I've noticed that...

All people like to make generalizations, but nobody likes to agree with them. I don't want to get into the debate of generalization vs. stereotype here, so I'll leave that to my sociology friends. I find that when I say something along the lines of (any category of people) + (action or characteristic), the recipient will inevitably let me know that their cousin's sister-in-law's manicurist was not like that.

Thank you very much, because your one example just showed me how wrong I was. Let me take it back.

*1 minute later*

Recipient will say, "have you noticed that (people) + (action or characteristic)?"

I'm not sure why we like to find the anecdotal discrepancy. Is it to show that we are open-minded? Is it to demonstrate cleverness? Perhaps it gets at our own fears of being put in a box?

The other option for such generalizations is to tell me how persons outside said group also exhibit the same behaviors. College students love bubble tea? Little kids love it too!

I think generalizations are incredibly helpful as long as they aren't rules and standards. One might argue that having generalizations predisposes you to making incorrect assumptions, but I think everybody's going to make them anyway. Better to have guidelines and hold them loosely than meet everyone with a clean slate. The latter is impossible anyway.

Recently someone pointed me to stuffwhitepeoplelike.com. It's rather funny although you could probably more accurately describe it as stuffwhiteyuppyliberalpeoplelike.com. I checked to see if there was a stuffyellowpeoplelike.com. It exists although there are only two posts, and the most recent one is from March. In future posts, I'd like to try my hand at this topic. Here are some ideas:

#1 Feeding other people
#2 Great Bargains


Anonymous said...

Wow, ALL people like to make generalizations, huh? FYI, my uncle's cousin Tim didn't do that, so...
Ha ha, nice observation; it's true though.

crystalpchau said...

hAHHA rabbitreader. You totally beat me to it =)

Oliver said...

there's actually a site called stuffasianpeoplelike.com.
there's a lot of good laughs on it just like the site stuffwhitepeoplelike.com.
what's actually genius of both of these sites is that because there are so many "controversial" generalizations mentioned and discussed on the sites, they generate much traffic, thus advertising revenue for the site owners. the site owners are making money! genius huh!?

Alice in Wonderland said...

Hm, it is a fine line. Sometimes generalizations are endearing and nonthreatening, and other times it makes me want to chuck a rock at the person.

So far though, I think the only group you can get away with stereotyping is White. And all other flavors of White--British, French, German, etc.

Years of colonial and global domination earns you a seat at that table.

Mark said...

I love stuffwhitepeoplelike.com! Did you know that white people enjoy sweaters and dive bars?!

Of course, if one of the criteria for a dive bar is cheap alcohol, then I'm sure A LOT of people like dive bars!

By the way, the author of the website has parleyed his findings into a (gasp) book!