Saturday, August 25, 2007

Will You Be My Diversity Friend?

We interrupt the travel blogging for a brief piece of astonishment about a new application on Facebook.

Since Facebook has opened up its interface to allow users to create and promote new apps, we've gotten... a lot of weird stuff. Some good stuff. But my guess is that it will only get weirder before it gets better. ^__^

And thus, trawling through my friends' sites, I unwittingly discovered the "Heritage and Flags" application.

This is an application which allows you to break down your lineage and announce that you are, say, 50% Irish and 30% Italian and 2% Cherokee. (Yes, I know that only adds up to 82%.) This is described, in the application, as "ethnic pride."

For people who have a direct connection to those countries, more props to them; but for all my dear white friends who are 15% this and 4% that... it seems a bit self-indulgent.

Anyway. Here's the icky part. The application then announces on the user's page how many "diversity friends" the person has. Diversity friends, of course, are anyone who has identified themselves as anything besides plain ol' American. It calculates the "diversity" of the user's network and totals the results.

Each percentage of a nationality counts as more diversity points; thus, a person whose entire friend network is made up of white middle-class people from Ohio could garner a high diversity score as long as all of her friends identify themselves with four or five nationalities.

I haven't run the app myself, but I wonder if there is an option for "American." There must be; I can't see an app priding itself on "diversity" leaving any one country out; but then how does American fit into the percentages? I haven't seen any of these "diversity friends" identifying themselves as such.

Ah, but of course... being American is not "ethnic pride."

Blargh.

8 comments:

Ennis said...

One might argue that being American is a political identity, but not an ethnic one. By American, do you perhaps mean "Euro-American", i.e. white of mixed settler decent with only a smidgen of black blood that we don't know about but we suspect is there?

Then again, in India, being American probably is an ethnic identity, so I am sure it looks v. diff. from Hyd.

Blue said...

No, I don't mean "Euro-American." I mean that the American identity should be considered just as valid as the Irish or German or Indian one.

Americans have a culture, after all. It's how people can tell us from Canadians. ^__^

Daniel said...

Are you okay? I just read on BBC news about two explosions in Hyderabad.

Just lemme know you're alive, please. :)

Daniel

Blue said...

Don't worry. Was far away from anything dangerous. Am very alive. ^__^

neha vish said...

What sort of a heartless question is that Blue! Of course I will be your diversity friend. But I need laddoos in return.

Sirensongs said...

These folks seem to be confusing nationality with ethnicity. Then again, most of India does that all the time. Indians from UP are "more" Indian than Indians from Andaman Islands or Manipur because they "look more Indian," whatever that means.

-What's self-indulgent about being proud of your background?

-American should definitely be included. I have to laugh when people try to say we don't have a culture. Such people are usually speaking English, wearing jeans and listening to hiphop. ;-)

Glad you are okay in HYD!

miss bolly said...

I think because America has such a rich history of most of its inhabitants immigrating here from elsewhere that most people are expected to know what their family background is. Other countries around the world have had people living there since time immemorial, so you can be call yourself ethnically Chinese or English or Indian. Of course even those definitions get very fuzzy when you think about thousands of years of different cultures warring or intermingling and how each of those cultures have their own ways of splitting themselves up into yet more groups. But in America we KNOW most of us have families that have come from somewhere else and we're expected to know from where. I think that’s where it comes from.

That said, I totally disagree with it. I’m a white American. I’m pretty sure my family moved here from Europe somewhere waaay back in the day, but we’ve kind of lost track. So when people ask me what I am I always say “I’m American.” And then they say, “No, but where are you from.” And I say, “America.” And then they’ll try to clarify and ask something along the lines of, “No, but where is your family from,” at which point I have to say, “I don’t know. America.”

Blue said...

I also answer that I am American, even though my family can trace its ancestry back to a particular European location.

After all, it's been over 150 years since my first ancestors immigrated.

Sirensongs, there's nothing self-indulgent about being proud of one's background. I think what I find amusing is people claiming a motherland they've never visited, never studied, have no idea about the politics, culture, etc. beyond the most superficial of levels, etc...

Neha, if we ever meet there will be many laddoos. ^__^