Gendered use of social media
April 28, 2010 8:58 AM   Subscribe

"The social world is led by women," states Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Jenna Goudreau for Forbes reports on recent studies and data which suggest that men and women are motivated to use social media for different purposes. According to experts, women use social media to connect and share, while men are interested in gathering information and "increasing their status." via Jezebel
posted by la_scribbler (85 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
men play farmville like this
women play farmville like this
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:04 AM on April 28, 2010 [16 favorites]


They can have it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:06 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The social world is led by women," states Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

seems it would be more fitting were her title CEO.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:06 AM on April 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


while men are interested in gathering information and "increasing their status."

Or merely to extend their unhinged hilarity to uncharted realms. . .
posted by Danf at 9:07 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Women be talkin', boy!
posted by Mister_A at 9:07 AM on April 28, 2010


Deborah Tannen has covered this ground pretty thoroughly already in "You Just Don't Understand".
posted by josher71 at 9:08 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What may be an evolutionary fact turns out to be a marketer's dream.
We've come a long way, baby.
posted by heyho at 9:09 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


men play farmville like this
women play farmville like this


men play mafia wars
women play farmville

ftfy;
posted by edbles at 9:09 AM on April 28, 2010


I guess I'm a social media hermaphrodites since I discuss ideas and keep up relationships on my facebooks.

Seriously though I don't understand the differences from that article. The examples were really weak:

Diana Windley, 39, is a good example. The assistant vice president of marketing at Goldenwest Credit Union in Utah uses several networking sites mainly to keep up with friends and read and discuss things she likes, rather than using it for business or promotional purposes

On the other hand, Allen Chen, 31, a communications assistant at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, uses networking sites as mediums to discuss ideas rather than share personal information. He logs onto Facebook several times a day to post interesting articles, which solicit responses from his 175 friends.


They both talk about thing they are interested in with people. How are those not identical except for semantics?
posted by anti social order at 9:10 AM on April 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Psychologist Leslie Sokol, author of self-help book Think Confident, Be Confident, believes virtual communication differences between men and women can be tracked back through history as evolutionary methods of survival. Throughout time, males have been in competition with each other, even in the animal kingdom, she says. "The sexiest bird with the brightest plumage and best territory got all the women." Because it was in their best interest not to show weaknesses or give away their strategies, men became more reserved as an adaptive method, she says.




"Why are we at the zoo, Dad?"

"Look at those beautiful birds, Timmy. Aren't they sexy? Did you know that the male of the speci..."

"Ohgawd, this isn't going to be a sex-talk is it?"

"No, I was trying to explain why mommy likes Twitter and daddy likes Digg."
posted by 23skidoo at 9:12 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Men discuss ideas, you know man stuff like computers and internets, women discuss things (you know like ponies and yogurt).
posted by edbles at 9:13 AM on April 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


How are those not identical except for semantics?

Ideas and experiences women have are unimportant and therefore become only 'personal information' -- just books 'they like'. Ideas and experiences men have are so much more 'interesting' that they lead to an accumulation of power and an impressively large bulk of power-friends.
posted by Valet at 9:15 AM on April 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Can I talk about yogurt too?
posted by sciurus at 9:17 AM on April 28, 2010


Can I talk about yogurt too?

N.O.W. might need to vote on that.
posted by edbles at 9:19 AM on April 28, 2010


'cuse me, I'm gonna go hang out with the anti-social women in the back.


and by hang-out I mean smoke cigarettes and scoff at people
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Men are also more active users of YouTube, with about 20% more men visiting the video-sharing site per week, according to the BlogHer-iVillage study. Camahort Page believes men prefer the site because it is more passive. "[YouTube] is about finding, consuming and passing along content, but it's not about conversation."

Incorrect. YouTube is for watching dudes getting hit in the nuts with objects and cats riding robots. Clearly men like watching other men get hit in the nuts and kitties.

Look! I can reverse engineer my conclusions based on what I expect to find too!
posted by edbles at 9:21 AM on April 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


According to experts, women use social media to connect and share, while men are interested in gathering information and "increasing their status."
Isn't the number of people one "connects" with one of the major measurements of "status"?
posted by Karmakaze at 9:21 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This sort of moronic psuedo-science makes my male hands want to smash.
posted by klangklangston at 9:27 AM on April 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


"connect with others like me"

I'd like to connect with others like me, except there aren't any.
posted by digsrus at 9:31 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can I talk about yogurt too?

If there's some in your fridge behind the supermarket BBQ chicken and the bottle of water, I don't see why not. You do know it's advertiser-code for talking about Good Poops! right?
posted by bonehead at 9:33 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This sort of moronic psuedo-science makes my male hands want to smash.

By contrast, female hands would seek to connect with something and share feelings of destruction with it rather than smash it.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:33 AM on April 28, 2010 [20 favorites]


No, I've read enough about the difference between men and women for this lifetime. Let me tell you a story instead.

I was at a party in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1977. It was a bunch of teachers I didn't know. All the men were in a circle outside with beers in their hands talking about sports. All the women were inside talking about recipes and children.

I didn't stay too long.
posted by kozad at 9:33 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Facebook is just a social construct.
posted by Babblesort at 9:34 AM on April 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


I also enjoy talking about good poops.
posted by sciurus at 9:35 AM on April 28, 2010


By contrast, female hands would seek to connect with something and share feelings of destruction with it rather than smash it.

i always thought handjobs were underappreciated.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:35 AM on April 28, 2010


We need a new game, one that will appeal to everyone: Mafia Farm.
"Won't you help Hitman Tony bury the bodies to fertilize his crops?"
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:39 AM on April 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


Let us not forget that an alien species would have trouble sexing* us.

*I mean figuring out what gender a particular member of the species is.** You perv.

**What? Are they color coded? Maybe the colorful ones are the males, like everywhere else on this godforsaken planet.
posted by poe at 9:40 AM on April 28, 2010


Can I talk about yogurt too?

Yeah, waht's up with that shit puddin' yogurt anyways? If you can't turn your yogurt container upside down with confidence of it not falling out it aint yogurt, it's wank.

YouTube is for watching dudes getting hit in the nuts with objects

Ow! My Balls!


This lady was just (1/2 hour ago) on Wisconsin Public Radio, talking about similar things. Turns out, when all is said and done there is a 1/3 standard deviation difference in language skills.
posted by edgeways at 9:41 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm so male I'm not even ON FaceBook. I don't socialize and I know how to gather information on the Internet.
posted by DU at 9:41 AM on April 28, 2010


"Clearly men like watching other men get hit in the nuts and kitties."

Tell me more about getting hit in the kitties.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:42 AM on April 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm tired of hearing about how I'm supposed to be competing with other men all the time. I opt out of the arms/penis race. If that means I'm an evolutionary failure, great!
posted by naju at 9:44 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm so male I'm not even ON FaceBook.

Most of the guys (I would say all, but I'm not sure it's 100%) I know who are on Facebook finally succumbed to pressure after strenuously resisting for a loooong time. Their participation might be termed "passive" in that it largely consists of refraining on a daily basis from deleting their account.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:45 AM on April 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Kitties are like taters but for straight people porn. Getting hit in them hurts a lot.
posted by edbles at 9:45 AM on April 28, 2010


Their participation might be termed "passive" in that it largely consists of refraining on a daily basis from deleting their account.

I eventually succumbed to the urge to delete when the load of "PersonYouNeverWantedToTalkToAgain wants to be friends!" grew heavy enough. That list is like the middle school hallway of the internet.
posted by DU at 9:48 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was at a party in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1977. It was a bunch of teachers I didn't know. All the men were in a circle outside with beers in their hands talking about sports. All the women were inside talking about recipes and children.

I was at a party last weekend. 3 guys and 2 women were in the kitchen talking about video games (go alister!), 2 women and 3 men were in the living room taking about hockey (go caps!).


"[YouTube] is about finding, consuming and passing along content, but it's not about conversation."

Weird. I think most of the fun/horror on youtube is the comments.
posted by anti social order at 9:49 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I opt out of the arms/penis race. If that means I'm an evolutionary failure, great!

*defriends naju. watch as naju spins down the black vortex of natural selection*
posted by Think_Long at 9:49 AM on April 28, 2010


The arms/penis race would be a lot more entertaining than the shirts/skins one.
posted by DU at 9:51 AM on April 28, 2010


Someone tell me, did this study adjust for men and women who were not employed full time or have no children?
posted by spicynuts at 9:51 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


but what about all the sex workers using social media to "connect" with johns or single moms using facebook to hook up. I resent all women being put in the takes-about-recipes category.
posted by Carlin at 9:52 AM on April 28, 2010


According to experts, men and women use social media to share artifacts such as this.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:05 AM on April 28, 2010


"We're women--we like to talk about things. Women use social media as a way to connect," says Jodi Kahn, the head of iVillage.

Oh. GAG.
posted by crackingdes at 10:09 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I eventually succumbed to the urge to delete when the load of "PersonYouNeverWantedToTalkToAgain wants to be friends!" grew heavy enough. That list is like the middle school hallway of the internet."

Last night I got a friend request from someone I went to high school with, whom I last talked to over ten years ago, with my final words being, "Fuck you. You were always a fucking bitch to me and I'm not going to pretend that we're friends. Fuck off." I will not accept her friend request until there's a way to squirt her with cat urine through her monitor.
posted by klangklangston at 10:11 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Clearly men like watching other men get hit in the nuts and kitties."

Two flavors that go together like peanut butter and chocolate.
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 10:15 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The social networks I hang out the most in are definitely dominated by women. (LJ/JF/DW media fandom.) I know there's been reams of papers and discussion about why, but whatever, I like it. Occasionally some guy will bitch and moan about how they're so "oppressed" by all the women but they're ignored/mocked until they go away.
posted by kmz at 10:17 AM on April 28, 2010


"I eventually succumbed to the urge to delete when the load of "PersonYouNeverWantedToTalkToAgain wants to be friends!" grew heavy enough. That list is like the middle school hallway of the internet."

The guys I know also tend to think that load is too heavy when it hits 1, "but it's not really about being friends" arguments of their sig others notwithstanding. I kind of thought this was a generational thing, but (data point) my nieces seem to have about 200 "friends" apiece while my nephews average about 8.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:18 AM on April 28, 2010




Also, I just have to say directly how stupid the linked article is--how many men write comments, interact, argue with others, crack jokes and tease, etc., here on the blue every day? On sites like Reddit, Fark, Digg, etc.? LOTS of men are talking to each other (and to women!) online, it's just via comment threads on social bookmarking sites and so forth, not on Facebook or iVillage or wherever these women hang out. (The only difference I can see, maybe, is that men seem to enjoy talking about ideas or stuff a little more, women about people. Perhaps that explains the difference in gender participation on the blue and the green here.)

Sheryl Sandberg's perspective also belies the incredible solipsism that Facebook has developed, which unfortunately is metastasizing in the ways they are trying to force-integrate FB into all of your browsing.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:32 AM on April 28, 2010


Sheryl Sandberg is trying to sell advertising to compannies who aren't currently advertising with Facebook, her comments should be regarded in that light.
posted by edbles at 10:41 AM on April 28, 2010


Vogue has a pretty good profile of Sheryl Sandberg:
An hour after work on a Thursday evening, she can, without a hitch, welcome 40 women into her home for dinner; just before the first guests arrive, she tucks her two pre-schoolers into bed, disappears for ten minutes, then emerges to answer the door in a sleeveless Calvin Klein dress and black Prada ankle boots. She calls these informal gatherings—a mix of venture capitalists, tech-company execs, moms, book-club friends, and her sister, Michelle—the Women of Silicon Valley,
There will be a day when business women can be like Richard Branson and just do cool things and smoke a lot of dope. Right now we're stuck with Betty Draper on amphetamines.

Funny, a lot of women in my undergrad business classes were exactly like this. I don't know what it is about the business world that attracts this type-A sort of super-woman personality, or why this is particularly aspirational, but I've known a lot of Sheryl Sandberg types. I guess it is better than aspiring to be a huge Patrick Bateman asshole, but this seems so backward (and the drive to achieve everything to everyone just seems so ... Stepford Wives).
posted by geoff. at 10:47 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


"The sexiest bird with the brightest plumage and best territory got all the women."

What do birds want with women???

Damn, more competition I didn't even know I had!
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:49 AM on April 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of a conversation I had with my 4-year-old daughter.

Daughter: Girls like to play with dolls and boys like to play with cars.
Mother: Well, honey, are there toys that boys and girls can play with together?
Daughter: Yeah, GUNS!
posted by stinker at 10:50 AM on April 28, 2010 [21 favorites]


Isn't the number of people one "connects" with one of the major measurements of "status"?
posted by Karmakaze at 12:21 PM on April 28 [1 favorite +] [!]


While some people seem to believe it's the number of MeFi spouses, I'm pretty sure status is measured in 'favorites'.
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:58 AM on April 28, 2010


men play mafia wars
women play farmville


Not in my experience. The divide is "people who like to play games" and "people who don't want to hear about your farmfishmafia." They're about even, genderwise.

I think that this article is merely using semantics to reinforce mundane gender stereotypes. Marketing people tend to put people in little boxes. Those boxes don't necessarily reveal anything deep.

While women often use online social networking tools to make connections and share items from their personal lives, men use them as means to gather information and increase their status.

Perhaps it's a perception held by the participants, but the actual activities performed are not necessarily different. Sharing a newspaper article or political rant or a funny video, and posting that you're on vacation or what you had for dinner or that you want a different job could all be "gathering information, increasing your status, making connections, or sharing items from one's personal life."

Certainly women post about their kids more. Responsibility for the day-to-day care of children still falls disproportionately to women. Duh.
posted by desuetude at 11:00 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


An hour after work on a Thursday evening, she can, without a hitch, welcome 40 women into her home for dinner; just before the first guests arrive, she tucks her two pre-schoolers into bed, disappears for ten minutes, then emerges to answer the door in a sleeveless Calvin Klein dress and black Prada ankle boots. She calls these informal gatherings—a mix of venture capitalists, tech-company execs, moms, book-club friends, and her sister, Michelle—the Women of Silicon Valley,

I'm a little tired of these descriptions. Yes, she's rich, rich is hot, hot and rich can afford to continue being hot and rich, and breed hot and rich, and she's so amazing and sexy and real, real like those ladies on tv.

I could compile a whole book of how female financial and tech execs are described, and they're describe as hot women who attend to their maternal duties and still get sexy, and it's all a schtick. Journalists are so lazy. It's always the same "Oh, look at this cute lady doing her ladystuff and baking cupcakes, and being fierce in the boardroom, all while appearing sexy."

About Jessica Bibliowicz of Citigroup:
On this dreary January day, Bibliowicz, 42, is dressed in a form-fitting hazelnut-colored leather skirt and jacket with a black turtleneck sweater. She playfully suggests it's her charm that attracts business partners Leather skirts are hot. Playful ladies are hot.

And Marissa Mayer of Google:

The woman charged with helping come up with Google's response is a tall, striking blonde with blue eyes. At 30, Mayer still carries herself with the erect posture of the ballet dancer she was in her youth. Because ballet dancers are hot.

(Though I read somewhere where she was doing some ridiculous thing with laying out cupcakes or something that seemed to hint of crazy rather than admirable or praiseworthy in Vogue, but of course the journalist used language to describe it as "endearing" so you wouldn't really think how nutty it was if she was your friend and you caught her doing something like that.)

I think I've read a million of descriptions like these, but I'm too bored to find all the others.

I don't know. Maybe it's true or maybe there is no other way to go about writing about a female executive superwoman. I don't know any superwomen either in real life and I feel like it's really outdated to keep describing them like that.
posted by anniecat at 11:04 AM on April 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


How can Deborah Tannen be taken at all seriously? She makes claims that are far beyond the purview of empirical research.
posted by phrontist at 11:06 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I didn't mean to derail, but that profile of Sheryl Sandberg got to me. I'm sick of her for someone purporting her as perfect. I'm not saying I want them to describe the sounds she makes on the toilet, but really, enough with the telling me how she's like a cartoon. Can she just say something without the journalist describing how effortlessly amazing she is in every aspect of her life? How about "women might be more social than men" instead of being all authoritative about it? No wait, of course...she has to build her brand while building FB's brand and her job gives her credibility, so she can leverage that and go get on boards and get other high paying jobs eventually.
posted by anniecat at 11:10 AM on April 28, 2010


An hour after work on a Thursday evening, she can, without a hitch, welcome 40 women into her home for dinner; just before the first guests arrive, she tucks her two pre-schoolers into bed, disappears for ten minutes, then emerges to answer the door in a sleeveless Calvin Klein dress and black Prada ankle boots. She calls these informal gatherings—a mix of venture capitalists, tech-company execs, moms, book-club friends, and her sister, Michelle—the Women of Silicon Valley,

I'm a little tired of these descriptions. Yes, she's rich, rich is hot, hot and rich can afford to continue being hot and rich, and breed hot and rich, and she's so amazing and sexy and real, real like those ladies on tv.


i don't see hot and rich here at all. it's just a description of someone who seems to be juggling roles and admiration that she seems to do so seamlessly. there's not particularly an implication of sexiness here, or in any of the other descriptions you cite, just the kinds of physical details that add color to the description and flesh out the story a bit. the 'ballet dancer' description implies a pose of self-confidence; the same kinds of profiles of men will refer to posture or athleticism, particularly as a kind of physical manifestation of personality, as well as to the kinds of clothes or even the labels they wear.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:19 AM on April 28, 2010


men play mafia wars
women play farmville

Not in my experience. The divide is "people who like to play games" and "people who don't want to hear about your farmfishmafia." They're about even, genderwise.


I agree completely. That comment was a piss poor attempt to ride on sonic meat machine’s coattails because I got to the thread and saw that sonic had made the same rip-off 30 Rock/generic hacky stand up joke I had wanted to make. I was riding a lunchtime carbohydrate high, which sometimes often leads to bad decisions.
posted by edbles at 11:21 AM on April 28, 2010


In my brief brush with Facebook I found that the women wanted to babble endlessly about their kids and grandkids, illnesses and trips taken or planned. The men were mostly interested in finding common ground, chatting briefly about same and then moving on (after determining whether they could actually gain something by interaction, i.e. access to old photographs of themselves). I found that interacting with the men was generally more interesting, if only because they didn't obsess so much about families and trips. Obviously this is more of a reflection on my own acquaintances than on all FB users, but I did see a trend.

Regardless of gender, I found Facebook to be like Hell's own cocktail party, where meaningful interaction is limited by typing ability, camera skills and superficiality.

I don't Facebook anymore.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:25 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


i don't see hot and rich here at all. it's just a description of someone who seems to be juggling roles and admiration that she seems to do so seamlessly.

This is interesting. I'm going to think about what you said. It didn't occur to me that they weren't trying to point out what an amazing superwoman she is (I figured they put in the Calvin Klein sleeveless and ankle boots to describe her as being able to dress sexy (though they may have omitted that they thought she was looking like an anemic sausage in those fashionable, expensive clothes).

Though they did say how she's pretty and petite right off the bat (though I think her picture shows that either something in the room smells bad to her or she's making what amounts to a botched sexyface:

In pictures, the 40-year-old Sandberg looks keen, pretty, petite; but snapshots don’t account for her energy face-to-face. Her oldest friends like to point out—and it’s about the meanest thing they’ll say—that as an undergrad back in the late eighties, when she wore leg warmers and blue eye shadow, she founded and ran the Harvard aerobics program almost singlehandedly. She’s quick and relentlessly upbeat, and she likes to toss her head when a subject changes

But I have to see how they described male CEOs who are clearly not attractive (would they use the word "grizzled" or "frazzled" in an endearing way or maybe they could go for a more positive way of putting a CEO's baldness, I wonder, "bald dome shining like a sunlamp"?) Obviously they're profiles that are supposed to be positive, but nevertheless, something for me to chew on.
posted by anniecat at 11:29 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


crackingdes: ""We're women--we like to talk about things"

Or we're extroverts

I dunno, just a thought

Backed up by decades of research
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:30 AM on April 28, 2010


What, anniecat, you still think truth's important? You're woefully behind the times.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:33 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think anniecat is on to something.
posted by naju at 11:33 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


oh hey didn't mean to make it look like you said that foolishness crackingdes
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:38 AM on April 28, 2010


What, anniecat, you still think truth's important? You're woefully behind the times.

I wish these profiles weren't such Mad-Libs.
posted by anniecat at 11:51 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am increasing my status.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:47 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


> 'cuse me, I'm gonna go hang out with the anti-social women in the back.

Hi, Whelk.
posted by Quietgal at 12:57 PM on April 28, 2010


I think you're just seeing the standard business-mag haigiography in female dress. The male ones seem to be either John Galt, for those without redemming social value or Rockafeller-like, for those that give the odd dollar to charity. Casting female execs as late 80's Superwomen, hard-asses who still have it going on while effortlessly raising cute little moppets, is just the male version in padded shoulders. It is sexist sure, because that stereotype conforms to patriarchal norms, but the real subtext is that She Is Better Than You Because She Has Lots Of Money.

The sexiness thing is just one of the ways she's So Much Better Than You, in your sweatpants and stained shirt.
posted by bonehead at 12:59 PM on April 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


(Note: I currently have at least two coffee stains on my shirt)
posted by bonehead at 1:05 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


In my brief brush with Facebook I found that the women wanted to babble endlessly about their kids and grandkids, illnesses and trips taken or planned. The men were mostly interested in finding common ground, chatting briefly about same and then moving on (after determining whether they could actually gain something by interaction, i.e. access to old photographs of themselves). I found that interacting with the men was generally more interesting, if only because they didn't obsess so much about families and trips. Obviously this is more of a reflection on my own acquaintances than on all FB users, but I did see a trend.

Regardless of gender, I found Facebook to be like Hell's own cocktail party, where meaningful interaction is limited by typing ability, camera skills and superficiality.

I don't Facebook anymore.


Well, I find that the men babble about their kids, significant others, illnesses, diets, and vacations absolutely equally as the women. So I'm pretty sure that this is indeed a reflection just on our circles of friends.

I have been pleasantly surprised at how natural interactions can be within comments on Facebook, even creating acquaintances between unconnected friends of mine.

I don't know how camera skills played into your Facebook experience, but we're mostly snapping pics of each other at gigs or posting a couple of pics of our houses/families/pets to share with far-flung friends.

I'm pretty sure it's what you make of it.
posted by desuetude at 1:17 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


anniecat, I'm having a hard time not seeing a lot of the same motives that you are in these profiles. It's all hyper-femininity.

"She likes to toss her head when the subject changes?" Really? I can't imagine a man being described like that. Even men who, uh, toss their head when the subject changes.
posted by desuetude at 1:21 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


kinnakeet: "In my brief brush with Facebook I found that the women wanted to babble endlessly about their kids and grandkids, illnesses and trips taken or planned. The men were mostly interested in finding common ground, chatting briefly about same and then moving on (after determining whether they could actually gain something by interaction, i.e. access to old photographs of themselves)."

Uh, I am pretty sure that women also find common ground and gain something from interaction when they are talking about their kids and grandkids
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:21 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I got to the third paragraph. Does this article ever get past gender biotruths? Or is it just bullshit through and through?
posted by codacorolla at 1:31 PM on April 28, 2010


Psychologist Leslie Sokol, author of self-help book Think Confident, Be Confident, believes virtual communication differences between men and women can be tracked back through history as evolutionary methods of survival. Throughout time, males have been in competition with each other, even in the animal kingdom, she says. "The sexiest bird with the brightest plumage and best territory got all the women." Because it was in their best interest not to show weaknesses or give away their strategies, men became more reserved as an adaptive method, she says.

Sokol believes that women, the gatherers and community builders, had to work as a team to survive. They needed to use each other as resources and adapted to be more supportive by sharing their plans, shortcomings and advice. Today, women are still more likely to be forthcoming and verbose than men, she says, a difference that is reflected online.


This is so stupid. No one should ever be allowed to talk about evolutionary methods of survival this ridiculously.

Females never compete? Males never cooperate? She has no idea what she is talking about.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:32 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think what you're seeing is amped-up language of women's magazines applied to a business profile. It's the same stuff Barbara Walters peddles; the subject is a Better Version of You. The particualr twist here is that the subject is also "tough", more than just traditionally empathetic. She has to be acessible, aspriational but ultimately powerful.

Is it sexist? Absolutely, because the baseline assumption is sexist and patronizing. Sucessful women have to be similar enough for the readers to imagine they could be the subject, while at the same time, the subject has to be Perfect. It's an aspirational fantasy, one for a very conventional gender role. She's really powerful, but also a Real Woman at the same time, and thus not threatening to social norms.
posted by bonehead at 1:42 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The sexiness thing is just one of the ways she's So Much Better Than You, in your sweatpants and stained shirt.

"She likes to toss her head when the subject changes?" Really? I can't imagine a man being described like that. Even men who, uh, toss their head when the subject changes.


I don't like the part about women being described as "relentlessly upbeat." They did that in Sheryl Sandberg's profile but that exact phrase was how Joe Wilson, in his memoir, said his son (Valerie Plame's stepson) described Valerie Plame. I know I'm supposed to think that she's awesome for being so cheerful and sunny and happy and so different from those of us who have variations in our emotional states, but it really makes her cartoonish. It is okay to want to scratch Karl Rove and Robert Novak's eyes out, Valerie, or consider writing/saying mean things about them on the interwebs. You don't have to immerse yourself in baking cupcakes and pretend like their ruining your career was a blessing in disguise because you got a book deal.
posted by anniecat at 1:44 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, maybe Joe Wilson's son described Valerie Plame as "relentlessly cheerful." God, I don't know what's worse. Not that I want to smoke cigarettes and hum funeral dirges all day, but let's all keep it together please.
posted by anniecat at 1:45 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


[YouTube] is about finding, consuming and passing along content, but it's not about conversation

Well, there are a subset of users for whom it is definitely conversation. I'm not talking about the comments, but the video bloggers who go back-and-forth. These are the ones who are always talking about the "YouTube community".

But music videos and cats are what most people seem to come for. :)
posted by wildcrdj at 2:05 PM on April 28, 2010


I really don't see any difference between what women and men talk about in my social networks. My two best female friends mostly talk about math and paleontology, and they both have kids.
posted by desjardins at 2:06 PM on April 28, 2010


But I have to see how they described male CEOs who are clearly not attractive

"Dumpy" and "wheezy" would get used a lot. If they were honest.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:35 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


An hour after work on a Thursday evening, she can, without a hitch, welcome 40 women into her home for dinner; just before the first guests arrive, she tucks her two pre-schoolers into bed, disappears for ten minutes, then emerges to answer the door in a sleeveless Calvin Klein dress and black Prada ankle boots.

Well, can't anyone with a cleaning lady, a caterer, and a nanny?
posted by dilettante at 4:05 PM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


What a steaming pile of ick. Also, ForbesWomen seems horribly sexist. "Women's Fashion: Taking Cues From Menswear." Okay!

I'll be in the back with The Whelk and Quietgirl talking about gaming, or something.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 4:23 PM on April 28, 2010


I agree completely. That comment was a piss poor attempt to ride on sonic meat machine’s coattails because I got to the thread and saw that sonic had made the same rip-off 30 Rock/generic hacky stand up joke I had wanted to make. I was riding a lunchtime carbohydrate high, which sometimes often leads to bad decisions.

I am deeply offended. My first comment was not a joke; it was a deep and nuanced critique of a flaw in the author's argument, expressed through a classical rhetorical method. Your understanding is unsubtle and without merit.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:56 AM on April 29, 2010


sonic meat machine: My sincerest and humblest apologies. Clearly I am a classic example of the paradox of incompetence, I’m so bad at rhetoric that not only wasn’t able to see the deep and nuanced point you were making, I wasn't even aware that I was unable to see it.
posted by edbles at 10:31 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I already feel like a sucker for responding to this seriously, but there is a wealth of actual empirical research on gender, culture and online social networks, not even an ironic hint of which can be found in that article.

Here's some stuff that adds a layer or two of complexity to the issue (it's mostly focused on blogs, but applies to gender and culture in social networks; and since the authors of the crap FPP article feel like extrapolating Facebook into 'the entirety of the internet' I'm going to do the same here, but now with science!):

Herring & Paolillo, who've done a considerable amount of published work on these topics, asked the question, “Are observable variations in language use in weblogs due to author gender, or blog genre (or both, and if so, in what proportions, under what conditions)?” They found that gender associations - and their societal ascriptions - are reproduced by authors in weblogs, and are done so in line with the genre style of the weblog, regardless of the author’s actual gender. (PDF) They make a distinction between two styles, or sub-genres, of blogging, the diary blog and the filter blog (Herring, et al. 2004), based on earlier taxonomies for categorizing blog types (Blood, 2002; Krishnamurthy, 2002). The diary blog consists of a blogging style and entries that are centered around the blog author; the filter blog is centered around things other than the author’s personal life (although may be of personal interest to the author), such as hobbies, the dissemination of information, or the reporting of events involving other people.

Even though filter blogs are more often written by men and diary blogs by women, these studies show that while the genres and topics are gendered, the language used in these different blog types is not. This last finding differs from what Argamon et al. found in their earlier study, but can be explained by the way they classified their data. In their study, blog content was not divided by genre (filter or diary), but in terms of informativity (‘male-gendered’) and interactivity (‘female-gendered’). Herring et al. point out that these characteristics are also ascribed to blog genres, and is one of the features that characterizes a filter blog (informative) versus a diary blog (interactive). Therefore, the results of both studies are aligned, but it is hard to determine causality. Herring & Paolillo suggest, however, that it is the genre’s requirements (filter or diary), and not the author’s gender, that is driving why men and women use similar language in a blog genre. Because of this, it is more apt to discuss stylistic variables of weblogs as ‘genre-features’ rather than ‘gender-features’.

But I think it really comes down to this: "Are weblogs inherently “democratizing,” in the sense of giving voice to diverse populations of users? The empirical findings reported for gender and age at the beginning of this essay suggest that they are. Yet public commentators on weblogs, including many bloggers themselves, collude in reproducing gender and age-based hierarchy in the blogosphere, demonstrating once again that even an open access technology—and high hopes for its use—cannot guarantee socially equitable outcomes in a society that continues to embrace hierarchical values."

Also, there's lovely little gems in both the Herring, et al. 2004 articles. If anybody on earth can locate the Krishnamurthy article, that would be lovely...I've been hunting it down for weeks now and no luck.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:31 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


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