General Question

SeventhSense's avatar

How is race and gender an issue on Fluther and should there be more transparency?

Asked by SeventhSense (18851points) April 8th, 2009

I feel that the issue of gender especially is at times less than transparent and often obfuscated online.
In a honest society should we not represent ourselves as we are?
If there are issues of gender, sexual identity and race should we not represent ourseves honestly to foster true unity as a society?
Is it significant at all? And if so why should it continue to be?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

87 Answers

Ivan's avatar

Our gender or race shouldn’t have an impact on our arguments. Our arguments should stand on their own merits, not whether or not we are of a particular demographic. Also, many people have stereotypical views of certain races and genders. If such a person knew of your gender/race, they might perceive your comment differently or negatively.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Ivan
So doesn’t it behoove us to expose that tendency?

asmonet's avatar

Sometimes, people get confused because Fluther doesn’t list genders. I like it that way.
And even if they added M/F, what about third genders? Why should we identify as a race? What purpose does any of that serve?

Our intellect is all that matters in a forum of thought.

Ivan's avatar

@SeventhSense

Sure, but I don’t think the way to do that is to expose everyone. I agree with asmonet.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Ivan
@asmonet
But these distictions do exist. We do no service by ignoring. After all we are more than avatars
@Ivan
What would be a way?

KalWest's avatar

in the name of transparency: mixed race, male, gay, but SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS are straight

Likeradar's avatar

@SeventhSense Some people put their gender in their profile. The option is there for those who want to be known.
I don’t think gender and race is particularly significant in this kind of forum. In the few cases where it may matter, I have found that many people will give you the info when you ask, or just volunteer it when posting an answer.

Jayne's avatar

I fail to see why that would benefit anyone, unless the discussion deals directly with those topics. If anything, the internet is a place to escape from judgment based on irrelevant factors; people are imperfect, and making these characteristics known would undoubtedly skew some people away from an unbiased consideration of someone’s thoughts. As for “exposing” this tendency towards bias- I fail to see how this goal could possibly be achieved this way. Are we going to see someone giving someone else a particularly hard time and yell “Ha, racist scum! We’ve got you now!”, on the assumption that they are being mean because they have seen the note marking their target as black (or whatever)? Of course not: bias is easy to create, difficult to detect, much harder to prove, and almost impossible to defeat.

Ivan's avatar

@SeventhSense

I don’t think that gender and race are as concrete as you are implying. The distinctions do exist, yes, but I don’t think they should impact the merits of our comments.

Ideally the best way to expose the tendency of stereotying and discrimination would be to tackle the issue front on with a direct and relevant debate.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Likeradar
I say partly this because I am offended when I am addressed as a white male who has by nature certain priveleges. I find it unfair to group me like that

VzzBzz's avatar

If I think it’s relevant to a reply or post (MY choice to interact in the first place) then I’ll state my biological sex and whatever else. Posts like this one kind of creep on me.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense You identified yourself as such.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Ivan
Ideally the best way to expose the tendency of stereotying and discrimination would be to tackle the issue front on with a direct and relevant debate.
Yes that was my intent

robmandu's avatar

People can choose to identify their gender with a simple avatar selection. If they choose a non-specific race/gender/whatever avatar, it’s a choice they made… and not a disservice to anyone.

SeventhSense's avatar

@RedPowerLady
Not to be genetically sterotyped as a responsible party to any agenda

Likeradar's avatar

@SeventhSense Are people actually saying “Since you’re a white male who has by nature certain privileges, then…” or are you assuming that’s where the person is coming from?
It could be a great opportunity for you to say something like “Well, I’m a Native American woman (or whatever), and in my experience blah blah blah”

asmonet's avatar

@SeventhSense: If it is relevant to a conversation, it will be mentioned. But it is not relevant to all topics and is therefore unnecessary.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense I don’t think anyone made such a stereotype.

asmonet's avatar

And besides that, gender is fluid and defined by the individual and society. Were you thinking of sex as well?

Ivan's avatar

@SeventhSense

OK, excellent, but then I don’t understand the point of tackling the problem with institutional design.

Likeradar's avatar

@SeventhSense So now I’m curious… what is your gender and nationality? I picture you as a hetero Caucasian dude. Am I right?

SeventhSense's avatar

@Likeradar
It could be a great opportunity for you to say something like “Well, I’m a Native American woman (or whatever), and in my experience blah blah blah”
You mean lie?
I think that that will only foster further error.
Yes hetero white male

Likeradar's avatar

@SeventhSense Uh, no. Not lie. That’s why I said “or whatever,” as in however you identify yourself.

Why are you offended “when… addressed as a white male who has by nature certain priveleges”? I’m not trying to argue, I’m genuinely curious

SeventhSense's avatar

@Likeradar
and you are an anime white girl with a purple shirt..J/K

SeventhSense's avatar

@Likeradar
Well the nature of the argument by nature placed me in a position of opressive party

AstroChuck's avatar

I didn’t know that there were different races of jellyfish, just the one. I kind of like it that way.

SeventhSense's avatar

@AstroChuck
Well we all know that you are an alien chuck..:0)

SeventhSense's avatar

@Jayne
Your missing the point. They do exist and they are real and applicable in the real world. This is somewhat a false reality and so how can these ideas be worked out? Does it serve society for Barney Frank to be a member of Congress and not true to his sexual identity? Or does it make a better society? Likewise is it not beneficial for Dick Cheney to be accountable for his stand towards his own daughter?

squirbel's avatar

I’m of mixed descent. Female. Transparency in this day and age is just a government catch-word for “let’s spy on you.”

/grabs tin-foil hat and sits on porch with shotgun.

asmonet's avatar

Jayne…he doesn’t miss much. :p

Why does who someone fucks matter to anyone?
Why is someone’s family drama important to anyone else?

arnbev959's avatar

Would you think of me differently if I told you I was Korean/ Black/ White/ Salvadorian? I think so. Most people would. My name already gives away my gender, and my avatar is available for judgment.

That’s whats so great about internet anonymity. Those biases that exist in real life don’t have to here. I could make an account with a gender-neutral name and a default avatar and you’d be forced to judge me only by what I write.

Jayne's avatar

Barney Frank should be true to his sexual identity, where sexual identity is concerned. It would make no sense for him to say “I support a 25% decrease in military spending…And I am gay”. Which is essentially what you are advocating. It’s irrelevant, and would bring bias into a place where it does not belong.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Jayne
I advocate a 25% decrease in military spending…And I am gay”. Which is essentially what you are advocating.
How’d you make that leap?

SeventhSense's avatar

No what I am saying is that I feel as a society if we would truly have an authentic society then we need to be open. if one is gay, then be gay. if one is black, white or native American if it is relevant to the discussion be proud and represent oneself as such. It fosters unity.

SeventhSense's avatar

@squirbel
Transparency in this day and age is just a government catch-word for “let’s spy on you.”
That sounds kind of paranoid

arnbev959's avatar

@SeventhSense “if one is gay, then be gay. if one is black, white or native American if it is relevant to the discussion be proud and represent oneself as such.”

I don’t think too many Flutherites are hiding who they are. If sexual orientation or race is relevant to the discussion people generally share it. But outside of discussions directly related to those sorts of topics it really isn’t necessary. (I don’t really see what the issue is.)

SeventhSense's avatar

I would appreciate if people could have a respectful discussion and recognize each other’s position rather than shoot for a quick talking point or lurve. If anything can come of this format it has to take into account that a discussion needs to be open and assume that opinions are indeed fluid and not fixed.

Jayne's avatar

I’m going to agree with pete here. People on fluther don’t seem to hesitate to bring out personal details that are relevant to the discussion. Those who hold back, probably have a good reason; even if they don’t, it’s their personal choice. I see no need for a change.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Jayne
And as to your assumption about my statement?

AstroChuck's avatar

@petethepothead- Sorry, but I can’t be your friend any more. I hate African-European-Korean-Salvadoran-Americans. Hope you understand.
Nothing personal.

hearkat's avatar

Initially, I was going to say that I am a member of the human race. In many discussions here, my ethnicity and gender are irrelevant.

In some cases, having others know that information might prejudice them from actually listening to my point. For example, now that we know that you are a hetero caucasian male, we might assume that you can not relate to issues of discrimination and oppression that “minorities” face, which could lead us to discredit any points you might make in a discussion of such.

On the other hand, if our ‘demographics’ were readily evident, it could help dissolve some people’s prejudices by finding that they have more in common with people that come from different backgrounds/lifestyles.

That being said, I have found that forums such as these seem to have members who are pretty open-minded (with the exception of the occasional ne’er-do-well), so I doubt that many of us have such prejudices. And as noted, the majority of the collective seem to share that information freely when asked or if it is relevant to the discussion.

Jayne's avatar

Is it not evident? You say that we should always make controversial details about ourselves explicit; my example shows that this is ridiculous in circumstances where it is not relevant (I’m really getting tired of that word. Pertinent, perhaps? Yes, that will do).

SeventhSense's avatar

@Jayne
When did I say this?
You say that we should always make controversial details about ourselves explicit

SeventhSense's avatar

@hearkat
On the other hand, if our ‘demographics’ were readily evident, it could help dissolve some people’s prejudices by finding that they have more in common with people that come from different backgrounds/lifestyles.

That’s what I am in fact questioning. Just trying to get differing ideas. Contrary to the trend, I would try to open rather than shut down into opinions. It’s a little harder but I think it’s the best use of the forum.

hearkat's avatar

@SeventhSense: I suspected that it was the point you were trying to make, but again, this little corner of the interwebs consists primarily of people who don’t hold such prejudices. Occasionally, I see some feathers get ruffled over religious beliefs, but only if someone gets pushy/preachy.

Facade's avatar

I suppose it’s not necessary, but I’d like to know who I’m talking to.

SuperMouse's avatar

@petethepothead are you Jimi Hendrix? Have you really been on a island with James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Amelia Earhart all these years?

@SeventhSense, I am confused; upthread you mentioned that you are offended when you are judged because you are a hetero white male who has certain privileges. So if you don’t want to be judged as such why share that information?

Jayne's avatar

@SeventhSense; I thought your entire point was that we should explicitly state our race, sexuality, etc., as a preface to discussion. My apologies if I have misunderstood you throughout the thread.

Addressing hearkat’s interpretation of your argument: that certainly would be nice, and the idea is legitimate. However, the people in need of such a revelation would be more inclined to see a person’s race and misread their argument, than to read their argument fairly and then reconsider their conceptions of race. For that ideal sequence of events to take place would require a contrived, one-shot forum in which discussion takes place and then identities are revealed. This would be almost impossible to organize, and would have an artificial atmosphere that would jeopardize the results. In fact, the idea is somewhat ludicrous. Alternatively, users could debate anonymously, and then reveal their racial or sexual identity at their own discretion, using their judgment to determine when it will have the most impact on their audience. Which is, of course, the system we have now.

SeventhSense's avatar

@SuperMouse
I think we all need to consider a question based on the merit of the question and not take into account the asker. I think there might actually be more open discussions. There are countless opinions that are tossed about but how about looking at a question as an open ended discourse. If we all would be brave enough to be respectful and engage rather than attack and defend we might actually accomplish more. No I have no problem being a heterosexual male but I do when other people hide behind their labels to make me out to be something. Anonymity is great except when someone uses it as an opportunity to cover an agenda like race on another thread. I am not saying that it should be mandated, I would just hope that we could all relate on principles rather than personalities. What I propose though is that I don’t think that is accomplished through anonymity at times. Of course it’s always a personal choice. I would hope that we would by choice feel secure enough to do so. I’m just raising a discussion.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Facade
headless girl in a little black dress? :)

Facade's avatar

@SeventhSense I’m headless? Nooooo! My head’s the best part! :P

SeventhSense's avatar

I guess what I am referring to is that particular case when it is relative to a discussion. What part does it play? I am almost apt to say it’s not relevant but I was put in a position whereby another user seemed to think that it was significant. So it got me thinking as to the nature of my own and their position as it relates to race.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Facade
Lucky 777…you get Lurve

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense
Anonymity is great except when someone uses it as an opportunity to cover an agenda like race on another thread.

If you feel that someone is doing this then why do you not just ask them what their race is? They don’t have to answer you but at that point you could decide if you want to continue the conversation.

Also implying that someone’s race (or the “covering up” of it) equates with an agenda sound a bit offensive, not that I am implying you are attempting to be offensive, but that just does not equate in my mind.

SeventhSense's avatar

@RedPowerLady
OK what’s your race and how did I become branded the white male?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense LOL :)

I am Native American & Caucasian. I identify primarily with my Native American roots although I do have light skin. I am female (as you probably know by my name).
I assumed that this information was well “known” because I have said so several times in Fluther but then again I shouldn’t assume people remember such things because I certainly don’t have that kind of memory myself.

And you labeled yourself as a “white male” in our last conversation.
As a white male I have felt…. (that may be a brief quote but I wasn’t sure it was appropriate to post the entire thing).

fireside's avatar

I actually knew that about RedPowerLady from reading it somewhere.
But the username was a big clue too

SeventhSense's avatar

Ok but is a person responsible for their race and where is the distinction made? As mentioned in that thread regarding the white as recognizing responsibility. And if so should we start to make distinctions based on a percentage of a particular race? What if I’m a white European male and my ancestry goes back to this country less than 100 years? Should I be held accountable for slave owners? And what when we go back 1000 years? Is the DNA to be examined? What about 10000 years? Is it possible to actually tell one race from another when we look into this melting pot? These are legitimate questions and that is why ideas about race are in essence racist and separatist rather than based upon merits of human beings who are opressed or singled out.

Darwin's avatar

The nice thing about the Internet is this

I know, my avatar gives it away.

Of course, we must only use this force for good.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense That is a really good question. I think one should be responsible for their own actions. But quite often these actions are a result of the past even though most don’t care to recognize it. So even if your ancestors came over after slavery then you still benefit from it if you are now part of the majority population. Now you can’t control that so no harm done. But you can control how you use your power and if you recognize your privilege. To me that is important. And I say that is true for every person. We all have to be able to recognize how the past affects our actions today and we have to recognize where we have power over others (as we all do in some way or another but some institutionally so). If one still engages in oppressive behavior, that is often a result of the past, then they should be held accountable to that.

Also I do not believe in the melting pot. I don’t believe in melting altogether as one. I believe in the Salad Bowl: all living together equally but recognizing and accepting each others’ differences.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense Now I don’t know if that answered all of your questions so feel free to let me know if it did not and you would like it answered. I believe the overall idea of what I said covers the overall idea you put out. But perhaps I am wrong about that.

squirbel's avatar

Once again, I bring up the concept.

If we lived in a world where there weren’t any racial identities, which cultural/racial system would we live by?

I think I’d love to live according to the Hunza culture… They live so long! They are the healthiest people in the world!

Racial identities exist. But if you base your judgement of their wise words and wisdom on their race, sexual orientation, religious identity… so many things that make us individuals…

…Then something is seriously wrong with the way you judge people. Some call it racist. I don’t, I merely point out the likeness.

squirbel's avatar

And, since you missed the paranoid joke, I actually made fun of myself.

/grabs tin-foil hat and sits on porch with shotgun.

That implies paranoia.

and since I know you won’t click my link….

Tin-foil hat
The reasons for their use include the supposed prevention of perceived harassment from governments, spies or paranormal beings. These draw on the stereotypical images of mind control operating by ESP or technological means, like microwave radiation. Belief in the effectiveness of tin foil hats is popularly associated with paranoia or mental illness.[1]

SeventhSense's avatar

@RedPowerLady
But you can control how you use your power and if you recognize your privilege. To me that is important. And I say that is true for every person. We all have to be able to recognize how the past affects our actions today and we have to recognize where we have power over others (as we all do in some way or another but some institutionally so). If one still engages in oppressive behavior, that is often a result of the past, then they should be held accountable to that.
What does this even mean still participates in opressive behavior? Being white and sharing in society? I oppress no one. I make no laws excluding anyone. I vote for people based on their merit and the collective good excluding my own self interests. I have no malice towards anyone.
So people should just recognize and share in a collective guilt because you have decided that they belong to a certain race? And my feeling bad will make you feel better and rectify the past? And you can prove to me through collective DNA going back centuries what your race is?
And I will say agin that this argument is by nature RACIST. It matters not which side of this equation you are on. Race and nationality has no place in the modern world except in adding value through cultural contributions.
@squirbel
The Human Race

SeventhSense's avatar

@Darwin
You stole my joke..I used that on another thread, but it’s still funny..

squirbel's avatar

We already are the human race – but you fail to see what culture would preside.

Being human is not something we can change – but the predominant culture is.

on a side note, are you from alabama? since we’re being transparent, and all – i figured it was okay to ask.

squirbel's avatar

“In a honest society should we not represent ourselves as we are?”

Sorry, just noticed the wording on that. Pffft. Look at the economy, and look at Wall Street. Look at AIG and the GM companies. Look at the people who no longer have homes because of the housing crisis.

Honest. Pffft.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense I would ask how to do you expect change to occur if people do not recognize their power over others and their privilege? It doesn’t just happen. People in power have to be able to give up some of that power. Or use some of that power to actively fight oppression. People of the minority can fight and fight all we want but rarely that changes anything because we don’t have the power to make that change. If we did change would have occurred a long time ago. I do not see how this offensive. It is just a fact of our society at this point in time.

All the change that has occurred has been by those in power recognizing their failings and shifting that power. It just has to happen that way. I am not saying that you should feel collective guilt. I am saying that you (we) should take collective action. By just allowing the status quo to exist the majority is allowing oppression to continue. We can’t change anything by sitting on the curb. And by and by people of the majority do sit on the curb because it benefits them to ignore their power to make the changes that are needed. People of the majority keep telling us it is our problem and so we should change it. And we try everyday but we do not have the power to do so. I don’t know how to be more clear about this. It is not about individual guilt but it is about collective action that has yet to be taken. Even you saying “well no I have never been pulled over because of the color of my skin” makes a difference. Because you are then recognizing that yes others are unduly pulled over because of their skin color. And when the issue of racial profiling comes up again maybe you will vote for reform in the police department. Or if you see it happening to someone maybe you will pull over and say something. This is how change begins. By recognizing that power. It is not about guilt.

SeventhSense's avatar

@squirbel

If you imagine that the money interests are in certain hands you are correct. But neither legislation nor government can change that. There are International mainly European banking interests that have sent the world into an economic meltdown by nature of the influence of a handful of family interests that have been for centuries. They operate through commericial code like business and influence the Federal Reserve. They don’t care if there is a black man in the white house, famine in Africa or a war in Viet Nam. Race is not their issue. It’s money

SeventhSense's avatar

All the change that has occurred has been by those in power recognizing their failings and shifting that power. It just has to happen that way.
What else has to happen? Really. We have equal rights, equal access, equal housing and now it’s just a matter of case by case being decided through litigation or mediation.

RedPowerLady's avatar

now it’s just a matter of case by case being decided through litigation

Okay well lets look at litigation.

Who makes the laws?? – People of the majority
Who enforces the laws?? – People of the majority
What are the numbers of people of the majority vs. people of the minority put in prison?? – Minority people are put in prison at alarmingly high rates vs. people of the majority.
What are the numbers of people of the majority vs. people of the minority winning Supreme Court cases? – Minority people lose Supreme court cases at alarmingly high rates vs. people of the majority. In fact I have a book in my house right now that discusses this issue with Native Americans. And some Supreme Court cases have been decided, in the 90s even, based on race alone.

So if you look at just that one example you can see how oppression still exists. And how people of the majority have extreme power over people of color. And how that power affects the daily lives of people of color. So how is that equality???

RedPowerLady's avatar

What else has to happen? Really.

Using the above example. All the answers need to be: It is equal among races.
That is what still needs to happen. And it can happen by people who have that power recognizing that they do and consciously making a shift towards equality.

SeventhSense's avatar

Concrete ideas. If you can’t say what else needs to be done, then there is nothing but some vague concept.

SeventhSense's avatar

And it can happen by people who have that power recognizing that they do and consciously making a shift towards equality.

And we have a black president so if he doesn’t make the correct decisions can you still say that it’s a white thing?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense I think I have been very concrete. Look at the example above. What is vague about it?? It is easy to call something vauge if you don’t want to believe in it. But the example I provided above is quite clear.

We finally have a Black President. Finally. That is a step in the right direction. But there are still more “white” people in power. That is still the majority. And the example I provided above cannot be changed by the President although I do hope that he can help. And having one Black person in power does not mean that equality exists or that the majority don’t have the power anymore. The majority affects our daily lives. They are the cops, the judges, the bosses, etc… even with a Black President. This needs to happen collectively. We can’t put equality on one man’s shoulders. It won’t work.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense I get the feeling that you may be taking my comments personally. So I want to note that I am just trying to have an educated conversation, with an obviously educated man, about oppression and racism and whatever else is relevant. In my opinion talking about these things is a huge step in the right direction. It also helps me excercise my brain when people challenge my ideas. It is nothing personal against you. I don’t agree with your opinion in this matter but that doesn’t mean I am attacking you. Perhaps I am wrong in assuming this is personal for you??

And in honor of full disclosure I will admit it is personal to me because this issue directly impacts my life. But I try (don’t always succeed) to set that aside and have an educated, fairly rational, and fairly calm conversation.

I also want to note that it seems we are missing each other on some substantial level. Typically when I have such a conversation there is some area of agreement but in this circumstance it seems we are missing each other altogether.

SeventhSense's avatar

Black and Hispanic representation on police forces is closely associated with its presence in community populations. There are black lawyers and judges disproportianate to their minority status. There is no collective conspiracy and the notion is placing an imaginary and hurtful burden on the African American and minority communities. We have had blacks on the Supreme Court, as Secretary of Defense and in every walk of life. If blacks want to get into law enforcement, law or any other occupation they need work and strive to do so like any other individual. I have a large student loan and what do I have to show for it? I am no longer in my educated profession. We’re all just people trying to get a nut.
No it’s not personal, but your argumants are baseless. Show me actual case studies. These are the same Politically Correct Talking Points that continualy get thrown around and I am tired of them because they are bad for the country and most especially the minority community itself. And no I don’t take it personally, but please do some research and think for yourself. I am going to bed. Peace and you better add me to your fluther if you haven’t done so already! just kidding. I added you. Even though I am an evil white oppressor. :)

RedPowerLady's avatar

“If blacks want to get into law enforcement, law or any other occupation they need work and strive to do so like any other individual.”

This simply isn’t true. Yes they can work hard to get there. But the barriers they have to face by far outnumber someone from the majority.

My arguments are not baseless. They are backed up by research, educators, political figures, cultural figures and more. It just seems to me that you will not recognize the oppression that still exists today. I just don’t see how someone can ignore it and try and justify it. It is all so silly to me.

Also I sincerely suspect that you do not have the research to back up the numbers about people of color in law enforcement.

It’s not about conspiracy. It’s just fact. I could say to you to do your research as well. I have done mine. And I am sure that what I have said is correct. Oppression exists and we can’t ignore it.

I am going to bed as well. It is late for me and I’m tired of “arguing” over something that to me is so silly. I just don’t see how someone could deny oppression.

Editing to add: There are several case studies. Several. And research figures as well. I just don’t have the time to find them for you. Although I do suggest you research for yourself when you get the chance.

RedPowerLady's avatar

oh and i just have to stop following this. I just can’t keep arguing about something that is so apparent to me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to excercise my brain. I whole heartedly disagree with you but it did give me a chance to articulate myself.

wundayatta's avatar

Race is a social construction. As such, it is difficult to pin down. Some people assign race to themselves and others using one set of criteria, others another, and some apply different criteria to themselves than they do when looking at others. We could have a whole discussion; hell, a whole college course about what race is. Where I work, every department has it’s own race course. I’ve heard some stories about that.

It’s based on so much more than hue of skin. Culture, music, food, customs, politeness, way of speaking, and on and on. I think that for me the key point is the other. There’s us, and then there’s the others. This works not just for things considered race, but in politics, religion and other areas as well.

I believe we group others into “people like me” and “people who are different.” It is not necessary to see someone, or hear their voice, or smell their food, or observe their toiletry habits to separate people into “like me” and “other.” We do that here on fluther, whether we know race and gender or not. We still decide who is more like us; who we feel most comfortable with, and who is less like us; people we feel less comfortable with.

The impact is exactly the same as it would be in real life. Some people become a part of a majority, and others get marginalized. The criteria for majority and marginalized status are different, but the effect is the same.

Of course, here, there’s a kind of monkey wrench (sorry @SeventhSense) in the works here at fluther. This simian tool serves to reduce the separation into in-groups and out-groups. It enforces civility, and culture. Our opportunities for variation are constrained, and, in this way, fluther actively works to enhance this sense that we are all in it together. Of course, it’s the moderators and the rules of engagement that serve this purpose.

This does not completely stop blow-ups from happening. When there is a sudden influx of a lot of new people from another place, there is a sudden “us vs them” feel to it. However, once the new people adopt the fluther culture, things settle in to the togetherness thing, for the most part.

Essentially, fluther is enforcing one culture, and not allowing room for competing cultures. This does not happen in the free world, but fluther is not free. It is a private culture, and the rules are established and anyone who chooses not to follow them, is kicked out. You can not do this in the real world. So there will always be frictions in the real world, whereas online communities can reduce those frictions significantly.

Since the goal of fluther is to play nice, fluther actively works to exclude the things that separate us in the real world. We don’t have to identify our gender or race if we don’t want to. We don’t have to reveal class, income, education, food preference (and even if we do, no one has to smell it), or music (no one else can hear it) or attractiveness. By making these things less obvious, and forcing people to actively reveal them, fluther seeks to minimize opportunities for differentiation and strife.

So the answer to your question is a) you don’t get to choose; b) there are excellent reasons to not create “more transparency” (and I would argue it really isn’t creating transparency) and c) no, there is no need for what you call “more transparency” and, indeed, it would be destructive to fluther.

Having said that, anyone is free to reveal whatever they want. Personally, I don’t see hwy it’s necessary. I think everything we need to know is contained in the words people write. There are occasional moves to create more differentiation, by ranking flutherites by various factors. I vigorously discourage such things. I refuse to put my picture up, either. I do not want to be subject to lookism. I’ve noticed, that the vast majority of people who put their pictures up, either on the fluther picture site, or in their avatars, are very attractive, if now downright beautiful. I’m not going to play that game, if I can avoid it. I reveal information insofar as it is relevant to the question (I’m a parent, I play trumpet, etc, etc).

I argue that fluther is more transparent as it is. If we were encouraged, in our profiles, to reveal traits that people are judged on in the outside world, we would introduce more prejudice and thus, make things far less transparent. As far as I’m concerned, your so-called “honesty” is actually dishonesty, for it drives people apart. It is anti-fluther.

squirbel's avatar

wow. kudos. well stated.

fireside's avatar

@daloon – you guys have race courses at work? that sounds like so much fun! do you get to take turns driving, or are there people who are stuck in the pit crew? : )

DrasticDreamer's avatar

If I tried to represent myself, “as I am” in society, that would be quite a long introduction. For the most part, I would be considered a “white female”, but to say that is to ignore parts of my heritage. I’m also Native American, Irish, Dutch, French and German.

Which is precisely why I don’t represent myself based on my race… Because it’s not just one, easily identifiable thing. As for my gender – that definitely doesn’t represent who I am. According to society I would be very “un-lady like”, but I don’t even believe in any kind of true form of masculine or feminine. I just think people are far too complex for most of the labels we’re given.

wundayatta's avatar

@fireside—Oops. Did I say that? We’re supposed to keep that secret. Please don’t tell anyone. You’ll probably want to know what it’s like to be in a Saleen S7 Twin Turbo. Well, you won’t find out from me, and that’s a fact!

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