A few days ago I got a message from WordPress letting me know I’ve now had 1337 likes on my blog posts. The first thing that came to my mind was to thank everyone who has ever liked a post, I hope you continue to enjoy what I write :). But does everyone using WordPress even know why that number is so significant? Or why WordPress still insists on congratulating us on such an odd number of likes on our blog?
Leet speak was something I first discovered in the early 2000s. I had been on the internet in the 90s but that was only at school and the internet back then wasn’t as big as it is now. It wasn’t until 2001 that we finally had the internet at home and I was welcomed into an amazing new world of information, fun and forums. Back then I spent a significant amount of free time playing videogames and I wanted to share my love of them online. I found out about forums, places where people could chat to one another about different subjects, and as soon as I joined one discussing The Sims, I was soon checking out all the others on the internet.
Once I’d really settled into foruming, even becoming a moderator for a very well-known Sims forum at the time, I discovered another for hardcore gamers. Being a girl (and having an obvious female username at the time) was a bit awkward in a predominantly male area of the internet at the time, but I was determined to not let that stop me getting to know everyone and chatting about the games we loved. But I hit a stumbling block after just a few days, I had no idea what half of the guys were saying.
Leet Speak, or l33t speak, or 1337 speak, stood for elite speak, and was a way that half of the forum members were communicating. By the early 2000s it wasn’t such a popular way of communicating though and while half the forum users chatting using the language the other half took to insulting them about how stupid it was. It took me a while to work out that much of leet speak was just replacing letters in words with numbers instead. It seemed simple and to me…a little silly
Once I’d learned the basics of leet it became easy to read everyone’s posts. The most obvious letters like E and A were replaced with 3 and 4 respectively. T was a 7 and L was a 1. There were a few more changes to words to make them ‘leet’ but once I’d gotten the hang of it, using and reading it was easy.
While understanding everyone’s new, and supposedly cool, language was fun – I felt like I had been let into some sort of secret club by understand what leet was – the reality of what I’d learned was hugely disappointing. What I had first thought of as ‘cool’ turned out to be silly and my initial instincts which thought of it as silly were true. I started to gravitate towards the conversations and forum members who didn’t care about talking leet.
Everyone who wrote in ‘leet’ seemed to have a massive chip on their shoulder, or wanted to show off how amazing they thought they were. While the boys speaking leet thought they were showing off their brilliance and how they were so much better than us, the rest of the forum goers, the girls and slightly older/more sensible guys knew it was a pathetic show of testosterone!
Leet has lost much of its previous meaning and standing today with a lot of people on WordPress never knowing why the number 1337 is mentioned in a notification. In my own experience leet was never fun or cool but just a barrier to normal online conversation. While it had been an obviously cool way to talk in the past (I guess) especially when you could be a part of an elite group of gamers who were above the others, it just wasn’t fun or cool to use when I started going online. I stopped visiting that forum after only being there about a month, it was too filled with testosterone and I much preferred talking about The Sims with a group of both male and females rather than fighting off unwanted male attention.
Leet never meant much to me in the way it did to others, but when I see a notification that says I have 1337 likes, I can’t help but smile at it. It reminds me of the internet I used to go on, one that, while filled with too many boys showing off their ‘skillz’…it also reminds me of an internet that was filled positivity. A world I used to go on where there wasn’t the dark side of social media (social media didn’t really exist in its current form yet), there wasn’t a lot of fake news, and an online world where I was my own class of elite by being the one person everybody turned to when they wanted advice on The Sims and even on life! I used to be pretty popular back then…at least I think I was 🙂 It was also a time before I began to be debilitated by OCD behaviours and thoughts which would get worse and worse through the coming years. So when I see 1337, even though it’s lost its significance, it will always put a smile on my face 😀
-For more on 1337 speak check out Wikipedia by clicking here.
Did you know what 1337 stood for? Have you ever used l33t speak before? What about other secret codes/languages? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂
I had no idea! Thanks for all the information, Cat!
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