Yelp Wordmap Edition Will Help You Avoid New York Hipsters


The iPhone generation knows Yelp as a consistently proliferating, reliable, and omniscient review database. The new kale and vegan steak place might as well give up trying to advertise; if Yelp reviews said that they don't use cruelty-free kale, you won't step through the door.

The newest Yelp creation is Wordmap, which shows the user heat-maps representing the concentrations of a specific term on the map. For example, say you want to take your grandparents on a stroll through Manhattan, and hope to spare them the sight of overzealous hipsters. Yelp can highlight the most heavily hipster-populated areas in the city, like the downtown NYU campus or Essex Street, and you can go about your day in the posh Upper East Side.

No one is mocking the hipsters any more than they mock themselves. A hipster is a hipster is a hipster, and I have been called one myself. Self-expression is the key to self-discovery, and if finding yourself involves sheathing your body with over-dyed or under-dyed heirlooms and thrift shop regalia, then by all means continue to purchase worn (and given up for good reason) clothing. Mother Earth thanks you. 

Wordmap's shtick is that it comes in handy to locals and tourists alike. You can roll out of bed with a gnarly craving for bacon and eggs, type "bacon" into Yelp, and you can see a heat map of the most bacon-friendly food joints by concentration. Tourists can use Yelp as a guide to the most worthy eats, the best clubs, or the most diverse neighborhoods, for a true taste of the New York experience.

However, this new development might isolate different cultural or ethnic groups. For example, if the so-called "yuppies" insist on spending time exclusively in the Yelp hot-spots containing other Yuppies, they will very much stand divided from other identifiable social groups. In the plurality that is New York's diversity, Yelp's Wordmap might actually encourage bigoted individuals to spend time within the confines of the "familiar," and spiral out into elitism, ethnocentrism, and possibly even assist with racism. With Yelp's Wordmap, ignorance is bliss, and not in a good way.

Despite the negative aspect of stark generalizations, word of mouth just isn't cutting it anymore. Yelp found the perfect way to consolidate people's opinions on everything from food to concert venues to nail salons. The best part is that you might not have to walk past a glazed-eyed crowd of short-haired girls and long-haired boys dressed in ripped versions of their parents' summer camp clothes, Instagraming each other's Sixteen Handles frozen yogurt concoctions and smelling of Tibetan Store hemp.