Every age has taboos, just like it has ideals. These are the stick and the carrot, respectively. If you want to succeed, find some way to justify what you’re doing in terms of the ideals; if you want to knock out some competition, bully them and accuse them of being the taboo.
One of the big ones for this age, like calling someone a pedophile, is the term racist, which has dangerous political implications. And no matter what we do, the problem never seems to go away, and may not go away until we’re all a uniform grey color and have no ancestry line to speak of.
Abandon your MySpace account for Facebook? You might just be a racist.
At a keynote speech during New Yorkâ€™s Democracy forum at Lincoln Center, Danah Boyd spoke of the racial disparity and possible reasons for mass abandonment of MySpace for the â€œmore culturedâ€ and â€œless cheesyâ€ social networking site Facebook.
Boyd, a social media researcher for Microsoft and fellow of the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society, stated: â€œWe might as well face an uncomfortable reality â€¦ what happened was modern day â€˜white flightâ€™.â€
Referring to MySpace as the â€œghetto of the digital landscape,â€ Boyd indicated that MySpace users are more likely to be â€œbrown or blackâ€ and espouse a different set of ideals in conflict with those espoused by the teens she surveyed over four years. She said that patterns in migration across social networking sites echoed those of a white exodus from cities in the past. Boyd also said that teens who use Facebook are more likely to condescend their MySpace-favoring peers.
And then, other language problems blunder into the sensitivity zone of Westerners:
Russian Energy giant Gazprom has inadvertently walked into a racism row with the announcement of its joint venture in Nigeria – Nigaz.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Nigerian counterpart Umaru Yar’Adua last week agreed the deal to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Africa’s most populous nation.
The name is meant to be an amalgamation of ‘Nigeria’ and ‘Gazprom’, pronounced ‘nye-gaz’, but it can be read phonetically as an offensive term for those of black African origin.
It’s like a witch hunt: it’s such a flexible accusation that, should you not be surrounded by minorities, you can be at any time accused of being a witch and have a massive public problem. Since most people want to stay out of the public eye — they know the public is equal parts a weeping sap and a lynch mob — this creates a terrifying state where one either pro-actively defends against the possible accusation at great cost, or just hopes the lottery doesn’t pick your number one day.
Final word from a sensible Nigerian:
One Nigerian in Lagos said: ‘White people are making too much of this.
‘As long as the Russians pay us, they can call it what they like.’