Thursday, November 11, 2010

the DMV . . .

is as familiar to me as saying "MoCo" (never, ever "MontCo," which is for Pennsylvania) and "PG" or "NoVA." Growing up, I heard it everywhere from the halls of my high school to WPGC. And yet some people are pretty upset about it, says TBD, who did a survey on it yesterday on Twitter and Facebook.

Certainly it's fine to not care what someone's nickname for the D.C. area is, but I'm weirded out that the Twitterati and my homies at Greater Greater Washington have such a distaste for it. Yes, it sounds like the Department of Motor Vehicles. But, on the other hand, in Maryland we call it the MVA, so that connection doesn't exist to me.

I wonder if the people in the TBD survey were put off by a name that holds the District in the same regard as Maryland and Virginia. A name that puts the city on the same footing as the suburbs? The horror! I don't know about you, but I see it as a mark of regionalism. The District needs Maryland and Virginia as much as they need the District - for workers or jobs, for food or drink, for places to gather and places to spread out. They are symbiotic, and a name like the DMV reflects that in a snappy shorthand that just feels cooler than other regional monikers (among them my current home in the "Delaware Valley," with Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs - here, nicknames render the city itself completely irrelevant.)

Besides, look at the Twitter feed for #dmv. After a single day, TBD's survey has completely disappeared under an avalanche of callouts to Howard University and the rapper Wale. It seems like DMV is pretty much a done deal. Especially if it's already being used on WPGC, which is a serious tastemaker. That station was listened to by everyone at my high school - white and black, rich and poor, White Oak and Olney. Everyone.

Long live the #dmv!


MandyJ said...

Thanks for mentioning our rather informal survey - it was eye-opening for sure.

As a fairly new resident to the area, I was pretty perplexed by the whole thing. I have several friends originally from this area that have always called it the DMV, so I came here calling it that as well. I had no idea it was such a big deal until the complaints started.

Critically Urban said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Critically Urban said...

Nobody at my high school (Einstein) listened to WPGC but for a few cliques. And I had never heard the DMV (neither had my other black friends) until it became an "issue" in the news recently, despite living here my entire life. There's a segment that might have been using and will continue to use that reference, but for the most of us, it just isn't catchy.

Cyndy said...

I grew up here and used to listen to WPGC, or "PGC" as we used to call it back when I was in high school. I've DC and PG and DelMarVa, but never DMV. That must be a new-ish term or else I'm just out of it. I probably will continue to only say DMV when I'm talking about the MD DMV. Hopefully people will know what I mean.

David Alpert said...

For me, it's really not about the suburbs vs. the city. I think if all the "kids" were calling New York/New Jersey/Connecticut the YJC, that might be odd, but I wouldn't have the same reaction.

For me, it's the association with the motor vehicle department. Not living in Maryland, I don't think of it as the MVC, but the DMV. The DC area already has a strong association with bureaucracy, which isn't something I want to see strengthened.

Would you want to see it get the acronym "IRS", if the 3 jurisdictions had those letters, for example? That's what it feels like. I'm sure if "DMV" gets strengthened, maybe the mental association with the department of motor vehicles will lessen, which is apparently how it is for you, who's heard the term for a long time.

Clearly there is something of a generational thing going on. I guess I am officially "old" now that there are some words the "kids" are using that I recoil at. I guess I just have to get used to this happening.

David Rotenstein said...

This argument reminds me of the flap that developed surrounding the use of the phrase "Delaware Valley" to describe the greater Philadelphia region. Longtime Philly residents complained that "Delaware Valley" was an artifact created by local media outlets (e.g., ABC affiliate WPVI) to brand their newscasts. Whatever the origins, I just did a Google search on philadelphia+ "delaware valley" and got more that 6.5 million hits.