The site’s numbers don’t initially look all that impressive, until you realize that they begin anew everyday. Last week for instance, “faggot” was used 217,699 times. As of today, so far it has been used somewhere in the neighborhood of 9,00 times across the Twitterverse.
“Words and phrases like “faggot,” “dyke,” “no homo,” and “so gay” are used casually in everyday language, despite promoting the continued alienation, isolation and — in some tragic cases — suicide of sexual and gender minority (LGBTQ) youth,” says the site’s founder, Dr. Kristopher Wells. While he doesn’t think that the words are primarily used in a “hateful” manner, the fact remains that they are words that evoke feelings of hurt, even when used in a joking manner.
Two interesting aspects of the counters immediately caught my eye though — the first is how little the word “dyke” gets bandied out when stacked up against it’s more formidable(?) peers. On the “all time” list since the site began, “faggot” has already been used in excess of 2.5 million times compared with “dyke’s” “scant” 351,206. Even hate speech seems to be a man’s world.
The other thing that caught my eye was that the Twitter counter still clicked upward even when the condition of the Tweet was positive, as in: “Hey guys, you’ll never believe how many times people use the word “faggot” on Twitter! It’s horrifying! #NoHomophobes.” While these sorts of tweets are considerably fewer than the more prevalent: “I think John Travolta’s penis looks really beautiful through his tight pants… No Homo,” you still have to take the numbers with a grain of salt.
Inherently, the site is a good one though, as it asks for nothing more than viewers to keep in mind that while certain words might mean nothing to you, they can have an impact on others. And when the words can be counted and looked at, it’s a huge impact. Sometimes a really powerful idea can evolve from something as simple as a comprehensive script-tracking algorithm calculated to extrapolate quantifiable data from a social media aggregate.