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Assuming ethnicity on MN

(86 Posts)
iogo Mon 06-Mar-17 02:40:17

Not a TAAT but definitely inspired by a post on the thread To assume all MNers are UK based?

Totallypearshaped posted

I find it interesting that no one assumes that a poster is black, Asian or mixed race either.

It seems little Britain is alive and well

Neither white, Christian or in the uk here. <am a mother>

And it occurred to me that I tend to do exactly that. I do tend to assume that every other poster (especially those I agree with) are just like me - white British, 30s, professional, mum of 2. But now I think about it, my own assumptions are making me feel very uncomfortable.

Why do I do that? Is it a bad thing or is it just that I don't actually 'see' colour or ethnicity in writing? Am I actually simply seeing myself in other posters rather than seeing other posters as myself? In real life I firmly believe that if you don't pull others up on racism then you are inherently condoning it which makes you racist yourself thus I do pull up family, friends, associates when I see racism, sexism, homophobia and other similar things/unkindness.

(Hoping I'm not offending anyone by posting this pondering)

Meowstro Mon 06-Mar-17 02:49:08

You're just not seeing ethnicity in someone's post, I'm not white but don't think of anyone else being a person of colour on MN either. Unless the poster mentions a situation where the response where race clearly factors in, there's no need to think about it.

GardenGeek Mon 06-Mar-17 03:18:02

The fact you had to end a post this post about assumptious (new word smile offensive thoughts with a disclaimer about offending people.. says it all.

This is the decade of offence.

GardenGeek Mon 06-Mar-17 03:20:19

Blah that came out a mess. But I am sure YSWIM wink

GirlOverboard Mon 06-Mar-17 03:34:41

Well this is a UK-based website and the UK is something like 85% white. I do tend to imagine posters as being white, female, heterosexual and British. In all likelihood they will be. I don't think that makes me a Little Englander, as the quoted poster suggests hmm

I also read a few pop forums like Popjustice and I always imagine posters on there as being gay males (of no specific nationality or colour), because the majority of posters do seem to be gay and male. It's just a fact.

slightlyglitterbrained Mon 06-Mar-17 03:38:36

It's privilege OP.

Does it make you a horrible person?


Does it mean you might do horrid things all unaware?

Yes, but now you know about it so you can do something about it. Each time you catch yourself, you'll imagine a slightly different world and over time you'll get better at seeing things you didn't notice before.

Isn't that better (even if uncomfortable sometimes) than joining the ranks of the smug and wilfully blind?

PyongyangKipperbang Mon 06-Mar-17 03:38:51

Its just a case of thinking that everyone is the same as us. I am white English/Irish and DH is black English/Jamaican and we had a bit of a WTF?! moment when we realised that we both assumed that characters in a childrens book we had both read were of the same colour and ethnicity as we are.

We look in the mirror and see "normal", so we assume that everyone else is the same "normal" as us. No big deal smile

PyongyangKipperbang Mon 06-Mar-17 03:41:13

And before I get accused of anything, it is DH who says its no big deal.

Mind you, this is the same man who got accused of being racist, by a white woman, on MN so I suspect that common sense is not troubling many people on here......

Smitff Mon 06-Mar-17 03:45:54

I'm not white and I assume that every poster on here is!

I think it's a good thing that MN is colour blind. I have learned a lot about what out and out racist people really think (I don't knowingly know any IRL), about how some people don't even know they're being racist etc. The anonymity allows people to speak their minds (I certainly do), and I appreciate not having to cut through layers of pretence and bullshit. The fact you've even asked the question gives you a great big tick in my mental spreadsheet, OP grin

HarleyQuinzel Mon 06-Mar-17 03:48:37

Possibly. I think it's just stereotyping, like you I also automatically think white, middle class 30 something professional or SAHM, just because that seems to be the majority on here.

I'm not any of those things except white.

slightlyglitterbrained Mon 06-Mar-17 03:54:17

I'm not sure childrens books are quite the same Pyongyang - you're meant to identify with characters so more natural to read them as you.

When talking to real people, it's not the crime of the century to imagine they are just like you, but it is something that means you are less likely to read what's there and respond to the imaginary person in your head. You see those assumptions in countless threads (inc mine I'm sure).

It's not terrible, but it is worth trying to break the assumption from time to time. It's more work, which is why people fall into defaults - our brains naturally optimise. I really don't agree that makes it good though - surely one of the great benefits in a site like this is that you will come across views and experiences that just don't exist in your circle of friends? If you're unwittingly misreading half of that cos your brain is on autopilot - fine, everyone wants to switch off and just coast sometimes, but keeping the blinkers on wilfully all the time is pretty much the definition of solipsistic, isn't it?

slightlyglitterbrained Mon 06-Mar-17 03:57:47

Gah, missed out enough words that sentence doesn't make sense. Where I said...
you are less likely to read what's there and respond to the imaginary person in your head
it should have been
"you are less likely to read what's there and will instead respond to the imaginary person in your head"

PyongyangKipperbang Mon 06-Mar-17 04:00:17

The childrens books thing isnt a defining example, just an example of how we assume that the rest of the world is just like us unless we are told/shown/see differently.

There is a huge amount of irony in assuming that other people work on auto pilot, because I dont but you must to have made that assertion.

slightlyglitterbrained Mon 06-Mar-17 04:08:28

You really do Pyongyang, it's how the human brain works. It's not meant as an insult.

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 06-Mar-17 04:48:03

If 90% of the posters are UK based and 85% of UK people are white and most people on here are women and so on, do bear in mind that those Venn diagrams don't perfectly match up.

wettunwindee Mon 06-Mar-17 06:09:42

As I don't really venture beyond AIBU, I've never considered anyone's ethnicity. When moaning about a friend or husband or teacher or cyclist, ethnicity isn't a factor.

I assume we're mostly women, mothers, UK based (even though I'm not), lower-mid / working class but had never considered ethnicity.

nanny3 Mon 06-Mar-17 07:29:54

never give colour a thought xx

penguincrumble Mon 06-Mar-17 07:35:12

Reddit posters always assume other posters are male but this is made immediately obvious by pronoun use. I find it exhausting. If MN is like that to non-white posters I apologise.

SoupDragon Mon 06-Mar-17 07:37:36

I assume all posters are like me until I find it otherwise and then adjust my assumptions. It makes no difference to how I treat a poster so I'm not sure what the problem is. Unless you insist on everyone declaring their ethnicity, sex, preferred gender and sexual orientation etc how are you meant to know?

I know that all posters are not actually the same as me, of course I do.

SoulAccount Mon 06-Mar-17 07:47:09

I always visualise the users of MN as like a gathering of parents I would see at a school open day; just average parents like me.

But maybe because I live in S London I never assume that a poster is white like me.

Astoria7974 Mon 06-Mar-17 08:08:03

You're white so you have privilege. No offence, but you probably wouldn't even be able to recognise different races even if you saw them on the street. It's just the way it is. One of my friends who's a police officer says that in his experience the best eye-witnesses to have are people of colour because they'll be able to give you precise skin shades, eye colours etc. So instead of 'it was a black man' they could say 'it was a dark skinned south indian guy' etc.

KikiDeliversCakes Mon 06-Mar-17 08:16:46

I think it's privilege too. To my ears, saying "I don't see colour" is because you've never been affected by race issues, so why would you ever consider / see it.

Really interesting point Astoria, I'm inclined to believe that's fairly accurate.

Tanith Mon 06-Mar-17 08:37:42

I don't even assume other posters are human, these days...

I've never made any assumptions about their race, ethnicity or gender. People lie. They lie a lot on the internet.

reallyanotherone Mon 06-Mar-17 08:42:47

Like others i assume posters are like me.

Same with accents. Everyone here has a northen accent. Unless they use obvious grammar which gives it away.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Mon 06-Mar-17 08:45:26

I think that MN does have a certain demographic, and this is evidenced in threads about racism, BREXIT, gollywogs, hair, foundation, social housing, chav bashing, etc

and especially in threads about the countryside, a place where all white seems to prevail

so given this I do make a few assumptions, and yes they could be wrong but that's more down the website itself than RL in a large city

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