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Stuff White People Like meme

There is this blog called Stuff White People Like, which some people find funny. The big idea of generalizing the preferences of white folk is as sensible as predicting British weather – any arbitrary guess has a chance of being 50% correct. I am pretty sure that a Harward-educated WASP and a Yeshiva-educated Jew have as much – or, rather, little – in common with one another as they have with every other race and ethnicity in the country. But, hey, whatever makes it worthwhile for people to express themselves online!…

Several days ago, when the count of items on that blog was at 82, some other people with plenty of time on their hands decided to make a meme out of the list. My usual source of things of this kind, Jason, has produced his own take on how well he fits into the definition of the “white person” according to the list. I looked at his result (24 out of 82) and was so convinced that I could beat it – as in “proving that the list ludicrously overgeneralizes” – that I could not stay away from following suit, providing in the process some additional insight into the complex persona that is yours truly.

Highlighted entries are the ones that I am enthusiastic about. Here goes.

#01 Coffee — I always say that coffee is an acquired taste, and you can easily lose what you have acquired in the past. It’s #13 for me.

#02 Religions their parents don’t belong to — I’ve heard of people who “choose” their religion. I am equally non-enthusiastic about all religious credos.

#03 Film Festivals — Not sure that I’d like it even if I had a chance to attend one. I am equally put off by the pompousness and the crowds, both of which are requisite attributes of a film festival, the way I see it.

#04 Assists — The couple of people whose takes on this meme I have read, posited that they don’t care about sports, period. I think they missed the point a bit. This item is about “white men can’t jump” theme, i.e., white players can only be good at passing the basketball, therefore, by extension, white folk have a preference for assists as opposed to scoring baskets… Projecting this onto a game that I actually used to be pretty good at, soccer, I’ve always been happy to pass to an open player, but I got the most satisfaction out of scoring. So, no.

#05 Farmer’s Markets — Half a point. I am aware of the fact that buying groceries at a farmer’s market is often cheaper than buying the same stuff at a supermarket or a grocery store. That’s enough of a reason to visit one, in my wife’s book. Does that mean that we like them?

#06 Organic Food — I am completely neutral about it. It’s more expensive, it’s not as widely available as non-organic food, and I am not sure that the benefits are actually there…

#07 Diversity — I like learning about different cultures. I have rudimentary skills in several European languages. I have successfully worked with, or managed, people of different races and backgrounds. Does that mean that I like diversity? Let’s put it this way: I consider senior management targets for diversity levels contradictory to the concept of rewarding the best talent around…

#08 Barack Obama — Not a fan. Too liberal, too populist, too messianic for me.

#09 Making you feel bad about not going outside — If telling my daughters that they spent too much time in front of computers or television counts. But then, I would not interrupt them when they are reading…

#10 Wes Anderson Movies — Haven’t seen a single one.

#11 Asian Girls — Half a point. As I full-blooded straight male, I love all girls. Then again, I am happily married and have been for my entire adult existence. When I come across a nice picture of an Asian girl, I am certainly not repulsed, but I can’t say that I have a specific preference.

#12 Non-Profit Organizations — No feelings either way.

#13 Tea — Hooray, the first full point! I love tea! But emphasizing the silliness of this list, I don’t know anyone who is enthusiastic about both tea and coffee (which was item #1)…

#14 Having Black Friends — I like having friends, period. And I have many. But I neither specifically seek nor actually have any real friends who do not share a common background with me.

#15 Yoga — Nope.

#16 Gifted Children — Having grown up as an ethnic minority myself, being the best student in class – or simply the best at anything – was quite a necessity for getting ahead. A gifted child certainly has an advantage in this light. I can’t help but appreciate that.

#17 Hating their Parents — Getting a bit stupid here. Is hating one’s parents ever a general trait of any social group? For the record, I love my parents, despite having occasional disagreements with them (which is perfectly normal and healthy, IMHO).

#18 Awareness — On balance, I like to be aware of things. Helps in projecting an I-only-argue-about-things-that-I-actually-know persona.

#19 Traveling — Unqualified Yep.

#20 Being an expert on YOUR culture — See #18. I will have a strong opinion on anything that I believe I am well aware of. That does not translate for me into even pretending of being an expert on anybody’s culture, let alone liking it.

#21 Writers Workshops — At this point in my life, I have little doubt about my skills – or lack thereof – in penmanship; such a workshop would be a huge waste of time and money for me.

#22 Having Two Last Names — I am ok with the concept, whether it is hereditary (I see it a lot here in Britain) or matrimonial (although, simply keeping the maiden name is just as good, in my book). No strong feelings, though.

#23 Microbreweries — Been to one or two, but would never go out of my way for it.

#24 Wine — Love wine and “tasting the bottle” is probably the only pompously pretentious thing that is part of my repertoire.

#25 David Sedaris — Never knew who it was. Doing better with #18 now, thanks to Wikipedia.

#26 Manhattan (now Brooklyn too!) — I have worked there for so long, that I actually hate the place. Objectively speaking, though, it is one of the undisputed cultural capitals of the world, and I would certainly recommend it as a destination to anybody. Not so much Brooklyn, though. (Still count as a full point).

#27 Marathons — I know a few people who run them, but I frankly cannot see the point.

#28 Not having a TV — Puh-leeze! Who besides Amish, Hasidic Jews and assorted recluses would be happy about not having a TV!

#29 80s Night — Spent the eighties in an alternative universe, for all senses and purposes. No strong feelings.

#30 Wrigley Field — Half a point. Any baseball fan would appreciate iconic ballparks, I think, of which Wrigley is one. Having never been there in person, I cannot take full credit.

#31 Snowboarding — Any winter sport qualifies for this list solely because it is traditionally a “northern” activity. Still, I would think that skiing would be more appropriate. As I said in the past, I am not a fan of skiing. Snowboarding is even lower on my scale.

#32 Vegan/Vegetarianism — I’m a card-carrying meat-lover, thank you very much. I respect those who don’t eat meat – and pity them.

#33 Marijuana — Really?

#34 Architecture — My most fulfilling travels are to the places where I can appreciate architectural masterpieces.

#35 The Daily Show/Colbert Report — Don’t watch either.

#36 Breakfast Places — I don’t go out for breakfast as much I’d like, but I love the concept.

#37 Renovations — The only thing that I like about renovations is them being over, so that I can appreciate the spoils. We’ve done our share of renovations over the years, but they always stemmed from dissatisfaction with the existing environment, not because we felt the urge to do something with our house.

#38 Arrested Development — Not a single episode.

#39 Netflix — Natasha and Becky use Blockbuster Online here in England, and we were not using anything in the States. I guess I’ll give it half a point as a concept, although I don’t exactly use it myself.

#40 Apple Products — I have an iPod – and then, I have not been actually using it for ages. Being well-versed in computer technology, I never could understand the Macs-are-better-than-PCs religion…

#41 Indie Music — I don’t exactly know what the term means. Music authored by people not affiliated with any production labels?

#42 Sushi — Yes, definitely.

#43 Plays –I’ve been a member of a theatrical troupe as a student and participated in my share of plays, but I am lukewarm to the experience. Musicals are a different thing…

#44 Public Radio — Only if listening to FM music stations counts. Even that happens very rarely, what, with a 6-CD changer in every car.

#45 Asian Fusion Food — Not at all unlike #11, I haven’t met a cuisine – with an important quality addressed in rejecting #32 – that I did not like. I’ve actually been to a number of places which I would describe as Asian Fusion, most recently in Reims.

#46 The Sunday New York Times — Internet is king. I read some magazines, but no newspapers.

#47 Arts Degrees — Do you know that I am actually a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Sciences? It’s true!

#48 Whole Foods and Grocery Co-ops — I don’t know what those are.

#49 Vintage — Going back to #34, I particularly admire old architecture, which remotely fits this item. But I am not into antiques, or even collecting expensive #24s, so, on balance, no.

#50 Irony — I have to admit that I am confused about this one. I occasionally come across passages where people rail against irony – as opposed to straight-shooting, I guess. To me, however, irony is a natural instrument for bringing some levity – and even light-heartedness – into any discourse…

#51 Living by the Water — I don’t but I would love to.

#52 Sarah Silverman — No recognition of the name, until looking up a Wiki entry. No recognition afterwards, either.

#53 Dogs — Another one of traits that cannot be ascribed to any social group this side of Korea. I personally dislike all pets.

#54 Kitchen Gadgets — Just two days ago, I admired a lot of these at the Fortnum & Mason department store on Piccadilly. I am, however, not a cook, and whatever little barbecuing I do, it’s all by feel. Natasha, of course, have a stronger appreciation for cookery stuff. Seeing as she is my better half, this item gets half a point.

#55 Apologies — I don’t actually like them (especially receiving them with the what’s-done-is-done connotation), but I was brought up to be polite, and I cannot help but constantly apologize for bumping someone on a packed train, for giving a slacker a piece of my mind, for expressing an unpopular point of view (as in I am sorry to say this, but…).

#56 Lawyers — Beyond some affinity for legal TV shows, I can’t say that I like lawyers. I don’t think I admire any profession as a whole, except, maybe, firefighters.

#57 Juno — Everyone says it’s a good movie (Natasha and Becky, as well), but I have not watched it yet. Possibly, a future point.

#58 Japan — I have an average-level fascination with Far East, and Japan is certainly somewhere on my list of places to explore. Just not in the nearest future.

#59 Natural Medicine — I don’t disagree that there is some value in treating ailments the ancient way, but I can’t see myself going to a “healer”. Don’t use natural supplements either.

#60 Toyota Prius — I have to repeat my damning admission: I respect the idea of saving the environment, I am just too disinclined to forgo my comforts – in this case, a spacious interior and enough horsepower for comfortable cruising – to truly do something about it.

#61 Bicycles — I ride one maybe once a year on average, but it’s a joy!

#62 Knowing What’s Best for Poor People — I don’t always know what’s best for me, let alone the poor…

#63 Expensive Sandwiches — Homemade sandwiches are dollar-for-dollar the cheapest ones around. And those are the only ones that I can say I like. So, no.

#64 Recycling — See #60. I am ambivalent as to whether recycling actually makes a discernible difference, but I go with the flow.

#65 Co-Ed Sports — What is a co-ed sport, anyway? Mixed-doubles in tennis?

#66 Divorce — As I say quite often, I have been happily married for almost half of my life…

#67 Standing Still at Concerts — I rarely go to concerts, and I don’t think I’ve been to a standing one ever. People who exuberantly jump out of their seats never fail to annoy me, but I suppose I’d be moving at least a little bit if I were in a standing-room-only crowd.

#68 Michel Gondry — Who? Wiki to the rescue again.

#69 Mos Def — I know who he is, if that counts. But no.

#70 Difficult Breakups — Huh? White people go around looking for opportunities to break up painfully?

#71 Being the only white person around — My brief experiences with this were not entirely comfortable.

#72 Study Abroad — Love the idea, never had the chance. Hopefully, Becky will. Oh, wait, aren’t she and her sister technically studying abroad now?

#73 Gentrification — No strong opinion either way.

#74 Oscar Parties — Once I am invited to one, I’ll let you know how I liked it.

#75 Threatening to Move to Canada — Must be an American thing that escapes a naturalized citizen…

#76 Bottles of Water — I have to err on the side of using it a lot means liking it, even though I would never actually state that I like bottled water.

#77 Musical Comedy — Indeed.

#78 Multilingual Children — Without a doubt! My kids are lucky to naturally know two very different languages, and seeing Becky study three more in school – and expressing a desire to learn another one – makes me rather proud.

#79 Modern Furniture — Modern “conceptual” stuff is frequently weird and uncomfortable, but if I were to choose between equally comfortable modern and “vintage” furniture pieces, I am likely to go with modern. Half a point.

#80 The Idea of Soccer — Not sure why I am supposed to like the idea of it. I like the sport, period. (And, as you all well know, it’s football everywhere in the world except the good ol’ U.S. of A.) It requires constant movement from the players, it puts skill to a premium yet does not marginalize less skillful team members at the expense of the superstar, it makes every goal count big time… And it’s really fun to play! (Before any of my American-born and -bred readers start howling in defense of baseball or American football, let me assume the higher ground by stating that I appreciate those two as well, for different reasons; hockey, too; not basketball, though).

#81 Graduate School — Meh. Didn’t go to one, and haven’t really felt like I need to. Which makes my Mom unhappy. I could go one day…

#82 Hating Corporations — I’ve been investing in the stock market too long to pretend that I have the right to pass judgment on the denizens of corporate world. Hey, I think I am one of them, anyway.

Whew, this took me over three hours.

And the result? The aborted finish spurt has given me 19 full yeses and 6 halves. Point proven: The list is entirely arbitrary. Either that, or my non-white soul is trapped in a horrible white body…


  1. jason

    Ilya, just a few (hopefully) helpful notes in regard to specific items you said you didn’t know about:

    #21 Writers Workshops — I think this term refers to “creative writing workshops” wherein one hopes to become better at expressing themselves, rather than anything to do with penmanship. As I said in my version of this meme, I’ve attended a few of these workshops. Basically, you exchange your work with your peers in the class and critique one another. While this may be helpful for some, I never got much out of the process.

    #48 Whole Foods and Grocery Co-ops — A grocery co-op (as I understand it) is a food store owned by its customers. A person becomes a member of the cooperative and then has some voice in business decisions and (depending on the arrangement) may receive dividends based on how much you spend at the store in a year or other conditions. Grocery co-ops tend to be associated with organic and locally produced foods; they have a reputation of being “hippie stores,” if that makes sense. Whole Foods is a national chain grocer built on this concept.

  2. jason

    And a couple more:

    #50 Irony — I think “irony” in this context refers not to the literary meaning of the word, but to a particular attitude that settled into popular entertainment (especially comedy) in the mid-90s. It is a sort of self-conscious cynicism expressed through sarcasm, disdain for any kind of sentimentality, an inability (or unwillingness) to take anything seriously, and a hipster smugness. It’s difficult to define, you just sort of know it when you see it.

    #75 Threatening to Move to Canada — Threatening to move to Canada is bascially a toothless political protest. People always say “oh, geez, if X is elected or Y is enacted, I’m going to move to Canada.” In other words, the event being protested is going to be such a disaster that the only course of action is to just abandon the country and go elsewhere. Of course, no one ever actually does it — it’s simply a show of disgust. I think the idea probably originates with the actual Vietnam War protesters who left the country back in the 1960s…

  3. Ilya

    For #21, I guess I did not express myself well enough 🙁 I feel secure enough in admitting that I do not have any talent as far as storytelling goes. Well, ok, maybe I can passably re-count real events and assert my opinions, but when it comes to being “creative”, I am too impatient in my haste to get to the decisive point to even suppose that I could make it as a writer. Having known this for years did not make me any better at this. So, would I benefit any from hearing it from other people (whose work I will likely trash myself)? Unlikely.

    #48 is one of those things that I’ve seen time and again (especially, in Europe) without giving it a second thought. Another notch on my awareness (#18) ladder. Thanks for that.

    Irony trips me time and again; this time is no exception. Non-native speaker’s handicap, you know. I’ve heard – without really reading them – of many opuses denouncing apparently the particular attitude that you describe, but I could never figure out why those people were against the notion of inflecting your speech to convey the opposite meaning, which for me always works as a way of not stating the obvious – not patronizing my partner in conversation, if you will, – while mixing some levity in… Even more aware now. Minus a point from the total, I guess.

    And, I am well familiar with #75. Didn’t express myself well again (see what I mean for #21?) I meant to say that this is not something that comes to mind of a non-native.

    Thanks for having the patience to read it all, Jason, and for trying to help. I appreciate that a lot! (no irony here) 🙂

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