Prepare for the Era of Area Code SnobberyS

Unbeknownst to this New Yorker, if you live in the Big Apple and don't have a 212 area code, you're a certified nobody. Says one privileged 212-haver: "I don't pick up 917, 646, and definitely not 347." Ughhhh.

While Elaine Benes grappled with the difficulties of the non-212 area code years ago, a post on the WSJ's Metropolis blog explains how the 212 area code is now becoming a status symbol in the New York tech scene, like some really cool New York Foursquare badge. Unsurprisingly, the cool kids at Foursquare are right at the center of 212 mania:

"I had been thinking about it for a long time," [Foursquare co-founder Naveen] Selvadurai said. After moving to New York from Connecticut, he had to get a new phone and carrier. "I swapped my number to something new - 646 - to match my New York billing address but I really secretly wanted a 212," he says. "But I never really went after it."

That is, until Selvadurai noticed that one of his Foursquare employees had a 212 number. When fellow Foursquare co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley pointed out that Twitter co-founder (and Foursquare angel investor) Jack Dorsey, a California resident, "rolls 212," Selvadurai had heard enough. (Crowley admits to coveting a 212 himself. "Sure, I'd upgrade. All the cool kids are doing it," he says.)

The idea here is that a 212 area code signifies your status as a real, old-school New Yorker—one who was around when Times Square was full of sex workers instead of tourists. Of course, that was way before cell phones were around to begin with, so this whole business is pretty silly. One internet dude described its appeal as being akin to that of "fake vintage T-shirts," which sounds about right. Yet, as the WSJ points out, 212 numbers can fetch up to $2000 on Ebay.

I guess it's unsurprising, in this era of jockeying for the shortest Twitter handle, to want the coolest cell phone number around. But I think I'm going to start screening 212 calls anyway. [WSJ]

Image credit alq666