Individuals who post comments on the comedy blog stuffwhitepeoplelike.com love to express their deepest thoughts on race. On Feb. 14, an Internet user under the alias “screwobama” wrote, “I would’ve completely been pissed if i got fucked and was born in a non-white country.” Although website owners may like these people because controversial comments result in more hits and increased ad revenue, many readers — myself included — can’t help thinking that anyone who posts this kind of comment is probably an asshole.
Like the elusive bathroom stall graffiti artist, anonymous Internet commentators frequently say things that would be unacceptable in a face-to-face interaction. On stuffwhitepeoplelike.com, a satirical blog that lists the things white people supposedly like, many of these comments deal with race and social issues. These conversations reveal an array of frightening attitudes, but in many ways, they represent the way our society thinks about social issues.
Part of the joke of stuffwhitepeoplelike.com is that most of the articles have very little to do with race. The authors’ entries are not directed at all white people, as suggested by the title, but rather a growing culture in which Americans are desperately trying to prove their own uniqueness and sophistication — which the author’ like to criticize. Although posts that describe “what white people like” such as “#14 Having Black Friends” are racial, posts like “#9 Making You Feel Bad About Not Going Outside” or “#41 Indie Music” are not. Perhaps the culture this blog criticizes is dominantly white and wealthy, but the majority of criticisms are unrelated to race.
Even though the blog is supposed to be funny (and, in my opinion, succeeds), posts such as “#16 Gifted Children” or “#101 Being Offended” provoke users to post comments about social issues. The biggest problem here is that users’ ability to remain anonymous allows them to say socially inappropriate things without worrying about being held responsible. There’s no way to stop people from claiming that non-whites are just jealous if they cannot afford to live in an expensive neighborhood or that sexism only applies to ugly people. Some users have begun to create their own lists such as “Stuff Black People Like” or “Stuff Chinese People Hate.” The blog itself is not racist, but its edgy material provokes people to say things I would be surprised to hear in public.
These comments are often idiotic, but sometimes, they accurately portray how society thinks about particular issues. For instance, our society is obsessed with assigning stereotypes. Internet users frequently discuss whether the list of stuff white people like accurately represents white people, saying things like, “I must not be a true white person if I don’t like coffee” or the opposite, “I’m not white, but I like bumperstickers.” Many claim that the blog is absolutely right about the behavior of white people, while others angrily assert that the blog isn’t representative. All these comments miss the satire of the website and portray a society willing to believe that race depends on generalizations.
Maybe we should regard these people as crazy. But comments on stuffwhitepeoplelike.com are just extreme examples of how many individuals would talk about race in casual conversation. The people visiting stuffwhitepeoplelike.com are likely to be the same people who are searching youtube.com and collegehumor.com to divert themselves from work. As a result, the comments more closely resemble casual conversation than on websites like those of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, where users are more careful to make sure that their comments are not blatantly offensive. Although most would not talk with the same sense of superiority as Mr. “screwobama,” I don’t think it’s farfetched to say that the average American would think to himself, “Thank God I was born in America.”
A line from the musical Avenue Q says that everyone is a little bit racist. On a broader scale, this statement means that, even though it is easy to criticize people who hold unacceptable views, everyone makes overgeneralizations and ignorant assumptions about race and social issues. The comments on stuffwhitepeoplelike.com may be extreme, but they don’t completely misrepresent how we as a society think about social issues. Before we shun them as crazies, we have to realize that their mindsets are somewhat reflective of the way we view ourselves.
Jeremy Levy is an LSA freshman.