General Question

Dansedescygnes's avatar

Why do people use one person to represent an entire group of people?

Asked by Dansedescygnes (2881points) May 3rd, 2009

I’m sick of people using one person from a certain group to be the poster child for that entire group. This whole Perez Hilton thing is ridiculous. People seem to think that he represents all gay people and they are using that as an “excuse” to hate gay people. (To be honest, I don’t need nor want respect or support from people who are teetering on the brink of hating gay people and not hating them). But this is so stupid. There was a comment on YouTube that said something like “I don’t have a problem with gay people, but Perez Hilton is a disgusting fag.” And it had like 5 upvotes. So many meatheaded morons out there…

I just don’t understand the point of using one person to represent the whole. It obviously means you don’t care about understanding that group. You’re just looking for an excuse to push your own [idiotic] beliefs.

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26 Answers

Mamradpivo's avatar

Convenience. It’s easier to point to one example than to make a nuanced argument.

babygalll's avatar

Eliminates chaos from everyone talking at once.

cookieman's avatar

who’s Perez Hilton?

eponymoushipster's avatar

i think i speak for everyone when i say people who use fluther are awesome!!

YARNLADY's avatar

When people have a specific agenda to push, it is much easier to use a single example to illustate their point, and if that individual is newsworthy, so much the better.

I doubt that it is a very wide spread act. The people I’ve seen usually have experienced several instances of the point they are trying to make, no matter how small a sample that is.

bright_eyes00's avatar

Its a lump-sum thing that Americans are known for. Generally, if there is mass publicity on a particular individual for something controversial then the idea being broadcasted is typically what people will adopt. stems from being too lazy to educate oneself about a situation/event.

you see the same thing in politics. you also see it ALL the time about religion. My whole family is mormon and i was baptized in it but i consider myself just Christian (i aint a practicing mormon) and believe me i hear all sorts of things from different people but they are usually saying the same thing about mormons (normally a lot of negative things).

I feel that you shouldn’t judge a whole based on one. I try to base all my decisions on one individuals actions. that way you avoid unjustly ostracizing people.

we should celebrate the individual spirit and those who can be true to their own ideas and beliefs without allowing others to dictate who/what they will become.

i think you’re something for stepping outside the world of mass thought and ignoring the general consensus. good on you :)

Jayne's avatar

People are always better at seeing one person rather than a group. We can relate to a person, we can sympathize with or hate them- that’s why charity organizations often use personal stories to gain support, rather than statistics that are technically more meaningful. The exact reason that it is ridiculous to represent a group with one person- that the group is too diverse- also makes it difficult for the public to avoid doing so. A diverse group lacks unified character, it lacks personality, and so people choose to find that personality in one person.

SuperMouse's avatar

It is much, much easier to judge an entire group of people based on one person or a common stereotype than it is to actually get to know people.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@SuperMouse i know, it’s so irritating. Now all the chicks are like “oh gosh, are ALL the flutherers as sexy as you?!” and i’m all “not really. well, a few.”

geez, get to know me. i’m not a piece of meat.

fundevogel's avatar

Maybe we should assign mascot for each group. That way if say, a Christian, wanted to make Perez Hilton the end all be all of homosexuals they would have to accept Jerry Falwell as the penultimate Christian.

It would get pretty interesting when you got down to really small groups. Like Inuits—do you know any famous Inuits? You’d end up with something like, “that half Native American guy from Northern Exposure” who was really just a white guy with high cheek bones.

Jayne's avatar

@fundevogel; I don’t think penultimate means what you think it does.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Jayne unless the Rapture is for real, and it’s Falwell and Pat Robertson

Jayne's avatar

@eponymoushipster; that certainly would be worthy of the apocalypse.

_bob's avatar

Lack of statistics knowledge, which leads to an inaccurate idea of what constitutes a representative sample.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Jayne yeah, but then they’d go gay and it’d get weird.

fundevogel's avatar

@Jayne you are right. Apparently it’s prefix modifies a definition of ‘ultimate’ I was unfamiliar with.

Aethelwine's avatar

Your question should read “Why do some people”. Not everyone uses one person to represent a group of people. If someone does that, they are ignorant.

Dansedescygnes's avatar


If I had meant “all people”, I would’ve said “all people”. Just saying “people” doesn’t indicate whether I mean “all” or “some”—it’s up to your imagination. Though it’s pretty obvious what I meant.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Dansedescygnes I’m on your side. I gave you a GQ! I hate it when people do what you are asking! :)

TaoSan's avatar

I’d hate Perez Hilton even if he was a hermaphrodite….

_bob's avatar

@Dansedescygnes Using your logic, don’t the people who hate gay people only hate some gay people?

Dansedescygnes's avatar


“Hating gay people” is usually not a matter of hating individuals, but of hating a group. Most people who say that are speaking generally, because they have a problem with the group.

And can we please not turn this into an argument about the word choice in the question? I’m sick of [some of] my questions turning into this.

_bob's avatar

@Dansedescygnes No problemo; laters.

kate1746's avatar

Yesterday I did a walk for MS. The one lady who seemed to be heady things up was so abrasive and obnoxious. Her high pitched nagging voice was to say the least, extremely irritating. I can’t imagine that she was voted into this position. I can only assume that she put herself there. Unfortunately, characteristics like egoism, pushiness, & moronism help these people self-appoint themselves into the role spokesperson. Which sucks for us.
I would never judge an entire mass of people on one person though, i think alot of people feel the same way. Perez Hilton is an exaggerated idiot (but it works for so if that’s how he wants to make his money good for him), but i would never assume that all of the homosexuals in the world were represented by him, or anything like him (aside from sexual preference) for that matter. I don’t know.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

lack of intelligence.
some people do not know how to discriminate between an individual and a group, and generalize everything. it is ridiculous.

i think perez is funny, but i by no means view him as a ‘representative’ of gay men

KalWest's avatar


“They’re just looking for an excuse to push their own [idiotic] beliefs.”

Hit. Nail. Head, My brother

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