Assumptions about Class and the Internet
This is something that’s been bugging me for a while when I read blogs of all sorts, though especially those in the personal development and food spheres (two categories where I’m guessing the average blogger has an above-average income). I keep seeing little throwaway sentences that make assumptions about the class and income of whoever’s reading. For example, exhortations to give to charity that are designed to make the reader feel guilty, or posts about cutting back in a recession/when unemployed that urge readers to give up the gym membership and stop shopping at Whole Foods.
Now, I realize that Internet access is a barrier, and that people online as a whole are going to generally have more money and be more likely to live in the “developed” world than the world population as a whole. But with the advent of free Internet access in libraries and other public spaces, the saturation of the Internet in workplaces, and the availability of cheap netbooks with free wifi, there are a lot of people online who aren’t middle class and don’t have disposable income. Thus, this whole guilt language about giving to charity or making “small” purchases has to go, as do blog posts about financial advice that only really apply if you were making about $40K/year before the recession.
I’m not saying that these posts aren’t valuable, just that like any writing it’s a case of knowing your audience. Instead of using language of guilt to make people donate to charity, highlight the good works that your charity of choice does and let people evaluate for themselves whether they’re able to give this year. If you are giving financial advice for middle class people, be explicit about it. Include a note that your tips are directed at those who have plenty, or those who have been employed for a while pre-recession, or singles. Basically, don’t be like this writer.