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Unbearable Whiteness of Blogging

What White People Like The Unfogged gang has three posts in as many days about a wildly popular new blog about which I was previously unaware called Stuff White People Like.

It’s the kind of blog only white people could like: a blog about white people written by white people for other white people that makes fun of white people. Ironically, it makes substantial use of irony, which is one of the things that it makes fun of white people for liking.

Fontana Labs figures that white PhDs will over-analyze the site whereas Ogged seems to take its message to heart, concluding that, “the only proper emotions for reflective affluent Americans are shame and self-loathing.” Then again, he could just be being ironic here, as white people are wont to do.

I find the site and its premises rather amusing.

First, is there any other culture that so hates itself for its own success? Our forebearers spent the last several centuries clawing out of the the deprivations of life on this planet so that the main problem we’re faced with is figuring out how to burn more of the calories we’re consuming so as to not get fat. Rather than seeing this as a good thing, though, we’re apologizing for taking more than our fair share of the world’s wealth — despite creating the wealth to begin with.

Second, most white people would not recognize themselves in the blog. My parents certainly wouldn’t. They might have spent $15 for a sandwich once or twice out of desperation but they sure as hell weren’t happy about it. They don’t have expensive bicycles, recycle, listen to Indie music, or have any clue who any of the directors that white people are supposedly obsessed about are.

Instead, the “white people” about whom the blog is written are the characters of “Friends.” Or, at least, people like that: young, affluent, white people without kids living in a handful of major metropolitan areas.

My wife and I are ‘tweeners in this regard. She moved to the D.C. area shortly out of college thirteen years or so ago and I moved up here in my mid-30s about six years ago. My financial sensibilities are still more Middle America than hers but we certainly spend more money on dining out and similar amenities than I’d have dreamed possible before moving up here. Still, I’ve hardly made the conversion to the lifestyle in question and am incredibly unlikely to do so at this point in my life.

  • I’m not much for sandwiches, period, since I pretty much eat just the meat and bread. I can be talked into a good Philly cheese steak although, like John Kerry, I eschew the Cheez Whiz for Provolone.
  • We love Netflix, although we tend not to watch a lot of Indie flicks (mostly owing to my tastes rather than my wife’s). We did like Juno, though.
  • I don’t own a bicycle or a Toyota Prius. If they made a 350Z Roadster that ran on something other than gasoline, though, I’d consider buying one. Probably used.
  • I don’t use much health care, thankfully, but prefer good-old modern medicine when necessary.
  • Not much of a Japan fetish, although I did like Speed Racer and Ultra Man quite a bit when I was a kid.
  • We do have a fair number of kitchen gadgets, I suppose.
  • We love dogs and have two of them. And two cats, to boot.
  • I really don’t get Sarah Silverman.
  • Living by the water appeals to me but I don’t actually live by the water. The Potomac River is within walking distance, I guess.
  • Not much for vintage.
  • I rather like Whole Foods but don’t much shop there any more since I no longer pass by one on my way home from work.
  • My wife and I both have Political Science degrees. Indeed, I’ve got three of them.
  • I don’t really read the Sunday New York Times. I used to read the Sunday Washington Post but now just scan parts of both of them — along with numerous other sources — online before my wife gets up.
  • We do like Asian Fusion. We like regular Asian, too, for that matter.
  • I’ve listened to NPR for years.
  • Plays are okay, I guess, but we really don’t go to a lot of them. I’ve never been to a film festival, though.
  • Like Alan Jackson, I like my sushi Southern fried.
  • I’m a PC guy, not a Mac guy. My wife does have an iPod, however.
  • I’ve never seen “Arrested Development.” Maybe it’ll be one of those series we watch after the fact via the miracle of Netflix.
  • We are in fact doing minor renovations on our house on an ongoing basis. Worse yet, it’s not an old fixer-upper with character but rather a 15-year-old Colonial. But we’re nonetheless replacing carpet with hardwoods and planning on upgrading our kitchen appliances.
  • I actually kind of like breakfast places but seldom actually eat in them. Mostly, because I don’t like them enough to stand in line for an hour.
  • Neither “The Daily Show” nor “The Colbert Report” are really aimed at me. We TiVo’d the latter for a couple weeks but the shtick wore thin pretty quickly.
  • We eat steak a couple times a week, so we’re in no danger of becoming vegetarians, let alone vegans.
  • I’ve never been snowboarding in my life. I went skiing a couple of times as a kid living in Germany.
  • We very much have a TV. Indeed, we’ve got three HDTVs, two of which are at least 60 inches.
  • Neither of us have ever run a marathon. I’ve done a handful of 10ks, though, in the distant past. Mostly, though, because the Army made me run.
  • We do like wine and microbrewed beer.
  • We’ve got just the one last name. My wife made her old last name her middle name but she doesn’t hyphenate it.
  • We do travel quite a bit, mostly to the First World and tropical vacation spots in the Third. We like the former better, though, and are likely to do more of that.
  • I actually work for a non-profit now, although they don’t pay me six figures and there’s quite a bit of both accountability and pressure. My wife’s firm makes a very nice profit, though.
  • I find Barack Obama likable enough but decidedly don’t want him to be our next president.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. yetanotherjohn says:

    Perhaps the missing ingredient is the site is really about liberal white people written by white people for other white people that makes fun of liberal white people

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  2. Tlaloc says:

    Rather than seeing this as a good thing, though, we’re apologizing for taking more than our fair share of the world’s wealth — despite creating the wealth to begin with.

    It’s not the wealth- it’s the resources. We didn’t create those and yet we are consuming them prodigiously, and encouraging others to do the same (by deed, if not word).

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  3. Fredw says:

    What is it with the cheeze wiz on Philly steal sandwiches myth? I have not lived in Phila for a few years, but when I left, no one but Genos used cheese wiz. Most used provolone or mozzirella. Cheese wiz tases like, well, wizz.

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  4. Steven Donegal says:

    This post is so…so…white.

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  5. Is It “in” To Be White, Now?…

    Maybe. Or perhaps, as usual, people still use “white” as a sort of signifier for “middle class.” Now that’s irony. Joyner cops to being white—though not on all stereotypical fronts—and Sandra Tsing Loh referred to herself recently in T…

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  6. mannning says:

    Oh woe! Woe is us! We are running out of resources! Woe, woe, woe! Another Club of Rome cat let out to howl.

    The very industries that use resources, and the public demand for products going far into the future, will ensure that viable alternatives will be forthcoming. Science and engineering will have the answers.

    O ye of little faith!

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  7. William d'Inger says:

    I’ve read a couple dozen articles at that site, and now I’m worried. I must not be white. The culture described therein is as alien to my experience as if I had suddenly awoken this morning in, say, Thimpu. It’s too bad my parents are deceased because I can’t ask them if I was adopted.

    For the record, my favorite song is “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” by Huey P. Smith and the Clowns. Futhermore, the most I ever paid for a sandwich, pre-Katrina, was maybe $3 for a roast beef po-boy, although prices have inflated dramatically since the storm.

    One thing is true, however. I did teach English in Japan, … well sort of … It was a matter of having a teenage motorcycle gang pin me to a wall with their bikes late one night in downtown Kagoshima. “We’re taking English in high school,” they said, “so speak to us, sailor!” What I learned from that conversation is that English instruction in Japan is superior to what passes for English in American high schools.

    My best guess is the “Stuff” site describes the culture of the Northeast Corridor between DC and Boston. I generally find those people insufferable because they think they are typical Americans whereas I find (most of) them woefully ignorant of anything outside their home range.

    The best education I ever had was being sent all over the world by the military. There’s nothing like face to face communication with foreigners on their turf to dash any preconceived stereotypes one might have.

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  8. Mithras says:

    I can be talked into a good Philly cheese steak although, like John Kerry, I eschew the Cheez Whiz for Provolone.

    Kerry asked for swiss. A no-no here. It’s not that asking for something other than wizz is bad, but the only other acceptable choices are american, provolone and mozzarella. Why? Because it’s South Philly.

    Tlaloc-
    I have not lived in Phila for a few years, but when I left, no one but Genos used cheese wiz.

    Jim’s on South has a vat of it on the grill. A lot of tourists get their steaks there.

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  9. Mithras says:

    manning-
    The very industries that use resources, and the public demand for products going far into the future, will ensure that viable alternatives will be forthcoming.

    Right, and when disaster strikes, companies will be there to make money cleaning up the mess or burying the bodies. Markets don’t care whether you live or die, and sometimes the invisible hand acts via mass die-offs. What’s there to worry about? I’ve got mine.

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  10. Tlaloc says:

    The very industries that use resources, and the public demand for products going far into the future, will ensure that viable alternatives will be forthcoming. Science and engineering will have the answers.

    And the evidence for this contention is…

    an example of counter-evidence would be the indigenous people of the Easter Islands who cut deforested their island and promptly faced a population crash.

    Other than blind faith is there any reason to believe that science and technology can replace oil, for example? And if the replacement is also limited, such as liqifaction of coal, then what happens when the substitute is exhausted?

    Having faith in science and engineering is oxymoronic.

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  11. Tlaloc says:

    Tlaloc-
    I have not lived in Phila for a few years, but when I left, no one but Genos used cheese wiz.

    That wasn’t me. I’ve never lived in philly.

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  12. Tlaloc says:

    BTW…

    in spirit of the original post I suggest this:

    Black People Love Us!

    hi-larious.

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  13. Tano says:

    There is an issue here that has always caused me to not “get” something about my fellow Americans. I grew up on a couple of very densly populated islands less than a mile or so off the Atlantic coast of America – you know the place, its often referred to as the “center of the universe”.

    When growing up there, our group cultural identities were based on the country that either we, or our parents, or grandparents or great-grandparents came from. We were Italians, Irish, Germans, etc. There were also blacks, or negroes, or Afro-Americans – just another group of easily recognizable people from yet another culture. To the extent that we embraced a cultural identity greater than that ethnic group, it was as New Yorkers, and then higher, Americans. What we never really did was to lump together all the non-African groups into a “white” consciousness. All the groups had all of the usual confrontations with eachother, raw feelings, trash talking, turf battles. But the Irish, Italians and blacks, for example, were always three distinct groups – not really any sense of a shared identity between the first two.

    As I ventured out into the mainland, I always found it odd this concept of “whiteness”. Of course I came to understand how central the concept was to the history of the nation, and how pervasive it was to understanding the dynamics at play, but it always seemd bizarre to me. Just the legacy, no doubt, from having grown up in our national immigrant halfway house.

    I guess it is why I have always felt repelled by the notion of whiteness as a cultural identity that I was supposedly part of. It seems a cultural construct erected on purpose by those whose primary motivation was the enslavement and oppression of black people. My earliest familial roots in this country date from 1906, and we didnt get off those islands until the ’60s. That was, of course, just the time when the country was being convulsed by the destruction of the segregationist culture, at least in a legal and official sense. Thats the first time I ever really encountered the concept of “whiteness” in a serious manner, and those who were speaking about it were clearly pushing an agenda that I found distasteful in the extreme.

    I don’t know how prevelant my perspective is on these matters, but I do know that I am not the only one who feels this way. Bottom line – I dont see or feel any attachment or attraction to some “white culture”, and it has nothing to do with self-loathing or whatever other nonsense gets deployed regularly in these discussions.

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  14. Triumph says:

    Mostly, though, because the Army made me run.

    Whites hate the Army.

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  15. ERROR 3778234 — GUILT QUOTA EXCEEDED

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  16. John425 says:

    Tlaloc moans…”It’s not the wealth- it’s the resources. We didn’t create those and yet we are consuming them prodigiously”

    So? Are you so much like Chicken Little that you don’t read about up and coming advances? Like…Hydrogen fuel cells for cars? Composite materials instead of mining for ore? CD’s/DVD’s instead of trees made into newsprint and encyclopedias? There’s more but refuting this is tiresome.

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  17. Anon says:

    So? Are you so much like Chicken Little that you don’t read about up and coming advances? Like…Hydrogen fuel cells for cars? Composite materials instead of mining for ore? CD’s/DVD’s instead of trees made into newsprint and encyclopedias?

    Well, the fuel for fuel cells still has to come from somewhere. Energy is our biggest problem. As long as we have lots of energy, most other resource issues are not so big.

    I think we can always use nuclear if none of the other technologies work out. However, I do agree with Tlaloc that much of the carefree talk seems to be based on blind faith, rather than reason.

    And, before I get accused of being ignorant of basic economics, of course I do not believe that we will wake up one day and be “out of oil”. I realize that instead there will be a steady increase in the price of oil, which will spur R&D in better extraction methods, and alternative sources of energy.

    I just don’t have a blind faith that the transition will be so smooth that major upheaval will be averted.

    Anyway, like I said, at least there is always nuclear. If we didn’t have that, I’d be a lot more concerned.

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  18. Tlaloc says:

    So? Are you so much like Chicken Little that you don’t read about up and coming advances? Like…Hydrogen fuel cells for cars? Composite materials instead of mining for ore? CD’s/DVD’s instead of trees made into newsprint and encyclopedias? There’s more but refuting this is tiresome.

    Okay, John, let’s talk about those.

    First up Hydrogen fuel cells. You know how much free Hydrogen there is on earth, John? Zero, essentially. Our atmosphere is 0.000055% Hydrogen gas. By comparison we have over three times as much Methane in the atmosphere. SO where do we get the hydrogen for our fuel cells? Well by electrolysis of water mainly. Add energy to water and you break it up into its component parts (Hydrogen and oxygen.

    Uh-oh. “Add energy”? Yeah. Now ten minutes with a thermodynamics text book will help you realize that the energy we get out of the hydrogen can’t be larger than the enegry we put into liberating it in the first place.

    See where this is going? Hydrogen fuel cells accomplish nothing. Hydrogen is a medium for carrying energy from another source, not an energy source of itself.

    “Composite materials instead of mining for oars”? Out of curiosity when you say “composite” wouldn’t that in fact mean they are made out of two or more other materials? And are by chance these other materials things of limited quantity?

    “CD’s/DVD’s instead of trees made into newsprint and encyclopedias?” Know what CDs are made of? Plastic and Aluminum. Plastic, of course, comes from Oil. Neither oil nor Aluminum are available in limitless quantities. Furthermore despite the the capabilities of CDs and DVDs world use of paper has not declined and in fact is still going up.

    BTW, yes, I am aware of a great many of the near future advances, apparently to a far greater degree than you are.

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  19. Tlaloc says:

    I think we can always use nuclear if none of the other technologies work out.

    Fuel for nuclear fission is no more plentiful than oil. Now if someone actually develops a cold temperature fusion we can talk, but in the mean time nuclear is a dead end.

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  20. Tlaloc says:

    And, before I get accused of being ignorant of basic economics, of course I do not believe that we will wake up one day and be “out of oil”. I realize that instead there will be a steady increase in the price of oil, which will spur R&D in better extraction methods, and alternative sources of energy.

    The problem is that oil, by itself, fuels so much of our economy and so many aspects of transportation and manufacturing that all you would need is one really big spike in price and the whole system could implode. It wouldn’t even have to be that long a spike. How many people on this board could survive a week if gas prices spiked to $20 a gallon? Keep in mind your local store isn’t going to have any goods, because they can’t afford to with transport costs so high. Do you live within walking distance of farms sufficient to feed your family? Do those farms by any chance use gas powered tractors to harvest their crops?

    We’ve built our infrastructure into a very tall thin tower. It has two legs- coal (for electricity) and oil (for transportation and plastics). it teeters every time there is a minor disruption to the flow of oil. A major disruption will topple it in a heartbeat.

    But hey, don’t believe me. Listen to the Chinese. A major portion of their military strategy in case of war with the US is to temporarily disrupt our oil supplies, probably with help from the Iranians:

    Assassin’s mace

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  21. Anon says:

    Fuel for nuclear fission is no more plentiful than oil. Now if someone actually develops a cold temperature fusion we can talk, but in the mean time nuclear is a dead end.

    Really? The consensus opinion seems to be that we have enough, especially with the possibility of breeder reactors, to last us quite a while.

    Obviously, I’m ignoring issues such as nuclear waste, etc. If it means the end of civilization, or accepting significantly higher risk than what I’d like, I’ll take the higher risk.

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  22. Tlaloc says:

    Really? The consensus opinion seems to be that we have enough, especially with the possibility of breeder reactors, to last us quite a while.

    The people who say that are relying on a lot of unfounded assumptions. This paper pretty much breaks it down:
    Nuclear fuel resources

    Anything beyond EAR-I is speculative and anything beyond EAR-II is pretty much wishful thinking. People who talk about limitless supplies of uranium are talking about getting it from seawater, an idea which is a long long ways from being anything but dorm room pot-fantasy.

    As for breeder reactors, they are essentially an unproven technology. There’s exactly one working breeder reactor in the world right now; its russian, 30 years old, and it requires much more highly enriched rods than your usual reactor. That’s not encouraging.

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  23. Anon says:

    The people who say that are relying on a lot of unfounded assumptions. This paper pretty much breaks it down:

    Hm…interesting. Going on EAR-1 resources, using current vanilla technology, if we completely switched to nuclear, we’d have enough for less than 10 years at current levels of energy consumption.

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  24. Tlaloc says:

    There several breakthroughs that could occur which would make nuclear a solid choice, they just haven’t happened yet, and we can’t really assume they will happen.

    On the other hand it wouldn’t hurt to create something like the strategic oil reserve but for uranium (maybe there already is one?). At the worst it would let us keep our current nurlear power going for a while longer and in the best case it might position us well to transition to a nuclear energy economy if one of those breakthroughs does pan out.

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  25. Anon says:

    It always feel kind of weird to me when I hear people espousing some kind of blind faith that there will always be new technology to make all resource problems go away. Scientific computing is one of my research areas, so I think, “Wait a minute, these believers are counting on people just like my collaborators and I to solve all the world’s problems!” Of course, I’m optimistic and hopeful that civilization, more or less as we know it, will continue indefinitely, but I certainly don’t feel the blind faith that they seem to have in us!

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  26. Tlaloc says:

    I’m a physicist by education and I work for a fortune 500 semiconductor company.

    SOme of the stuff we do is absolutely amazing, I mean mind blowingly cool. But some of it is also just retarded. I wish we lived in a world where the best ideas always won out and get the support they deserved. We just don’t. Sometimes people write the date as two number to save time. :)

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  27. Steph says:

    I found one thing on the list I like. Going to Wrigley Field.

    That has got to be the dumbest most racist site I have ever seen.

    If I starter a blog things black people like I’d be pilloried.

    I’m not a complete moron and am not a racist unlike the person who runs the blog so I never would.

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  28. […] James Joyner gets the credit for finding this one. […]

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