1337 5p34k

C5664DEF-6BE3-48C6-BE1C-4C38CCB88054Yesterday I received this strange notification from WordPress congratulating me on having received 1,337 followers on my blog.

That seemed to me to be a rather random number to have generated a special WordPress notification. I got one at 1,000 followers and I figured my next one might be when I reached 1,500 or 2,000. But 1,337? Huh?

So I typed “1337” into Google and learned that 1337 means “elite.” Apparently, “1337” is a sort of webspeak kind of symbol for elite. And “1337” is also referred to as “Leet.”

Curiosity piqued, I did a Google search on “Leet.”

LEET (1337) is a written language or cipher used in online gaming, emails, text messaging, tweeting, and other electronic communication. The root of the term “leet” is the word “elite” — translated as 31337 — and 1337 was initially developed as an exclusionary language: a way to encode text so that messages could only be read by the initiated. The defining characteristic of 1337 is substitution of symbols and numbers for letters (for example, in the term “1337,” 1=L, 3=E and 7=T).

Apparently there is this whole language called “leet speak,” and its alphabet is a specialized form of symbolic writing. According to Wikipedia, leet originated on bulletin board systems (BBS) in the 80s. Back then, having “elite” status on a BBS allowed a user special access and privileges.

Leet symbols, especially the number 1337, have become internet memes that have spilled over into popular culture. I guess I’m not so in touch with pop culture because I’d never heard of leet speak or was aware of any special significance to the number 1337.

And while doing my Google research, I also came across “1337 5p34k,” which translates to “leet speak” in, well, leet speak.

So essentially, “leet” is shorthand for the word “elite,” which, in leet speak, means “better than everyone else.” And apparently, the 1337 badge from WordPress is WordPress’ way of telling you that your blog has somehow achieved elite status for having reached 1,337 followers. Woo hoo!

I suppose this is a good, albeit weird, kind of recognition. But I came across another definition of leet speak that defined it as “the language used by geeks to help them identify one another.”

Now I’m not so pleased anymore. I’ve been called many unflattering things in my life, but “geek”? Seriously?