other (or desired significant other) using social media—mentions, check-ins at the same place, comments, likes, etc. It’s a way to tell the world “Hey! This person is mine. Back off.”
The phrase references the long-standing (somewhat) covert practice of women (and some men) of wearing glitter-laden cosmetics intentionally—so that you can get close to your significant other, spread your glitter, and thereby mark him or her. It’s a warning to others that this person’s taken. And if you see your own significant other covered in mysterious glittery sparkles, that’s a good indicator that there’s been another fox in your henhouse. This is also why strippers never, ever wear glitter. They know better than to get their clients in trouble at home.
The origin of the phrases was a spontaneous conversation with Sean Casserley and Michael Porter at the Internet Archive’s Books and Browsers Conference. I had mentioned on Twitter that Sean was saying smart stuff, and his wife immediately replied back that yes indeed he was very smart and she was a lucky woman (or some such thing). And I said “Did she just Twitter Glitter you?” And thus the phenomenon was born. [Please note: I didn’t really think Susan was Twitter Glittering Sean…it was just where the term came from. My apologies to Susan for telling this story kind of flippantly and for being insensitive.] “Facebook Fairy Dust” is the same thing, just on Facebook. Alliteration, baby. And yes, before you get all up in my face, we talked about much more heavy, serious, and inspiring things at the Books and Browsers Conference…this was just one of those hallway break conversations that lives in infamy.
So back to The Urban Dictionary. Yay! I am pleased to be a part of this great collaborative work of popular culture. I hope that you, and your loved ones, never Twitter Glitter or Facebook Fairy Dust each other—but at least now you know what it is.