John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
This wonderfully poisonous map shows what Yahoo!'s search engine thinks of places, such as "Chicago is so two years ago" and "Philadelphia is ugly."
Who knew Yahoo! had such an attitude? Type the name of a city into the search bar, and the autocomplete function will invariably spit out an insult: "Philadelphia is ugly," "Detroit is crap," "Memphis is a hellhole," "Washington is Hollywood for ugly people."
These crabby opinions are supposedly coming from popular searches that people make on Yahoo!, no doubt supplemented with predictions made by the engine's own algorithms. Some are dumb, like "Columbia is here" and "Boise is not a state." Others might leave you scratching your head over whether "Pittsburgh is the new Portland," say, or Minneapolis is the "new gay." But the vast majority are petty, poisonous little barbs, like "Seattle is depressing," "New York is killing me," and "Chicago is so two years ago" (it's not true, people!).
Give it up to Keir Clarke for detecting this vein of crotchetiness and curating it for our pleasure in wonderful visual fashion. Clarke has been steadily building an "Autocomplete Map" for the entire planet with state and city names replaced with Yahoo! search suggestions. He recently entered a slew of new city and town names for the United States and Britain, taking the peevish cartography to "another level," he writes at Google Maps Mania. To find out what people think about your neck of the woods, just keep zooming in to find more and more locally offensive suggestions.
Here are a couple screenshots to get you started. Residents of the East Coast live in states variously considered to be "homophobic" (Maine), a "dump" (New Jersey), and simply "the worst" (Delaware):
A few utterly expected results from the Mid-Atlantic region:
Minnesota and Wisconsin are locked in a pissing match over who is more awesome, and meanwhile "Idaho is stupid" and "Arizona is racist":
Don't think folks aren't talking trash about Europeans, either:
The U.K. in particular is rife with online negativity, with burgs described as "rubbish," "scum" and "a toilet":
This world view asks North Americans to consider the ages-old question, Is it better to be evil or boring?
Images from Keir Clarke's Autocomplete Map