h1

white males.

April 20, 2009

Ever notice that the default Facebook picture is of a white male? I didn’t. And I certainly didn’t notice that the icons representing the “world” on the login page are both male and female (and orange). Of course, the feminist blog I read did.

Because I never noticed the icon itself, I would have never seen the implied message that unknown users are white and male. However, when killing time on Omegle chatting with strangers, I had that exact realization. Without any real reason, every person I talked to was, in my mind, an American (aka: white) guy until it was specifically mentioned otherwise. It’s a completely unconscious assumption that only become obvious because of my surprise at learning I’m wrong. In case you didn’t realize, there are a lot of people on the Internet that aren’t American. Big surprise, I know.

And for other unknown reasons, I think it’s completely obvious from my text that I’m a girl. Not that I use girly language or massive amounts of emoticons, but I feel there must be something inherently female about the way I communicate online. While default icons may subconsciously influence our assumptions, I think it’s more based off experience. Most people I interact with are white males, and they know that I’m a female. That mindset continues when I start talking with strangers. If I had a more diverse social circle, maybe I’d think differently. Do people in other countries automatically assume they’re talking to American males too?

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One comment

  1. >>Not that I use girly language or massive amounts of emoticons, but I feel there must be something inherently female about the way I communicate online.

    This means that my abuse of various smileys makes me come across as feminine doesn’t it @_@

    >>Do people in other countries automatically assume they’re talking to American males too?

    Clearly, no 😛 Even if the (English speaking) internet is still clearly dominated by American usage, I do not automatically make that assumption. People do drop lots of hints about their background in the text they write, and if there aren’t any clues I can tell overtly I don’t actually tend to assume a particular nationality. Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of a World Wide Web?



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