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You raise a very good point: when on America On-line, I get the weird
feeling that many of the people I am having simultaneous real-time
discussions with (about any number of pressing social issues, such as
welfare reform or affirmative action) think I am a WASP simply because of
my writing style or skills.  Although no one with whom I have conversed
via AOL has said anything profoundly derogatory, especially when
discussing affirmative action or welfare reform, issues that often-times
elicit rhetoric of the lowest common denominator (such as "welfare
queens", etc.), nonetheless, people I talk with assume I am WASP, which I
am not.  As a result, their rhetoric assumes a "us" (i.e. me and the
often explicitly stated white individuals) and "them" hue.  Thus, people
will talk with me and say things like, "we (me and the other person on
AOL) have to do something for them (i.e. the poor minorities" --  or,
people will say things like "those people (poor, welfare-bound
minorities) are living off the hard-earned dollars of us (white, AOL
members)."
 
When I state my race, many of the AOL members I am talking with change
their tone --  not to meanness mind you.  Rather, they become more
careful with the words they choose.  Funny isn't it?  Just though I'd
pass my experience along.
 
/s/ Tony
 
On Mon, 10 Apr 1995, Virnoche Mary wrote:
 
> I was at the conference on Computers, Privacy and Freedom last week where
> the cartoon "On the internet no one knows you are a dog" came up more
> than once.  On a panel concerning minority issues, one African American
> participant noted as a follow up to the cartoon: "What's wrong with being
> a dog?"  While his comment brought laughter and applause, it also made an
> important point.  Anonymity and identity changes while a novelty to many
> present net users... may have different meaning to different
> populations.  We might consider the potential implications of anonymity
> to different populations as we try to bring those who are
> underrepresented into the electronic communications networks.
>
> Mary
>
> *****************************************************
> Mary E. Virnoche
> Research Assistant
> Boulder Community Network
>
> Department of Sociology           Phone: 303-492-6269
> Campus Box 327                      FAX: 303-492-8878
> University of Colorado at Boulder
> Boulder, CO 80309
>
> *****************************************************
> Check out the Boulder Community Network:
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