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SmashTheState's avatar

Do the demographics of Fluther skew white and middle class?

Asked by SmashTheState (9636 points ) January 4th, 2012

I’ve noticed repeatedly that Fluther has a bias amongst both users and sysops which seems to skew liberal (ie/ 5 degrees left of centre socially and economically authoritarian). This would account for why there are disproportionate numbers of female users here compared to other Q&A sites (which tend to skew conservative), since women are disproportionately liberal.

Internet users are a self-selecting minority who have enough money and leisure time to park their arses in front of a computer with Internet access (which accounts for the wildly disproportionate number of Libertarians; a poll conducted online during the last election showed Ron Paul would have won the Amerikan election had Internet users been the sole voters), which tends to skew them bourgeois, which in turn skews them white as a result of systemic racism.

I’m guessing this bias is not visible to most people here, for the same reason that fish don’t notice the ocean. To someone like me, who is far outside the socioeconomic class of the average user here, the bias is glaringly apparent in nearly every series of questions and answers.

I’d be interested to know whether people here have noticed this bias. When you give your answer, it would also be useful to know your sex, race, and socioeconomic class. If my guess is correct, those who see the bias will fall outside of the gestalt here.

(Note: I am well aware that middle class people don’t really don’t understand what “poor” means. Eating ramen in college does not make you poor. Having only one car, missing a mortgage payment, or not being able to buy a mocha soy latte with chocolate sprinkles every morning is not poverty. Unless you regularly miss meals and have to do without things like medication and weather-appropriate clothing, don’t say that you’re poor. Because you’re not. True story: I was on a bus once, listening to some loudmouth rant to his friend about “welfare bums” and how they were bleeding him dry. I asked him if he knew how much welfare paid. He said he did not. I asked him to guess. His guess was: “A thousand dollars? Every two weeks?” When I told him that welfare paid $500 a month – in a city where the average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment is $850 – he scoffed and refused to believe me, saying it’s not possible to survive on that. People who have never been poor have no conception of what the word really means, or that people actually live this way.)

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39 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

You often don’t give us much credit, @SmashTheState , which is a bit irritating sometimes. I noticed the differential in my lurking days, before I ever joined. For most of us “fish” this is not the “ocean”. My ocean is not the Internet, and I suspect the same is true for most of us.

rebbel's avatar

I am considered low income in my country with money enough to have access to internet, but I consider myself rich compared to loads of people who have to make it with one or two dollars a day.
I am a full-bred left.
A (hu)man.
I have really no idea how I can guess the socioeconomic state of fellow members, and I can’t say I care for it too.
If what you think you have noticed is true, it would mean that we are all agreeing on most stuff all the time?
If so, I don’t think I have seen many examples of that yet here.

nikipedia's avatar

Maybe you can give some income ranges to circumvent the “what counts as poor” thing? I agree it’s an ambiguous word, but numbers are pretty straightforward.

I’m female and white (European ancestry). My individual income is well above the federal poverty line (approximately 2.5x higher) but not exactly comfortable; my household income is considerably higher (approximately 8x the federal poverty line). Interestingly (to me), this still does not afford us enough leeway to meet all of our financial goals.

From my perspective, Fluther has a good mix of economic classes—even within the “middle class,” there is a lot of variation. There are certainly more middle class than extremely poor people, although I am sure there are plenty of those too.

I’m hesitant to use the word “bias”—to me that implies some kind of systematic exclusion/inclusion, whereas the user base here is entirely self-selected, so it doesn’t seem appropriate. Do you feel differently?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

How is this an epiphany, exactly? Those with access to most things are white, generally…and as far as media that runs young (age-wise)...they’re liberal…don’t think there’s a gender skew, necessarily…

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Sort of. It is definitely liberal, I feel like I can’t argue with that. I don’t think that I know enough about a large enough selection of users to judge their income. I haven’t noticed more men or women, but I don’t know what gender a good number of you are, to begin with.
I think this makes my answer “I don’t actually know.” I don’t actually know enough of these details to accurately judge such a thing.
I am a white female. We have a family of four and live on approximately $900 a month, and we do not receive government assistance. I’m guessing that, when compared to the majority of the country, that puts us pretty damn low on the ladder. It’s not terribly abnormal around here, though. Still not anywhere close to middle class. Libertarian is probably the closest thing that I could use to describe my political views, but I always end up pretty neutral. I am quite liberal when it comes to certain issues, and quite conservative when it comes to others.

downtide's avatar

I think the demographics of the internet as a whole skews to middle class simply becausse it requires a certain level of personal or community wealth to be able to access it at all. Perhaps white too on English-speaking websites like Fluther, but worldwide, much more likely to skew Asian.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@harple how do they find that stuff out?

zenvelo's avatar

I disagree with the statement _ since women are disproportionately liberal._ I am much more liberal than almost all the women I know. I think the liberal/conservative bias is more related to education than to gender.

But I don’t think this site deviates too much from the norm of internet users.

SmashTheState's avatar

@harple Interesting. I was right about Fluther skewing female. It’s quite striking, given the relative scarcity of women in other Internet fora I frequent. I wish they’d break down the “less than $30k” but I guess for the Internet advertisers who use these stats, anyone making less than $30k is equally undesirable.

@zenvelo Women in the US are overwhelmingly more likely to vote Democrat than Republican. Here in Kanada, there is a similar gender divide between the Conservative Party and all the other parties. In Ontario under Mike Harris, the neo-conservative poster boy, the divide was startlingly large: 80%+ of Harris voters were male.

harple's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf No idea I’m afraid! Have to ask Auggie!

I remembered seeing them mentioned before, so just searched for the previous questions we have had on demographics. It would be interesting to know what information is shared and how.

downtide's avatar

Where does that site get info about income, education etc? I’ve certainly never given any such info to Fluther or anywhere else online.

everephebe's avatar

Aren’t demographics essentialist bullshit?
“Said” the “white” “middle class” “man.”

Lightlyseared's avatar

Fuck knows. Fluther hasn’t ran the sort of census needed to work that one out.

and why does this Q need 3 pages of details? and were they worth reading?

Dog's avatar

I do not fit into any demographs. I believe everyone has a right to voice their opinion. I do not follow politics, I do not push a belief or a non-belief. I feel that any kind of statistic that label a group is inaccurate because we are all individuals.

Says the girl of Bohemian ancestry who wishes to help the homeless.

HungryGuy's avatar

Yeah, that’s characteristic of me. I’m generally near the top point of the political spectrum (Libertarian), but a few degrees down the left slope (because I believe in safety nets and some restrictions against the uber rich from totally screwing everyone else).

YARNLADY's avatar

It appears that your demographics are accurate as far as statistics would be concerned.

I am assuming by middle class you mean we live in homes with indoor plumbing, enough bedrooms for the adults to sleep separately from the children, and kitchens equipped with stove, refrigerator, and sink. To my way of thinking, our living arrangements are mostly what separates middle class from poor.

KoleraHeliko's avatar

I’ve noticed the disproportionate number of libertarians, and, to pull out a rather colourful Australianism, it shits me to tears.

Well, I’m male. More or less white. And I suppose I’m somewhere around the middle class. Though this may be misinterpreted, as the vast majority of the country is considered middle class here. With wildly different interpretations of the term on either end of the spectrum.

And I’ll add, on the point of the university students eating ramen, a great many students do live below the international poverty line.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Overlooking the self-promotional and longwinded way of asking…

Yes.

Ron_C's avatar

It seems to me that many of the writers here are older or very young. The young tend to ask homework questions and the older ones try to answer in-depth or if they are like me, add a little humor (often very little humor). From my discussions it seems that there are a number of non-white people, gay, straight, rich, average and low income. I would guess we tend to straddle the middle income bracket. We range from the very bottom (almost poor) to the very top of the middle bracket (almost rich).

The only thing that seems universal is that we are very opinionated, of course my opinion is always the correct one.

saint's avatar

In my case, yes

tinyfaery's avatar

Not white.
Below middle class. (We’re 1 paycheck away from homelessness. Okay maybe two.)
I do have an iPhone and 2 cars, cable and internet and tons of stuff. So I’m hardly poor, but without my wife, I’d be below the poverty line.

Not liberal. I’m way left of liberal.

DaphneT's avatar

Why does it matter?

CWOTUS's avatar

Is it “skewed” in a certain way, or is it a representative cross-section of a (primarily American, but also British, European and Australian) western society that self-selects for intelligence, vocal articulation and a certain degree of tolerance? Because it seems to me that your own bias is toward less tolerance and more provocative confrontation of “otherness”.

Seelix's avatar

I’m with @JilltheTooth. Just because we are white males between 18 and 49 doesn’t mean we’re oblivious to what’s going on around us.

That said, you’re right, mostly. Fluther does seem to have more white members than non-whites. It’s also an English-speaking website. Most members do seem to be of the middle class. People with continuous internet access are generally of the middle class.

I guess it comes down to this: So what?

Paradox25's avatar

White, male (30’s) and I’m not sure where my average salary of $45,000 puts me being that I live in a very cheap area and being single. As far as politics go there are only two options to me; authoritarian vs liberal. I would consider myself very liberal but most ‘liberals’ would call me a libertarian (I hate that word). You’re probably correct but I would say this is due to users inviting like minded friends on here, not because of something due to the fluther website itself.

bob_'s avatar

I think you guys are over-analyzing it.

You’re all gringos to me.

Said the Mexican.

rooeytoo's avatar

There was recently an article in an aussie newspaper where 2 self admitted drug addict/alcoholics were complaining because between them they collected a mere $1600 per fortnight in government allowances.

Maybe all the poor people should move here. These dudes are collecting more for tripping than I am for working part time. If they gave up their habits, pooled their resources, they could live damned well here in the tropics, eat steak not ramen.

I don’t think I fit your parameters though I am not particularly liberal or young, I am female however.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, besides white people maybe having more internet access around the world, the site was also started by a couple of liberal Jewish boys if I remember correcly, and so their friends and family who first started using it were similar to them in many cases. And, then they told their friends and so on and so on. Of course at this point many people come across fluther from many different countries, they are different races, religions, political leanings etc., but indeed the site does seem to still have mostly people who are liberal and white, but there are plenty of non-white jellies on here too, and we have conservatives for sure. In terms of rich and poor, there seems to be a lot of people on fluther who just make, who don’t have much wealth at all if any. I don’t perceive this as a rich mans site at all.

Blackberry's avatar

Yes, there are more liberals on the site, but I don’t know why. I also frequent sites that are mostly conservative, so it’s not like I’m in my own internet world looking for a circle-jerk.

I do have a lot of time to be on the internet because I’ve been in the military for over 7 years now and I have a stable paycheck. I used to be on a ship where I didn’t get much internet at all, but now I’m on shore duty in an office.

I have no problems paying my bills because I’m single, and I don’t have cable or internet. I’m a black dude. Lol.

CWOTUS's avatar

Holy shit, you’re black, @Blackberry? How long has that been going on? This changes everything.

Blackberry's avatar

@CWOTUS Since 2010. The celebrities were getting skin treatments to make them more white, so I wanted to be different and did the opposite lol.

everephebe's avatar

It was indeed surprising shocking, when I first found out @Blackberry wasn’t more along this range of skin pigmentation. Knowledge destroys expectations.

CWOTUS's avatar

That would explain why he’s always so thorny, too, @everephebe.

Ron_C's avatar

@CWOTUS “Holy shit, you’re black” that’s greate, thanks for the laugh!

Symbeline's avatar

Lol what’s with the whole ’‘Amerikan’’ and ’‘Kanada’’ thing?

White female living in Kanada, born in France. I don’t understand politics much at all, but I get the rough idea. I guess I’m probably liberal, and yeah, I noticed that a lot of Fluther leads towards it. Don’t know the difference between men and women who follow what, though. When I was on Answerbag, there also seemed to be a pretty good amount of both men and women. (many more conservatives though, but equally followed by both men and women) If there’s any exceptions to Fluther (haven’t really noticed it) it’s probably because it’s a pretty small community, compared to others that are similar. I suppose that’s probbaly important in what you’re looking for, if not vital. Smaller places may easier illustrate certain theories.

I don’t make too much money, but enough to not be considered poor, by your standards. I do struggle more than I have to, due to a drinking problem. Been working on stopping for a bit, and I didn’t quit but I do manage to drink much less, and it’s actually nuts the amount of money I save. So my situation could be better without it being the cause. I also go to school, I’d make a bit more if I was working full time, like I did before I decided getting a career would be a good idea. Shoulda just went for my original dream; travel as a hobo through Europe. Sometimes I really regret a lot of my decisions. XD
As far as my financial situation goes, I have known much worse, in times where I did miss meals, or barely had anything to make meals with. Canada has free healthcare, so I didn’t have problems there, but I swear, seems to me that if you can’t pay for shit, you’re given the lowest denominator treatment. In my experience anyway, unless everyone gets the same thing and I didn’t notice. Being on welfare is fucking bullshit, and I’d sure like to slap that fucker you met on the bus. I’ve known worse, however I’ve also known better than now in my early twenties. (29 years of age) So complaining is pretty easy. XD
Not sure exactly what technically defines all the classes, nor do I know where I fit, exactly. But I thought middle klass didn’t exist anymore. XD
Feels like you’re asking two different questions though, and actually, I don’t get it. But hope this helps. All I have really noticed in what you ask is that yes, Fluther is highly liberal, when it comes to weighing out the balance in political affiliation, or at least, idealism. Noticed this not too long after I first joined. I have absolutely no clue as to the financial status of most people here. Also I’m not mocking you with replacing some C’s by K’s. I just thought it was funny lol.

@bob_ As always, you say the most classic shit. :)

King_Pariah's avatar

Less than half white and half Asian (Korean)
Currently unemployed college drop out former mental patient
Religious views: Nihilism
Political views: centrist/anarchist

Facade's avatar

22, woman, Black, Christian, liberal.
I don’t know how to answer the socioeconomic part… I have very little money of my own (although I just started a new job again), but my parents and SO support me. I work full-time and go to school full-time.

auhsojsa's avatar

I’ve thought about this several times, for whatever reason.

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