The message began in grave tones.
"The fight for our identity in the hearts and minds of the Washington Metro Region has new entered a new level of battlefield," read an alert posted to the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation's Facebook page.
The cause of this consternation? The word Hyattsvilification. It is a new neologism, the combination of Hyattsville and vilification, published in the Washington Posts' Style Invitational Report on July 12. The popular language feature invited readers to create new words for some small prizes.
Hyattsvilification, submitted by former Greenbelt resident David Smith, won second place honors in the contest. The word defines "the reflexive dismissal of anything located in Prince George's County."
"This synechdoche…is another form of both the apotheosis and arrival of the Hyattsville renaissance as the cutting edge of Prince George's County's revitalization and redevelopment," continued the Hyattsville CDC Facebook message. "We remain the target for every Wash. Post comment section slur that can be leveled by an insecure, resentful chorus of narrow-minded haters."
Hyattsville CDC President Stuart Eisenberg, the author of the dramatic Facebook post, explained that he was lightheartedly trying to draw local attention to the new term. According to him, the term could prove useful to describe regional attitudes about Hyattsville and Prince George's County as a whole.
"It was some excellent little wordplay," said Eisenberg in an interview. "It was an excellent portrayal of the Prince George's County politics as reported in the Post."
Eisenberg was critical of the Washington Post's coverage of county and local issues, noting that crimes occurring in unincorporated areas surrounding Hyattsville are often inaccurately identified in stories.
"I'm not quire sure how if somebody who lives in Landover or lives in Seabrook can be identified as a Hyattsville man," said Eisenberg. "I'm not sure how Hyattsville fits into the profile of the story."
Eisenberg also singled out commenters on local news websites for perpetuating Hyattsvilification. A recent Washington Post story on young families moving into Hyattsville drew a barrage of borderline-to-flagrantly racist comments from readers, which in turn sparked local discussions of the area's representation in the media.