A gentle reminder about the intersection of class and culture January 7, 2020 9:05 AM   Subscribe

I grew up in a working class area. I saw first hand the extent to which people from different backgrounds (including my own immediate family) can be unintentionally dismissive and hurtful about things that are fairly central to some working class folks' culture and identity. I'd like to talk about that a little bit so we can avoid replicating that dynamic quite as much on Metafilter.

For example - many of the working class families whose kids I went to school with had a very conservative attitude to food. If they went out to eat, they'd go to a pub or a chain restaurant with the same conservative menu, featuring the same standard local dishes, expanded slightly to include the cuisine of any ethnic minorities who've been present in large enough numbers for 50 years or more.
It's really noticeable that middle class folks often see food variety as aspirational and will dunk hard on anyone who isn't comfortable eating a more cosmopolitan range of dishes, or whose diet doesn't meet middle class standards of healthiness, or who feed their kids chicken nuggets.
The metafilter post that reminded me of this

Also for example - my friends' families were often precarious in their income, and when they did receive some kind of windfall or improve their financial situation, their financial choices were often quite different to those that middle class people would make. It's hard to describe just how vicious the commentary on that can feel, coming from people who want to dunk on New Money, declaim that people's taste is trashy, call people "chavs" and "rednecks", and moralise about people spending money on nice things when their underlying financial situation may still seem precarious by other folks' standards. Criticising people who spend a lot of money on their children at Christmas seems to be a popular pastime - I have friends who spend like this on their kids, and it's really really important to these friends that they are supplying their own children with a more privileged upbringing than the poor and precarious childhood they had themselves.
Here's the Metafilter post that pinged a lot of those feelings in me and made me sad for some of the people I grew up with and their "trashy" taste.

I would love it if folks would remember that working class people are also human beings with feelings, and that being familiar with hummus or liking restrained decor is just one way to experience the world.
posted by quacks like a duck to Etiquette/Policy at 9:05 AM (154 comments total) 106 users marked this as a favorite

> being familiar with hummus or liking restrained decor is just one way to experience the world

I love how you put this.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:35 AM on January 7 [55 favorites]


Thank you for posting this, as I often feel this way on the blue and the green.
posted by jgirl at 9:59 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


I missed that post and oof. I've only tried 33/54, and that's with a lot of "I think, maybe once, but I'm not sure?" Only 24 have I definitely eaten. I grew up working class and the most adventurous we ever got was sushi. When I went to college I only had access to the dining halls, which were even less adventurous. Now out on my own I don't really have the money or energy to branch beyond the things I know I like. Especially because I have both a chronic illness that can be triggered by certain foods, and a ton of sensory processing issues. If I buy a food I've never tried before and it hits one of those, I've wasted my money and now I'm hungry. Plus, it takes mental energy to branch out, and most days I'm lucky if I have the brain to make frying an egg happen. I have gotten the opportunity to try a few things like Thai and Ethiopian (when I have a little extra cash, or my generous in-laws take us out to eat), and it's not like I don't enjoy the experience of trying something new--I just can't really afford to, most of the time.

So yeah, thanks for posting this, quacks like a duck. Really tired of people assigning a moral value to the foods people eat, in general. The broader reminder of the experiences of working class people is good too, particularly the "new money" bit. The whole minimalism and anti-consumerism movement super stings for people who grew up poor and now have a little bit of money: "Now that I can actually enjoy some of these luxuries that you've had forever, you're telling me I'm bad and wrong for indulging in them?" Every time I see a post about how one should walk everywhere, I think about my partner saying, "I walked to school in the snow for years as a kid. Of course I could do it now too. But if I can afford not to, why the fuck would I?"
posted by brook horse at 10:05 AM on January 7 [14 favorites]


I would like to make a slight, gentle point as well.

The working class often does include people of non-majority ethnicities; being unfamiliar with pub fare and draught lists isn't the only way for those growing up working class to experience the world.
posted by anem0ne at 10:42 AM on January 7 [115 favorites]


Thank you anem0ne.
posted by primalux at 10:46 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


In short, kimchi isn't exotic or cosmopolitan to me, but meat loaf or chili mac are. That list is some weird kind of thing.

I think the more important thing is to not be a dick to people who might not have had the opportunity to try things. The opportunities to try new foods is directly a function of access, and willingness a function of someone's boundaries, and should never be used as a moral barometer of a person.
posted by anem0ne at 10:46 AM on January 7 [64 favorites]


OMG yes. I'm a supertaster, surrounded by bleeding liberal foodies, and am grateful for this post. W.S. Gilbert put it best in wanting to get rid of this person, among others:

"Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone
All centuries but this, and every country but his own;..."

And sports, too: people use the term "sportsball" to denote the fact that they're above sports.

And while I'm here, let's get rid of "gay space communism." I was very hurt by a gay person who used me as a beard; communism murdered millions of people; and I guess space is kind of cold.

I don't mind if there's a thread devoted to, say, articles about how the author hates sports; we all like to have our enclosed spaces, and I'm happy to ignore those threads. But yeah, let's all be a little more sensitive.
posted by Melismata at 10:49 AM on January 7 [6 favorites]


This something I've been thinking about a lot offline recently. I grew up in a single-parent family in the Rust Belt, and while we were better off than a lot of my classmates, that's the atmosphere I grew up in and what I consider "normal". About two and a half years ago, we moved to be closer to my wife's family, who are pretty affluent - her dad was an orthopedic surgeon, her brother founded a tech startup, etc. It's been hard. Before the move, a lot of my friends were from similar backgrounds, even though we mostly met in college or in our 20s - single parents, first in family to attend college, stuff like that - so even though I was upwardly mobile I never really felt out of place. Here, though, I don't have any friends, so we spend a lot of our time with her family, and it's a shock. I drink a lot of pop and like to watch football, and you would think my wife married a felon or something. So much direct and indirect criticism. It's funny to me, because she has a lot of alcoholism in her family, and I don't drink at all, but I think it'd be easier for them to handle me drinking beer instead of pop.

The other reason this has been on my mind is because we have a Slack channel at work for cooking, and everybody posts "clean", Instagram-worthy pictures of their quinoa and kale or whatever. I've been on a big Southern food kick recently, so I've been posting things like pickle-brined fried chicken, pulled pork, and biscuits and gravy, and it just falls flat. It's like cooking people have decided that doesn't really count as cooking.

One of the most validating experiences I've had recently was during a work trip to Oklahoma. I liked the people I was working with already, but when I came into the conference room, one of them had a 32oz cup of Dr Pepper, and I'm just like "OK, these are my people". We spent the day talking about fast food and football, maybe more than we talked about work, even. It felt really good to get out of that judgy upper-middle-class bubble and spend some time with people I could relate to.

I always say, nothing increases support for socialism like spending time around people who have money.

Thanks for posting this.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:51 AM on January 7 [59 favorites]


Growing up as an ethnic minority in the working class (and not just "with" members of the working class), I would also like to gently point out that what may appear cosmopolitan to others is often just regular food for plenty of working class people that you can pick up at the local "ethnic" market. It's somewhat bizarre to see descriptions of "the working class" written in such a sympathetic but oddly othering manner - though I do appreciate that the overall motivation is coming from a considerate place, and I generally also agree that classist assumptions can be a blind spot for people on MetaFilter and is an area where many of us can stand to improve.

P.S. Pineapple cottage cheese continues to remain a more foreign concept to me than, say, sushi or scallops. :)
posted by rather be jorting at 11:49 AM on January 7 [59 favorites]


let's get rid of "gay space communism." I was very hurt by a gay person who used me as a beard; communism murdered millions of people; and I guess space is kind of cold.

This is a really different thing. Having your feelings hurt by an individual is a bad reason to not want to acknowledge / engage with a big group of people who mostly don't behave that way. Also, gay space communist utopias are not a thing that currently exist, vs. middle class folks who are judgy about class-based things, who very much do exist. I feel like you're kinda missing the point, focusing on wanting mild-tasting food and not being judged for liking sports vs. the class aspect that framed this thread.

I promise I won't make you be gay and move to the collectivist spaceships if you don't wanna, and I won't mock your non-gay Earth-dwelling. But having that fantasy option helps me get through the day sometimes, as I imagine caring about sports does for you.
posted by momus_window at 11:51 AM on January 7 [87 favorites]


Respectfully, Melismata, I think your comment is a derail. Classism on Metafilter is a problem, and it ties into structural power differentials that hurt people in more ways than having different interests. To try and combine it with "I like sports and I don't like when people insult that" is a way of diminishing its impact.

And also it's pretty homophobic to say "I had a bad experience with a gay person so we shouldn't talk positively about gay utopias."
posted by arabidopsis at 11:55 AM on January 7 [74 favorites]


Sorry, could someone explain the "gay space communism" thing? I Googled, and after reading a few sites, I'm afraid I still don't understand what it is and why it's objectionable. (Also our firewalls at work are pretty crazy, so a lot of the sites that seem to explain it are blocked.)
posted by holborne at 12:01 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Thanks anem0ne and rather be jorting for bringing a wider perspective to this than my own (itself very provincial) background, I hope other folks feel comfortable chiming in who think that the topic is relevant but that my examples don't speak to their experience at all.
posted by quacks like a duck at 12:02 PM on January 7 [15 favorites]


Melismata, that's either overtly offensive (don't mention gay people because you once knew a gay person who was a jerk?), or if it's a joke it's not landing as intended.

Let's stick to the point of the post, which is specifically about being more careful to avoid classism because actual Mefites find it alienating. It's not about fictitious/joke complaints, and it's crappy to treat it that way.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:03 PM on January 7 [27 favorites]


holborne, the phrase "gay space communism" is a hyperbolic self-deprecating joke that people sometimes use talking about their own lefty convictions - saying that they want a utopia, basically. But that's not the point of the post here, and I'd ask that we not get derailed onto it further.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:05 PM on January 7 [15 favorites]


I think that over a number of years, norms on the site have been changing (in a good way) towards not treating food outside of an assumed/dominant culture as "weird" or "gross". However: I think it can happen sometimes, and not on purpose, that the way people express this can sound less like "food from all these cultures is normal food" and more like "if you aren't familiar with food from all these cultures, there's something wrong with you".

I've eaten nearly everything referenced in the food thread that was originally mentioned, and likely have a very wide range of stuff I both eat and cook with compared to the average person, but I can totally see how that thread reads as the latter ("if you don't know this stuff there's something wrong with you").
posted by tocts at 12:05 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


In short, kimchi isn't exotic or cosmopolitan to me, but meat loaf or chili mac are.

P.S. Pineapple cottage cheese continues to remain a more foreign concept to me than, say, sushi or scallops. :)


Yes, this is another problem I had with the thread--people expressing disbelief that cottage cheese or cream cheese or whatever were on the list as if there aren't people for whom that might not be common. It has nothing to do with the specific foods you eat, but the number of different things you have tried and how far they are from what you grew up with and what is common around you. Sushi was "adventurous" for my family not because it's exotic but because we didn't typically eat it and had to go out of our common routines to get it. Thai and Ethiopian are that way for me, but for others they might be the common, non-adventurous option, while things I typically eat may be new and adventurous to them.
posted by brook horse at 12:25 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Sorry to add to any derail.

I hadn't really considered the class aspects of this, and I thank quacks like a duck for pointing them out. I generally hate when people treat food as an indicator of a person's value, so I should have done better with this one.
posted by holborne at 12:36 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I grew up eating Hamburger Helper we couldn't really afford and was in the first generation of my family to go to college (two of us went to Ivies, somehow), so I can tell you all about class and culture. I can tell you the exact moment I realized I didn't belong at college (it was the day after I arrived, and the feeling never really abated).

I've become a bougie snob in a lot of ways, but it always sticks in my craw (and, honestly, hurts a little), when people express disdain for or disgust at the trappings of the working class. You'll drink the PBR and wear the flannel but god forbid you treat your kid to a Happy Meal or can't ski or don't know what the fuck to do with an artichoke.

I'm not always comfortable with my relationship with class and culture, to be honest, but seeing the prejudices of otherwise-well-meaning middle-class people laid bare in a space that should feel safe stings. So: thanks.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:58 PM on January 7 [33 favorites]


Food hits so many aspects of life, you can probably find something to complain about in anyone else's diet, so it is really pointless to judge another person's choices, and doubly so their experience so far. Like XKCD says, if you haven't tried something yet, you are just one of the lucky people who gets to try it today for the first time.

I think of this comment often and it seems relevant:
"What frustrates me ... is that food is rapidly becoming the moral social issue for the twenty first century. In the twentieth century it was sex. Now most people don't care all that much. But eating at McDonald's? By choice? Unironically? More than once a year? May as well accuse someone of having "loose morals"."
posted by valkyryn at 11:16 AM on October 7, 2011
posted by soelo at 1:12 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


As another person who grew up working-class, I also bristle at assumptions about how people who are working-class, low-income, or poor are expected to behave ("they don't have time for..." "they'd never..." "they aren't interested in..." "they're too busy to..."). Though yes, it's true, that structural classism and racism constrain educational opportunities, at the same time, a great many poor and working-class people are literate, even very well educated, sometimes formally, sometimes informally.

Assuming that being poor or low-income means you don't have time to read, or don't care about and can't be expected to engage with sophisticated topics, is straight up classism, and yet we see it a lot here from people who I think are well-intended and are attempting to speak up against structural obstacles. So, the intent is appreciated, and the obstacles are real - but until you spend some serious time in working-class, low-income or poor communities, you are probably walking around with some unfounded assumptions about levels of knowledge, experience, and intellectual skills that are readily found among those populations.

Before you assume that of course poor people can't be expected to know | read | cook | parent | care | create | be involved | take action | understand | be interested | make | do | or want [whatever], pause for a moment and reflect that there is no single story about people on the low end of the income spectrum. And that despite external markers, and structural obstacles, intellect and ability are pretty evenly distributed throughout the population, and that poor people are individuals, too.

tl;dr - talk about the obstacles, don't make assumptions about the people. Unless you're making assertions about a specific population you know pretty intimately and can speak to specifics, chances are you're on thin ground.
posted by Miko at 1:16 PM on January 7 [65 favorites]


If they went out to eat, they'd go to a pub or a chain restaurant with the same conservative menu

When eating out is a relatively rare treat that represents a financial sacrifice of something else important, you don't take any chances that you won't enjoy it - whatever it is you enjoy.
posted by Miko at 1:18 PM on January 7 [51 favorites]


[Couple deleted; no really this isn't about random musings adjacent to the phrase "gay space communism" -- please comment if you have things to say about the actual topic of the thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:34 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


If they went out to eat, they'd go to a pub or a chain restaurant with the same conservative menu

When eating out is a relatively rare treat that represents a financial sacrifice of something else important, you don't take any chances that you won't enjoy it - whatever it is you enjoy.


Oh, this. Also, if you're eating out with "food sophisticated" people, you don't want to be judged for not enjoying what you ordered! Far better to play close to your chest and go with the safe option.

Reading through the comments here and reflecting upon my own limited palate (food-related anxiety is a trip 0/10 do not recommend), I wonder if "consuming food" is a category of discussion akin to "an individual person's body" -- not really up for comment unless it's your own. Also, the perspective here has shed some light on my family's tastes and why they might be the way they are... opening the way for some new compassion, a blessing. Thank you all for sharing here.

In short, kimchi isn't exotic or cosmopolitan to me, but meat loaf or chili mac are.

Chili mac is (in this snake person's view) an objectively perfect food. I hope you get to try it someday!
posted by snerson at 1:51 PM on January 7 [10 favorites]


Grumpybearbride and I are from very different socioeconomic strata and while there have been challenges that have arisen from the differences in our upbringings, tastes and expectations, it has mostly been a meeting of the minds. Food has been a big part of that. It was pretty galling to see how cruel people could be about anodyne things like white bread and I found that I had to re-examine my own prejudices in that department. So this thread resonates with me. Eating foie gras doesn't make you a better person.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:51 PM on January 7 [8 favorites]


When eating out is a relatively rare treat that represents a financial sacrifice of something else important, you don't take any chances that you won't enjoy it - whatever it is you enjoy.

It's also a matter of bang for the buck. There was a reason we'd go to Cici's in my teenaged years even though we knew there were better pizza places. When you're a single mom trying to feed two kids going through puberty on a schoolteacher salary, you're not going to pay $18 for one fucking pizza, you're going to pay $21 for three all you can eats with soda.

Did we know how much better pizza could be? Kinda. Growing up we'd only had the experience of Domino's and Pizza Hut because, well, the former had coupons and the latter we'd get free ones for reading enough books. Wasn't until both my brother and myself had money and the opportunity to have much better ones were our eyes--and our mother's--opened.
posted by anem0ne at 2:13 PM on January 7 [29 favorites]


Chili mac is (in this snake person's view) an objectively perfect food. I hope you get to try it someday!

I've had it! It's good. It's not comfort food for me, but I'm never gonna turn it down.
posted by anem0ne at 2:15 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


> I wonder if "consuming food" is a category of discussion akin to "an individual person's body" -- not really up for comment unless it's your own.

If I had three wishes, one of them would be to sway everyone through some sort of psychic PR campaign to just never call another person's food "gross" for any reason ever and just stick to using "I" statements instead.

(This goes for food perceived as "fancy" as well as food perceived as "lowbrow.")
posted by desuetude at 2:33 PM on January 7 [12 favorites]


Buzzfeed article was some weird shit, eh.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:44 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Yes I echo this. Classism on metafilter is real and I've read so many comments from people liberal to left that imply I am too stupid, don't read, don't value knowledge, am a redneck for not trying certain things. I walked away from that thread because it was so dropped in that. Like sorry I live on 14,000 a year and have bland tastes as I've never been exposed to anything non white english food and don't have any money to try new things that I don't already know how to cook otherwise I go hungry. But that means I must be uncultured.

What the general mefite considers middle class is so upper class to people like me and others I know. And I walk away from here a lot feeling like crap as people make huge biased judgements.
posted by kanata at 2:45 PM on January 7 [43 favorites]


That Buzzfeed thing was the kind of thing that used to get deleted around here. It wasn't even new!
posted by Kwine at 3:19 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


I disagree, Kwine -- if you look at old threads there are a lot more gross comments than there are these days, and we've always had the occasional fluff or "huh, wonder why anyone cares about that" post.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:39 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


What the general mefite considers middle class is so upper class to people like me and others I know. And I walk away from here a lot feeling like crap as people make huge biased judgements.

Yes!
posted by jgirl at 4:32 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


What the general mefite considers middle class is so upper class to people like me and others I know. And I walk away from here a lot feeling like crap as people make huge biased judgements.

And if you point that out they're like "but you can find it cheap at x if you use y and also there's z reason why [thing] is totally not expensive at all and accessible to everyone" as if the actual monetary number is the one and only problem. Everyone can take that risk and has the social capital to know that's available and can take the time out of their day to search for deals and go somewhere out of the way to make it happen, of course.
posted by brook horse at 4:46 PM on January 7 [17 favorites]


posted by Kwine That Buzzfeed thing was the kind of thing that used to get deleted around here.

I have no idea how these stupid BuzzFeed articles keep getting wedged in MetaFilter, or why.
posted by mattdidthat at 5:35 PM on January 7 [11 favorites]


Everyone can take that risk and has the social capital to know that's available and can take the time out of their day to search for deals and go somewhere out of the way to make it happen

Yeah, this is kind of part of the negative dynamic around working-class narratives that I'm critical of. In examples like that, some people in financially limited conditions can and do. Not everyone. Some people of middle and upper classes cannot and do not. Not everyone. There are real patterns, but they aren't blanket assumptions. Throwing a universalizing statement ("this is impossible for poor people") at an idea like "you can just go buy the cheaper one" does not improve the conversation. Notions about buying the cheaper one are neither good as a facile, ignorant prescription for others' behavior, nor as a caricature of the impossibility of that behavior everywhere for every low-income person, a straw man of helplessness and lack of agency. It's often this sort of comment that throws assumptions back at people that ends up being built on more assumptions. Acknowledging the difficulty and obstacles is one thing.

"NO ONE/EVERYONE" responses deny humanity, complexity, and reality. Reveal the barriers, reveal the complication that lies behind the assumptions. But please don't assume behavior patterns are always and necessarily the same for every low-income person. No one wants to serve as a cartoon of poverty, however rhetorically useful it is, or however tempting to throw it in the face of an ignorant prescriber.
posted by Miko at 5:40 PM on January 7 [24 favorites]


Saying "this is not a thing that is true for everyone, and it is often less true for poor people because [obstacles]" is not saying "this is impossible for poor people," though. No one is saying poor people can't eat lots of of different foods and try new things all the time. They're saying being poor creates a lot more barriers to doing so and acting like everyone should be able to do it is classist. As a poor person, I fully stand by what I said. There's no assumptions being made there. It reflects my experience and nowhere did I imply there aren't poor people who have different experiences. Just said that not everyone can do those things, and we should stop acting like everyone can.
posted by brook horse at 5:54 PM on January 7 [27 favorites]


Like I get it. I'm an avid reader and getting my PhD. I don't like people assuming I'm not intellectual because I'm poor. But saying "poor people have less access to [intellectual pursuit]" does not imply I don't exist. It just acknowledges the systemic barriers that make it harder/less likely and highlights the things people of higher socioeconomic status often take for granted.
posted by brook horse at 5:57 PM on January 7 [13 favorites]


I understand where you’re coming from, but there is a fine line there. Pointing out that there is an overgeneralization in itself is fine. Pointing out “we can’t all do this - there are structural reasons some people can’t do this easily” makes sense. At the same time, there are people with little experience of poverty that overgeneralize what it means to be on a strictly limited income, based on little personal experience. And that erases people. I have talked here over the years about my experiences, my family’s, and my friends, and have on occasion seen comments back that essentially say those experiences aren’t valid, that these people weren’t poor the right way, etc. a lot of it comes down to ignorance and over-extrapolation from individual experience: rural poverty isn’t the same as urban poverty. Having educational privilege isn’t the same as not having it. Being “land poor” or “house poor” isn’t the same as having few or no assets. And on the whole, poor people are often really fucking resourceful- a fact we rarely see mentioned in do-gooder, condescending characterizations.

Just saying that I would appreciate a more fine-grained, informed approach to discussing class issues here that didn’t revert to tropes that categorize all low-income people as exactly the same, with all the same challenges and all the same needs and all the same backgrounds. That’s not how it is, and it does real flesh and blood human beings a disservice when either the concern OR the pushback indulges in sweeping generalizations. Not that you made a sweeping generalization, you made more of a “not all" statement.

But I think we agree that it would be awesome if we could start being much more specific about what the actual structural, cultural, and economic challenges for low-income people are, and talk in specific ways ago it those things. Instead, a lot of times, I get the sense that many people here “know” what they know about poor people based on concern-y NYT articles that exoticize and otherize the poor, and treat them as a sorry monolith.
posted by Miko at 6:08 PM on January 7 [16 favorites]


I would love it if folks would remember that working class people are also human beings with feelings

And, importantly, are present in the discussion -- there is diversity in this community, and I appreciate the reminder to consider the impact of casual phrasing and assumptions.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:16 PM on January 7 [27 favorites]


I think we agree, it just felt weird that you picked my comment to quote when it was pretty explicitly a "not everyone can do this" kinda framing and not saying only rich people can ever do it. But I have seen people frame it the way you're talking about and it's annoying. This wasn't on Metafilter but there was some post going around about how stupid it is to "pay it forward" in a Starbucks line because anyone buying a $7 Starbucks drink must be bougie and can more than afford it. Like, dude, poor people buy Starbucks too... I've bought plenty of Starbucks drinks I probably couldn't really afford.
posted by brook horse at 6:17 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I also feel weird about the assumption that economic privilege means you never eat at McDonald’s. I mean, I’ve got nothing on the president, but I go there a few times a year. I grew up eating the way I did not because we didn’t have money to “do it right” but because that’s just ... how my folks did things?

Class is multifaceted not just in that some poor people have the same values and preferences as some rich people but that the converse is also true, for different sets of rich and poor people. Or maybe even the same sets, for different subsets of values and preferences. There’s not just one obviously right way to be.
posted by eirias at 6:35 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


I will gladly challenge anyone on Metafilter to a "who grew up the most poor and rural" context. And I couldn't wait to try all the things I read about that I couldn't have.*

So . . . I sorta take issue with any implication that poor people can't also be adventurous eaters, and find tying interest in food to class to be sort of a stretch, especially since moving to a region that has actual well-to-do WASPs, who as a group are the pickiest eaters I've ever met.

*I was super-intrigued by lox, of all things, which was not readily available in the SW US in the 1980s.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:44 PM on January 7 [14 favorites]


I don't think anyone has been talking about interest, just access. I too enjoy trying new things, but usually can't afford to, either fiscally or mentally.
posted by brook horse at 6:54 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Even within a single individual's lifespan, circumstances and tastes can wildly fluctuate over time. When I pause long enough to consider my own journey, I never make judgments or assumptions about someone else's tastes or habits. Unfortunately, exercising the self control to pause long enough to be considerate is another habit that has fluctuated wildly over my life.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:08 PM on January 7 [16 favorites]


There have been quite a few FFPs and Asks that poked fun or scorn at people’s homes.
Creepy House
FFP Artist house
posted by Ideefixe at 7:36 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I don't think anyone has been talking about interest, just access. I too enjoy trying new things, but usually can't afford to, either fiscally or mentally.

Even so, people still don't like having those differences in access pointed out, seeing as access seems to get treated as a virtue.

The other challenge here is that, for folks with a certain degree of privilege, the idea of lacking access isn't something they've thought of, so they conflate not having access with not being interested enough to seek out new things.

I think that what all this comes down to is that people don't really want to get into situations where there's any risk that they might feel they're being described as a collection of socioeconomic variables. And there's almost no way to talk about class and intersectionality that eliminates that risk.
posted by blerghamot at 8:06 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Yes, there are all sorts of poor people. We contain multitudes. I represent myself as poor in Canadian rural ways with no real access to any of these foods outside my repressed english background. Like chili is considered exotic spice in my family. I'm also disabled. Others are urban poor. I have more privilege than American poor people as I at least get healthcare and a supplement on top of other Canadian friends as I'm celiac. (A whopping 40 bucks). Some are educated, some of us are not.

It always seems to boil down to privileged people needing to be aware that people not in their demographic are real breathing people right here. And might have valuable things to share about their lives that could widen and broaden yours if you listen. I drop my income in these discussions not to out poor people but because I'm not ashamed of it. It is what it is. And if it makes others uncomfortable that is something to sit with. I mean I bite my tongue on Americans, ableism, etc so if people would just pause and think about real poor working class people they know instead of lumping us all in as well sometimes it seems a lot of people believe all poor people are rural trump losers.
posted by kanata at 8:34 PM on January 7 [15 favorites]


Now I'm thinking of MiHail's mushroom post. The 180º turn she did in her thinking during a thoughtful MeFi conversation is memorable.
posted by bendy at 9:18 PM on January 7 [10 favorites]


I would like to tell my story of annoying food-snobbery. Not sure which comment brought this time mind.

I had a good friend (past tense of that sentence unrelated to this story) who liked to think of himself as someone who enjoyed the finer things in life: Wine, designer clothes (that he took very good care of, to be fair), nice hotels, fine dining etc. He's also meticulous about his person and home. Me, I'm not like that. I've always said I tend to dislike "nice" food and prefer "good" food. I don't usually make the bed. There's nothing I find more tiresome than a reception with wine and cheese and hors d'ourves. Please get me some chips and cookies. And I'd rather go on a trip and stay somewhere cheap, and eat at McDs than not go. For him the pleasure of the trip is the nice amenities. So we're different. Fine.

So probably more than 10 years ago now, he was living in another country and I went to visit him and stayed at his place. I was so miserable by the time I went home because I just couldn't take the "nice" any longer. Nothing was wrong exactly, but all the "niceness" was just emotionally exhausting for me. I was outside my comfort zone THE WHOLE TRIP, 24/7. Two incidents in particular I recall: One day we were going somewhere and running late, but he absolutely could not leave until the beds were made and kitchen was clean. Then we had to get breakfast on the way -- I got a tea and muffin at Starbucks and we couldn't sit down to eat it because we were late. Do you know how hard it is to eat a muffin while holding a cup of tea and walking. Ok, but that one really isn't quite about food snobbery that's about his persnickety housekeeping.

Another night, we were with a bunch of people looking for a place to eat. I don't recall the details, but I remember this, we were all STARVING and hangry. And we wandered the city for over an hour finding a place to eat that met my friend's standards (I think the originally intended place was closed or something). At one point, as we're waiting (knowing it's going to be a very long wait) for a table at an italian restaurant, I said, why don't we just go to that place across the street -- it was a pizza by the slice place. No way, my friend wouldn't have it. They don't even have table cloths. They don't have wine. We ate at the nice Italian place and everyone had pizza. But it was thin crust (of course) and there was limoncello (which when offered to me, I thought was a dessert), and of course white table cloths.

Anyway (getting around to the point here), at one point in trip, I said to him "You know, you haven't left your comfort zone once this whole time, and I've been constantly out of my comfort zone." And he sort of smiled at the realization and said "yes, you're right..." Not in a "hmm..come to think of it, you're right, this isn't very fair" way but in a satisfied "I've upheld my standards" way. And I didn't realize later why I wasn't just hurt by this, I was really offended: It seemed clear that in his mind, his likes are better, his standards not just different but higher. So by making me do things as he likes, he's doing a good thing for me. Whereas, the things I like are lesser, and therefore, for him to do things by my preference would be ? not sure what the word is -- not quite harm, but something akin. Therefore, it's reasonable for him to expect me to be in his comfort zone for ten days, but unreasonable for me to want him to spend a few hours in mine.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:37 PM on January 7 [67 favorites]


Oh, If only I had a penguin... , your comment has left me in a blinding rage. What a monster your ex-friend is!
posted by Literaryhero at 9:56 PM on January 7


Another night, we were with a bunch of people looking for a place to eat. I don't recall the details, but I remember this, we were all STARVING and hangry. And we wandered the city for over an hour finding a place to eat that met my friend's standards

This has happened to me too! It is THE WORST when you just want to eat and the people you're with are like "Oh no, nothing around here is 'authentic' enough!"
posted by unicorn chaser at 12:53 AM on January 8 [13 favorites]


So . . . I sorta take issue with any implication that poor people can't also be adventurous eaters, and find tying interest in food to class to be sort of a stretch..

I agree with this comment. I grew up poor but food was really important to my Dad. On a daily basis all we could afford was what my parents found on sale at the local grocery. This was nourishment.

But on weekends or other special times my Dad would grab and us and go find hole-in-the-walls and street carts where he had heard that this or that was extra delicious. He was an adventurous eater too and would look at stuff in the grocery aisles and wonder how he could incorporate into a recipe to make our home-eating lives just a little better. Or cook us breakfast and show us how slow-cooking could really bring out flavors - even in his breakfast potatoes which were always perfectly crisp on the outside and tender in the center.

He taught me everything. And now, with a bit more money, I explore the way he explored, knowing that good food is not tied to money and that enjoyment of good and varied food is a human universal.
posted by vacapinta at 2:26 AM on January 8 [29 favorites]


Breakfast... potatoes!
Now, see... in my country and cultural context, that would by itself be considered quite adventurous. All of this depends so heavily on context it's not even funny.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:44 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


I feel this pretty hard. I grew up in a small midwestern town with few restaurants and the food on the table was usually pretty basic "conservative" fare. And a lot of processed foods (Velveeta, Miracle Whip, Spam, Sizzlean, you name it...) and all that. "Fancy" was Red Lobster once or twice a year. Ponderosa or Golden Corral the next town over was good eatin' and of course their steak is best well-done and slathered in A1 or the like. It was a Big Deal(TM) when my town got a McDonalds in the 70s and a Pizza Hut in the mid-80s.

Fast forward to now and I work in the software industry and have a lot of white collar friends who have Sophisticated Tastes(TM) and look askance at all of that. I would 100% rather have a bag of corn chips with Velveeta dip than a fancy brie bake with nuts and cranberries.

I have gone around the world and tried a slew of foods and enjoyed some and hated others, but I realized some time ago that I have no strong urge towards novelty seeking and like being in my comfort zone more than not. There's no one right way to live, but I have figured out the way to live that makes me happiest and I support everybody else doing the same so long as their happy isn't making other people miserable.

we were with a bunch of people looking for a place to eat

Groups trying to find a restaurant are my special hell. Did a ton of travel to industry events over a 10-plus year span, and I've grown to loathe the entire process associated with trying to get a group to a restaurant and eat.

For a while I tried solving it by limiting the group size and taking the initiative to make reservations ahead of time. This sometimes worked but was often foiled by late-breaking additions to the group. "I know we made reservations for 10, but as I was walking through the event floor I ran into seven people and told them we were doing dinner and they all want to come too. Also two have gluten and soy allergies, one wants steak, another is vegan, and one of them is doing low-carb so can we find someplace to accommodate all that?"

I'll just be staying at home with a PBJ and some Cheez-Its.
posted by jzb at 5:19 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


And I grew up among working-class people who loved food, gew it, ate it voraciously and were always eager to try new things. Most of my life until recently I've lived on a very lean budget, and when people asked what I wanted as a gift for birthdays or Christmas, fancy food I couldn't normally afford - special jams, chutneys, olives, etc. - was usually my answer. Meanwhile, one of my co-workers is a daughter of privilege who, in her late 30s, eats very few things apart from chicken in breast-meat or nugget form, Romaine lettuce, oranges and various forms of noodles. So, YMMV.

Food and class are definitely intersectional but class is not the sole determinant of foodways.
posted by Miko at 5:24 AM on January 8 [23 favorites]


I find it off-putting to say that a lack of access to a broad range of food is part of someone’s “culture and identity.” Poverty and lack of access aren’t cultural choices.

Also, someone’s “conservative” is someone else’s “exotic.” The working class is literally billions of people.

Classism is real and food snobbery is real, I just disagree with equating the two.
posted by rue72 at 5:48 AM on January 8 [19 favorites]


I am a picky eater, always have been. Most spices just taste like burning to me, I have texture issues.... All that jazz. And I still remember one mefite saying straight up that they just couldn't be friends with a picky eater, like dinner parties are the best part of a friendship or something. At the time I was like, ha, your loss, but I still remember it because clearly on some level it bothered me. That I'm literally *not worth being friends with* because of my diet. People can be really shitty about food.
posted by stillnocturnal at 5:52 AM on January 8 [24 favorites]


Poverty and lack of access aren’t cultural choices.

No, they're not, but culture is not always chosen - we don't really 'choose' the cultural setting we're raised in as children, and that can have a deep influence on the formation of our food tastes.

I grew up in a white working class setting in the UK in the 70s and 80s, and it was only in adulthood that I really came to experience a much wider range of foods. My absolute favourite comfort foods still hearken back to my childhood, despite the fact that, to all appearances, I'm a middle class academic/cultural worker now.
posted by Chairboy at 6:22 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


Now I'm thinking of MiHail's mushroom post. The 180º turn she did in her thinking during a thoughtful MeFi conversation is memorable.

I never read The Mushroom Post, so I went and skimmed the thread, making sure to read every comment by the OP. To me, she seemed pretty classist and full of assumptions about other people at the beginning of the thread, and by the end, her comments seemed just as classist and full of assumptions.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:05 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


I’d tried nearly all the foods on that list, but only because I was once a lower-working-class restaurant worker. Food prep is a bust-ass grind that I feel lucky to have escaped from, but I’m glad for the education I got while doing that work. I certainly don’t expect those around me to have had those experiences.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:05 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


I have texture issues....

OMG yes, is there a good technical or latin word for picky eater so I can describe myself without being embarrassed? I'm certainly white male privileged but while my grandfather was well off he was a farmer from the depression that did not have exotic tastes, I did not learn the joy of fresh green beans although I watched my grandmother crack and nibble fresh. It took my years later to realize the white rice (no sauce sprinkled with a bit of sugar) we were fed was part boring preference but largely what my mother could afford that week.

But also good sauce was not available, anywhere, any store. Perhaps in chinatown but I can not even think how to explain how no one I ever met would have considered that part of town for anything but a rare super adventure meal. And that was an entire huge country except for a few tiny niches.

So I started expanding my diet rather long ago and got a high score on that silly checklist, would've been 55 except for a few textures and well I'm a never-hagis-er ;-) But burying the lede here to try to avoid getting the comment flagged too many times but really, neither of those posts or any comments were attacking anyone and if a silly food clickbait link upsets perhaps it's not the problem with the poster and riffing commentators. And the same with certain other topics that 'will not be mentioned' (again to prevent this becoming a wasted removed comment).

I have seriously considered paid aversion therapy for food pickiness, just the thought of slimy food puts me off (although chocolate pudding is fine, crazy, but well yes, in that aspect I am functionally not rational). So this is not an askme but both serious questions, a name for pickiness and therapy.

So there are a few topics that *trigger* me, and I have waited a few hours or days to allow an occasional post to drop off the front page, but have never flagged because a topic bothers ME. We should be able to suck it up and allow discussion of ANY topic, every topic (except model railroads, can we just have a filter installed) and if it bugs you be more open about it, grow the topic, brings what bugs into the sunlight. Bring bugs into sunlight. Expose.
Glory in your [redacted list].
posted by sammyo at 7:16 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


No, they're not, but culture is not always chosen - we don't really 'choose' the cultural setting we're raised in as children, and that can have a deep influence on the formation of our food tastes.

I think lots of people who grew up in intellectually-curious households -- even those of limited means -- really don't grasp how impossible it seemed for many of us to know anything beyond the ends of our metaphorical noses in the pre-internet era. I didn't know what I was missing because I didn't know it existed. How could I?

Everything I knew about "college" and "office jobs" and "ethnic food" -- which was basically nothing on all counts -- I picked up from sitcoms. Everybody in my life was doing their best, but their best didn't include fostering or enabling a curiosity about the world. Financial and cultural poverty don't always travel together -- as many are demonstrating in this thread -- but they're frequent bedfellows.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:19 AM on January 8 [20 favorites]


Obviously class affects diet and travel, both culturally and materially, but also there’s no single working class “culture” that doesn’t like new food or doesn’t value curiosity or learning.

Sammyo, I just tell people I’m picky at this point and have no shame over it. Anyone who cares that much without bothering to educate themselves about the many factors that go into food preferences can go piss up a rope, as far as I’m concerned. Most of the time it’s classist, ablist, and/or smug to be judgy about someone’s limited palate, and that’s on them.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:01 AM on January 8 [8 favorites]


I think lots of people who grew up in intellectually-curious households -- even those of limited means -- really don't grasp how impossible it seemed for many of us to know anything beyond the ends of our metaphorical noses in the pre-internet era.

I think this misses the point. What is normal to you is bizarre to other people and vice versa. Sometimes that's because of a class difference, but reasonably often it's not. People being snotty about "aren't you sooooo familiar with [food they themselves just learned about yesterday]" is obnoxious. People being like, "I'm too good to eat [perfectly fine food]" is obnoxious. But that is more of an appropriation discussion and a knee-jerk white supremacist/hegemonic discussion than it is one about classism -- in my opinion.

I can certainly get on board with not acting ignorant and making fun of people's food -- including chicken McNuggets. Again, the food snobbery is real AND the classism is real, I just think collapsing them into each other ignores the large element of racism inherent in the food snobbery. And whitewashes the working class, which is alienating.

I'm not sure if this is a derail from the topic of the thread or not?
posted by rue72 at 8:11 AM on January 8 [10 favorites]


I don't think that a thoughtful discussion of the intersectionality of ethnicity, minority status, education, or whatever else with social class can be off topic or a derail in a post about social class.

"Our social class discussions will be intersectional or they will be bullshit" and since I didn't do a great job out of the gate of remembering that fact, I'm relieved that other people are bringing it up.
posted by quacks like a duck at 8:32 AM on January 8 [14 favorites]


I was born and raised in the US; my parents came from India. When we ate non-homecooked food, we usually went to chain places, like Taco Bell, Subway, and McDonald's. For a while, as an adult, I judged my parents and wished they would be more adventurous. But we were vegetarians on a single low-to-middle income, and even after money eased up a bit, it was still hard to go to a new place in medium- or small-size municipalities and figure out what they could eat. We knew there was food we could eat at those 3 fast food chains.

Also: some friends of mine made a zine a while back, an intro primer to thinking about class. I was wondering: If you were going to compile an anthology or zine specifically about the intersection of class and food, what works would you put in it?
posted by brainwane at 9:08 AM on January 8 [11 favorites]


(except model railroads, can we just have a filter installed)

Not wanting to derail (ha) this excellent thread, but this does actually make me feel a little bit sad. I do love a good model railroad (post). Does there always have to be one thing/subject that gets put in the 'lol, seriously though, everything except that one thing, amirite' category?
posted by Chairboy at 9:40 AM on January 8 [12 favorites]



Food and class are definitely intersectional but class is not the sole determinant of foodways.

The best cooks in my family, who prepared the most hands-down gorgeous, moutwatering and memorable meals, are/were working class women in Appalachia. They were clever and adventurous in their use of what they had, and what they could buy, grow and trade, what they picked up from longtime community members and newcomers alike, and famously generous with what they prepared. My great-grandmother didn't have an indoor bathroom until the 1970s, but she always made enough food to feed anyone who was hungry and never stopped adding to her wealth of new recipes and techniques. And that was a thing that she passed on and down through various generations, and though her many descendants may be (sometimes starkly) divided by politics, religion, cultural experience, and, indeed, social class, it is that food--what my still-working-class relatives would call "simple, country food" (which is, by the by, neither simple nor exactly country , whatever that means) that still brings us together, whether we're sharing recipes or tasting each other's attempts at various family events.

Just because a thing is the seeming province of the poor and uneducated doesn't mean it's not itself rich in history, culture, flavor and beauty.
posted by thivaia at 9:42 AM on January 8 [39 favorites]


Amen to that.
posted by Miko at 10:07 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


The food snobbery overlooks a lot of us with food issues or actual illnesses. I have a touchy stomach. When I'm on a work trip or going to be stuck on a long flight, I eat something that I know isn't going to make me sick or spend hours in an airline toilet praying for death on a turbulent flight across the Midwest. My wife has a gluten allergy that means she'll be in pain for days if she gets gluten. Sometimes we do go to Applebee's or Chili's or TGI Friday's, because they tend to have GF options and/or food safety training drilled into them that a trendy new place might not. Sometimes I do eat chicken nuggets or tenders--oh, most gauche of confessions--because I have 8 hours to drive the next day and I'd rather not spend a ton of time in a shady interstate bathroom regretting the fancy option or "oh, yeah, we put mayo on that lol".
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:38 AM on January 8 [11 favorites]


“ We should be able to suck it up and allow discussion of ANY topic, every topic (except model railroads, can we just have a filter installed) and if it bugs you be more open about it, grow the topic, brings what bugs into the sunlight. Bring bugs into sunlight.”

Ah yes, because sucking it up about racism has worked so well. What a privileged stance.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:09 AM on January 8 [29 favorites]


I think that Metafilter often displays casual classism, and food is one of those ways that we could do better about. I think it most often manifests not in casual posts like the ones flagged above, though, and more in classism aimed at “low-class” aspects of those that we generally politically oppose. I remember the vast and immense amount at them when we were hating on Trump - who deserves the hate, but not being really aware that other people would be tarred with the same brush. I remember a lot of mockery because “who didn’t know that his tie was too long” or whatever, and like: me. I am the person who has no idea how long men’s ties are supposed to be because I didn’t grow up into a family that was aware of the unwritten rules of middle-to-upper-class clothing. I am also the person who doesn’t fully understand which steaks are supposed to be which doneness, because it’s largely based as I understand it on the quality of the steak, and growing up, all of mine had the same quality:not very good. I have a broader food palette because I’m not white, and because when I travelled I was more willing to eat the food of others who were not white, but that doesn’t mean the classism doesn’t still burn when I see it.
posted by corb at 11:10 AM on January 8 [22 favorites]


they tend to have GF options and/or food safety training drilled into them that a trendy new place might not

Ghostride The Whip, your point kind of rhymes with mine in a way .... one of the things that surprised me when I read a bunch of agriculture consultant Sarah Taber's work for the first time was when she said (I'm paraphrasing) that the worst practices she's seen were on small farms, and that many big corporate operations actually do things way better when it comes to systems and processes.

Big chain restaurants offer somewhat more predictability -- not just in the specific tastes and textures of the food, and prices, but on accessibility, ingredient lists (sometimes), safe handling of allergies and other restrictions, hours open, and so on. I appreciate this more now than I used to.
posted by brainwane at 11:38 AM on January 8 [8 favorites]


plain plate of noodles with a little bit of butter is good enough for me
posted by lazaruslong at 12:04 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson When I pause long enough to consider my own journey, I never make judgments or assumptions about someone else's tastes or habits. Unfortunately, exercising the self control to pause long enough to be considerate is another habit that has fluctuated wildly over my life.

God bless you, brother. (dips pizza in ranch dressing)

posted by sammyo We should be able to suck it up and allow discussion of ANY topic, every topic (except model railroads, can we just have a filter installed)

Dude um wait WHAT?
posted by mattdidthat at 12:51 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


The actual food itself matters little. It's the attitude of the eater. My affluent in-laws, about whom I complained in my earlier comment, are some of the plainest "clean" eaters I know. I've literally been served lettuce before. Not salad, lettuce. Nothing tossed in, no dressing, just leaves on a plate. They're not the kind of people to "explore" food, even though they have the access. But I'm not trying to say that eating at Culver's, as I like to do, is any better. It's just different. I like Culver's because I have certain tastes, and they like lettuce because they have different tastes. Neither is in any way superior to the other.

Honestly, it's a function of late capitalism. When the only way to define your identity is what you consume, the easiest way to increase your self-esteem is to define your patterns of consumption as superior. It happens in TV (The Wire vs The Bachelor), it happens in clothing, in cars, etc. If the stuff I consume isn't as good as or better than the stuff you consume, that means you're a better person than me. It's BS regardless of who's defining the rules. The problem is the need for rules like this in the first place.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:53 PM on January 8 [16 favorites]


plain plate of noodles with a little bit of butter is good enough for me

Oh my god I saw that skit last week and already managed to forget how much it spoke to me on a spiritual level. Thank you for bringing it back to my attention.

Now I desperately want a plain bowl of noodles with a little bit of butter but I'm horribly sick with the stomach flu. :(
posted by brook horse at 1:19 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


very topic (except model railroads, can we just have a filter installed)

Dude um wait WHAT?


Hello, really, come on, it wasn't that lame.... OK: pony request to allow folks that just do not get dumb yokes to register for a "yes someone was trying to make a phunny but yes it's lame but give them a break, no not literally via the onion dark web" popup highlighting or better how 'bout adding a laughtrack to help us failed comics out, huh, nudge nudge

(BIG Thomas the Tank Engine HUG for all the railroad enthusiasts)

('k I admit I'm just rolling over loling here)

(((ok, yes very lame)))

posted by sammyo at 1:28 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


There was a quote in an article I read last week that, paraphrasing, read, "I didn't know what a racist was until I discovered I was one."

Having traveled the world, a privilege afforded me mostly by good fortune and timing, I see the world differently from most people I know who have not traveled. Those of us who have done a lot of travel see the rooted folks around us, including in the places we visit, differently from ourselves. That's not necessarily a value judgement. It certainly involves people who have the means and those who don't. Which side of that equation you fall on often determines how you judge others, or at least how you view them and their perspectives. It's not uncommon for someone who travels to be a lot more open to food and cultural differences than someone who hasn't ever been more than 100 miles outside of their home town before. I'm not going to apologize for my perspective to someone who feels like I'm dunking on them simply because I have done things they haven't. I don't feel overly compelled to brag or rub it in anyone's face, either. The class ladder goes both ways, and where you are on it varies tremendously.
posted by Chuffy at 1:39 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Hello, really, come on, it wasn't that lame.... OK: pony request to allow folks that just do not get dumb yokes to register for a "yes someone was trying to make a phunny but yes it's lame but give them a break, no not literally via the onion dark web" popup highlighting or better how 'bout adding a laughtrack to help us failed comics out, huh, nudge nudge

In a thread about being aware of ways that people are made to feel unwelcome and othered, jokes about making certain people feel unwelcome aren't great.
posted by Lexica at 1:40 PM on January 8 [24 favorites]


I can certainly get on board with not acting ignorant and making fun of people's food -- including chicken McNuggets. Again, the food snobbery is real AND the classism is real, I just think collapsing them into each other ignores the large element of racism inherent in the food snobbery. And whitewashes the working class, which is alienating.

Here here. We might as well redefine 'working class' to be middle class (true middle) white people from the south. And here we are again about their identity, which we have all seen means they can criticize literally everything about everyone else but anything you say against theirs is a hurtful personal attack on their 'culture' and in this thread they are literally defending Donald Trump and Dr Phil, neither of which were ever even true middle class white people.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:47 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


posted by Lexica In a thread about being aware of ways that people are made to feel unwelcome and othered, jokes about making certain people feel unwelcome aren't great.

sammyo and I have known each other here for over a decade so I know he was making a joke and I was too so let's all just take a deep breath and relax okay thanks in advance

choo-choo-choo-choo-choo
posted by mattdidthat at 1:52 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


It's ironic exclusion. You know, the kind where the joke hinges on "I think it's absurd that group X would be excluded, or that I would be the person to engage in excluding group X; and I'm hoping/assuming you share that sentiment".
Including such hits as:
* "Haha, redheads don't have souls" (Wait, you mean that episode directly led to a marked increase in hate crimes/bullying?)
* "I like everyone except the Dutch" (insert Youtube link soon to be copyright-struck here)
* Every other flavor of "ironic racism"

But of course surely this would never backfire or reinforce existing prejudices, and we can Comedy Dungeon it up without fear of impact.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:52 PM on January 8 [12 favorites]


Sammyo this isn’t a great place for jokes that “lighten things up” or similar. it’s really easy for jokes to come across as being disrespectful to the people in the thread talking about ways this stuff makes them feel crummy on Mefi. I’m sure that’s not what you intend.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:03 PM on January 8 [9 favorites]


We might as well redefine 'working class' to be middle class (true middle) white people from the south. And here we are again about their identity, which we have all seen means they can criticize literally everything about everyone else but anything you say against theirs is a hurtful personal attack on their 'culture' and in this thread they are literally defending Donald Trump and Dr Phil, neither of which were ever even true middle class white people.

As the person who made the comment about Trump: I'm a working class Latina and I can assure you, as many know, I fucking despise Trump. I'm not defending him, I'm saying there are a lot better ways to insult him than on the grounds of class markers, which affect other people than him.
posted by corb at 2:29 PM on January 8 [25 favorites]


mattdidthat: sammyo and I have known each other here for over a decade

That's fantastic, but this isn't an email or IM exchange, it's a public forum where your in-jokes aren't communal in-jokes.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:31 PM on January 8 [23 favorites]


[Comment deleted. Nope, sammyo, we're not gonna dig in on People Just Shouldn't Get Triggered as the angle here, and we're not gonna keep watching this thread for yet another salvo so this is a day off. We are making a concerted effort to have MetaFilter not be another toxic free-for-all on the internet and that means making an effort to follow the spirit of the site guidelines, not putting it on other people to just not be bothered by behavior.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:11 PM on January 8 [38 favorites]


I've favorited a lot of comments in this thread. I think MeFi has a problem with contempt. Before posting their hot takes about how people who have never eaten foo are baz, I wish people would simply rein in their contempt. I would remind them that this is a community, not a private conversation between them and their buddies. But because they have contempt for other people, it doesn't matter to them if those people see it or not. If you have contempt for someone, it's not worth using your manners on them, is it?

Thanks for posting this, anyway. I'm poor and can't afford to travel and don't want to live in a city and I'm an unskilled laborer and I've felt for years now this site isn't really for me, but I'm still here, and I'm glad someone sees me and the rest of the people like me.
posted by the liquid oxygen at 4:43 PM on January 8 [74 favorites]


I wish people would simply rein in their contempt.

Yes! Oh, this is a good way of putting it. I participated in that BuzzFeed thread above but it really got my hackles up. Feeling "this site isn't really for me"—yeah, I feel that way basically all the time. I find a lot of value in Metafilter (and I've tried to make my home here) but I want us all to keep fighting to improve it, even though at the same time I hate how much it feels like a losing battle. But this conversation is really good, thanks, quacks like a duck for starting it and folks for adding to it.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 5:14 PM on January 8 [25 favorites]


Which side of that equation you fall on often determines how you judge others, or at least how you view them and their perspectives. It's not uncommon for someone who travels to be a lot more open to food and cultural differences than someone who hasn't ever been more than 100 miles outside of their home town before. I'm not going to apologize for my perspective to someone who feels like I'm dunking on them simply because I have done things they haven't. I don't feel overly compelled to brag or rub it in anyone's face, either.

This feels more or less like an example of what's been suggested we do less of in the FPP. There are many ways to have an appreciation for and curiosity about other people's lives that don't involve being able to travel more than 100 miles. (There are these fantastic things called libraries. See also travel documentaries--I enjoyed that that Sue Perkins Mekong River series and it made me want to go to the region, but I also have approximately zero expectation that I ever will for a variety of reasons.) Some people travel thousands of miles and spend the whole time moaning about how it's not exactly like home.
posted by hoyland at 4:08 AM on January 9 [18 favorites]


MeFi's contempt is the reason the site isn't for me. Without thinking, I often assume that this is the way most MeFi users want it to be, and that I would be acting out of my place to try to change that. But if other people are similarly inhibited... maybe Team Rein In Contempt is bigger than I think.
posted by Jpfed at 7:39 AM on January 9 [22 favorites]


maybe Team Rein In Contempt is bigger than I think

I truly think it is. The dial moves pretty slowly on some things, but these days I think the dial is still a lot more mobile than it was once upon a time, and more mobile than a lot of internet communities ever reach.

And the only way for people to stretch past whatever biases they have, and everyone has some because nobody gets to live all experiences, is to interact with other people/concepts* in order to fill in what we do not know or have not previously understood with useful context. In a place like this, too, calling one other or a few other commenters in/out on something (or criticizing source material) isn't just sharing that information with that one or a few people - everyone who reads it gets an opportunity to take something away.

I have to credit Metafilter pretty heavily for all the bullshit it has weeded out of me or taught me to understand/appreciate/enjoy, probably 90% of the time silently with nothing but maybe a favorite as far as my personal interaction goes.

*And there's no One Right Way to get that interaction. There are people in this world who've never traveled more than 100 miles from their birthplace because they can't or won't or aren't allowed for one of a million possible reasons and they're still doing stuff and knowing things and learning more and understanding more, because information exists. Conversely, there are plenty of closed-minded unempathetic uninterested people even in the biggest cities on earth living far from where they started, and sitting on airplanes next to you going the same place you are. So that's probably not the one thing dividing Smart People Like Me from Ignorant People Like Them.

One of the most important things I've learned in my adult life is that there's very little snobbery that's actually justified and righteous. Even when it's pretty righteous - like with Nazis - snobbery doesn't drive solutions, it just creates insulation. There's better tacks to be taken. It's just sometimes really hard to be loud enough to talk over the contempt, and is sometimes tempting to fall back into the comfort of it.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:57 AM on January 9 [16 favorites]


I have to credit Metafilter pretty heavily for all the bullshit it has weeded out of me or taught me to understand/appreciate/enjoy, probably 90% of the time silently with nothing but maybe a favorite as far as my personal interaction goes.

ditto ... certainly over the past ten years or so. In my experience, the serious bullshit weeding started when I was eleven and started reading "grown-up" books, the world suddenly being revealed as magnitudes more complex than I could possibly have imagined. Maybe fifteen years later, I first stumbled across the simple five word phrase that has become my sort of guiding directive, particularly when things get ... complicated:

"Everything You Know Is Wrong"

It's not always accurate, but it's a good touch point, a good reminder, particularly when I'm feeling convinced I'm absolutely right about something. And yeah, it's kind of hard to be a proper snob when I suspect that yeah, deep down inside, I'm probably wrong about this, too ... at least slightly.

I wish people would simply rein in their contempt.

This is a wonderfully succinct way of saying something that's been bugging me for a while now re: some of my interactions here. It's not that we're wrong about the things that we feel contempt for -- it's the contempt itself, particularly when it gets assigned to individual humans. The Christians get a lot wrong these days but "hate the sin, not the sinner" -- that's a solid tactic.
posted by philip-random at 10:02 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]


maybe Team Rein In Contempt is bigger than I think

I think it is, too. But I am often the person shouting "rein in your damn contempt, conflict or no conflict, whether or not you think the person you are mad at is in the room!" in these discussions, so I might be biased.

I have the opposite experience of a lot of folks in this room who grew up poor and aren't now, in that I grew up upper-middle-class and... am not now, as an adult. (I'd say "broke" rather than poor, probably.) I certainly find that I try new food things out much less often now that I weigh the cost of every meal out and small luxury and necessary purchase against the existing burden of debt: what if I don't like it? what if I waste that, and I could have put it against something else? what if I lose the ability to do things I badly care about?

On the other hand, my partner grew up poor, and by their lights we're much less poor than they were growing up, at least in money. Trying new food things out and eating good-quality food is something they have always been highly motivated to do: they often request high-end kitchen equipment for birthdays or holiday gifts, frequently experiment with trying to create new kinds of food items, and enjoy fucking around and trying to replicate interesting flavors.

It's complicated! There's no single way to react to stress, either on a generational/cultural level or on an individual level. But I do think it's worth it sometimes to point out, "this stress affects me by making this $valued_thing inaccessible. You aren't a bad person for enjoying it, but I am not a bad person for being unable to afford it either--and I am probably not the only person who can't afford it, so understanding and/or appreciating $valued_thing really should not be mandatory." I think this is a lot of what discussion of accessibility vis a vis class is trying to get at, and perhaps there's a better way to do it.

I relate it back to disability, honestly: just because I am willing to spend the cognitive and emotional energy navigating thick, loud, sensorily overwhelming crowds through tightly squeezed pathways to go to, say, the Atlanta Aquarium despite the near certainty of overloading... doesn't mean that the aquarium is equally accessible to autistic people as they are neurotypical people. I am willing to pay in energy and resources to go anyway because I personally think it is worth it, but I am not willing to say that someone who looks at that aquarium and says "absolutely not, I can't afford that!" is somehow lazy or not interested in marine biology or not interested in the wider world because they can't access this specific kind of experience.
posted by sciatrix at 10:05 AM on January 9 [18 favorites]


The Christians get a lot wrong these days but "hate the sin, not the sinner" -- that's a solid tactic.

...for an aphorism that's generally used in a highly offensive way to justify behaving hatefully to queer people and then innocently complaining that you love them as people, just not a huge part of their lives and cultural experience and way of expressing love...

That is not a solid tactic. I get what you're saying generally, but I actually think that applying that tactic is a massively easy trap to fall into when you're trying to confront any *ism and/or xenophobia with a group of people. It's all too easy to decide that something that is unfamiliar or unpleasant on first exposure isn't "really" a part of the person you're talking about, and that you can separate the parts of a person you like and the parts you don't like and still be treated as a good friend while you express distaste or hatred for fundamental aspects of a person. No.

Instead, perhaps consider: "Choose your targets wisely," and if you are going to express frustrated contempt, make very sure you aim that contempt very specifically at the behaviors and people who are really triggering that emotion. What, exactly, is the disgusting/shameworthy/criticism-worthy thing you are angry or frustrated about? Talk specifically about that.
posted by sciatrix at 10:10 AM on January 9 [27 favorites]


"Don't yuck someone else's yum" is something I heard when I was young and I passed it along to my kids as they were growing up. Applies to all kinds of things, including but not limited to travel, book preferences, food likes/dislikes, clothing choices, kink, and music preferences.

I've not always been successful in remembering that before I knee-jerk into judgement, but I really do try. Don't yuck someone else's yum.
posted by cooker girl at 11:00 AM on January 9 [17 favorites]


posted by cooker girl Don't yuck someone else's yum.

Finally, the antidote for Your Favorite Band Sucks.
posted by mattdidthat at 1:17 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Aside from the phrase giving me several unfortunate mental images, "don't yuck my yum" often means "don't call me out for unapologetically loving and identifying with white straight cis supremacy" so nah, there's lots of faves that deserve to be called out as problematic.

"No degradation without consideration," however, is a good policy that doesn't evoke vomit so much, even if it's less catchy. If I'm about to sneer that your favorite band sucks, I should first know why I'm sneering - is their material heavy on violence toward women, or do they just have a sound that doesn't appeal to me, or is it that I perceive their fanbase as some group of people I don't identify with and am culturally conditioned to think poorly of? Possibly the suckiness of your favorite band is not an opinion I need to express because it's not hurting anyone and I'm not the arbiter of all that is good, possibly I need to deal with my shitty prejudices, or maybe they DO suck and I'm going to say so and be comfortable that I've done my homework on the matter.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:56 PM on January 9 [11 favorites]


This feels more or less like an example of what's been suggested we do less of in the FPP. There are many ways to have an appreciation for and curiosity about other people's lives that don't involve being able to travel more than 100 miles. (There are these fantastic things called libraries. See also travel documentaries--I enjoyed that that Sue Perkins Mekong River series and it made me want to go to the region, but I also have approximately zero expectation that I ever will for a variety of reasons.) Some people travel thousands of miles and spend the whole time moaning about how it's not exactly like home.

This feels like a different kind of dunking to me. I have had some fortunate experiences in life. I know they were...unusual, not simply in terms of the people around me at "home" and the places I visited, but also historically - the amount of travel I've done in my lifetime was not accessible even a century ago. Reading comments like this discourages sharing that experience, which kind of sucks. I don't look forward to laying out my awareness of my own privilege (but I know that, sometimes, it's important to do so in advance), am not trying to be contemptuous or a braggart, and I don't consider my perspective to be one where I am sitting on a throne being carried through the streets by the serfs talking about how they should try avocado toast, either. I have a perspective. I'm sharing it. I'm not doing that out of contempt for others, but if contempt is what people see, I can't think of an easier way to shut down the conversation and get right to the trolling...

I appreciate it when people let me know if I've struck a nerve or written something that evokes some sort of antagonism. We live in a big, broad, wide-open world. Freedom of expression is a part of my life that is also privileged...I'm sure plenty of people don't feel the same way, for legitimate reasons. I'm not really here to dunk on anyone. I occasionally take shots from outside and I miss a lot. I've also been dunked on. It's part of the game, I guess.
posted by Chuffy at 3:25 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


>> There are many ways to have an appreciation for and curiosity about other people's lives that don't involve being able to travel more than 100 miles.

> Reading comments like this discourages sharing that experience, which kind of sucks.


The comment you're replying to was directly responding to this:
It's not uncommon for someone who travels to be a lot more open to food and cultural differences than someone who hasn't ever been more than 100 miles outside of their home town before.
The problem isn't talking about your travels, if you've traveled. The problem is the implication that people who haven't traveled are inherently less open to food and cultural differences (yes, the phrasing is "not uncommon" but the implication is that it's the default). Going to "well, I guess I'm just not allowed to talk about that here" is centering the concerns of the well-traveled over those of the less-traveled or untraveled.
posted by Lexica at 3:45 PM on January 9 [19 favorites]


I don't see any problem with sharing experiences you've had while traveling. As Lexica points out, the problem is in implying others are lesser in some way because they have not traveled, for whatever reason. I don't see why you'd have to do the former in order to do the latter.
posted by Miko at 5:51 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Some people travel thousands of miles and spend the whole time moaning about how it's not exactly like home.

Sort of like the implication here is that this is the default? I usually try to be careful with my words, so maybe it doesn't matter how I phrased it...clearly, an implication was assumed and here we are. I don't know if it's inherent, but from what I've seen, at least anecdotally I consider my point to be accurate. Regardless of access to Netflix, travel documentaries and libraries, which assumes quite a lot more privilege and access than even I did.

I never claimed anyone was lesser. Is there a scale/measurement of how much exposure you have to other cultures/foods that is somehow rated on better/worse? This type of judging is irrelevant. If someone has never seen the ocean, does my living closer to the ocean make me better than them? Am I judging them if I say, "Hey, that person has never seen the ocean." I've never been to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Does that mean I'm being judged by people who have? I don't get it.
posted by Chuffy at 6:02 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I never claimed anyone was lesser.

That sounds fine. What's your question?
posted by Miko at 6:08 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


That sounds fine. What's your question?

If you care, read the next sentence that ends in a question mark from what you quoted and responded to. I don't think anything else I say is going to matter, there's already a lot of implied contempt about the implied contempt. That's not a rabbit hole I want to go down now.
posted by Chuffy at 6:16 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I think the whole point of this exercise is that there shouldn't be a scale to judge people's exposures to different cultures based on access and opportunity?

I'm not sure how you're getting the opposite of that?
posted by anem0ne at 6:31 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Let's not get into a spiral over what one person thinks. Main point here is the awareness to try to avoid sources of judginess that end up being classist. People can value different things, but still take extra care in talking about stuff like this if they know these tackiness/taste/food/decor/etc judgments can end up making people feel like they don't belong.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:44 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


> Aside from the phrase giving me several unfortunate mental images, "don't yuck my yum" often means "don't call me out for unapologetically loving and identifying with white straight cis supremacy" so nah, there's lots of faves that deserve to be called out as problematic.

So, you're explicitly equating tolerating what other people eat with tolerating white supremacy and homophobia. That's offensive as fucking hell.
posted by nangar at 8:13 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


It sounds like that was an observation about how some people use that phrase in some parts of the internet? I can imagine it used in problematic ways (to mean, "the fact I like something immunizes it from any critique"). So I can see where Lyn Never might have a strong reaction to that phrase.

But I've seen the phrase more as a kind of gentle reminder that my taste is just my taste, and to keep my judgments to myself, in those cases that are really just matters of taste (chocolate vs vanilla, music genre vs music genre, etc).
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:04 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


posted by LobsterMitten It sounds like that was an observation about how some people use that phrase in some parts of the internet? I can imagine it used in problematic ways (to mean, "the fact I like something immunizes it from any critique").

Except cooker girl didn't mean any of that, and claiming "Don't yuck someone else's yum," is somehow equivalent to demanding tolerance for white supremacy and homophobia is an offensive, perverted, uncharitable interpretation of cooker girl's sentiment and reveals a lot about the person who'd interpret it that way. I mean come on.
posted by mattdidthat at 9:22 PM on January 9 [25 favorites]


"Yuck" is a quick judgment without reflection. If you disagree or are revolted after some thought about something, then "Don't yuck someone else's yum" doesn't really apply. Different context.
posted by amtho at 5:13 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


So, you're explicitly equating tolerating what other people eat with tolerating white supremacy and homophobia. That's offensive as fucking hell.

hahahahah, nobody explicitly equated tolerating what other people eat to tolerating white supremacy and homophobia.

Except cooker girl didn't mean any of that, and claiming "Don't yuck someone else's yum," is somehow equivalent to demanding tolerance for white supremacy and homophobia is an offensive, perverted, uncharitable interpretation of cooker girl's sentiment and reveals a lot about the person who'd interpret it that way. I mean come on.

hahahahah, nobody said said that the phrase "don't yuck someone else's yum" is equivalent to demanding tolerance for white supremacy and homophobia. Nobody said *anything* close to that. What someone DID say is that the phrase "don't yuck someone's yum" is sometimes used in ways that the first person to use it in this thread didn't intend.

To me, the fact that a Mefite can't even offer up a critique of the phrase "don't yuck my yum" without pushback lends support to the idea that (some) Mefites are of the mindset "the fact I like something immunizes it from any critique", and I think that mentality (even if it's only present in a small percentage of Mefites) is something that makes discussions on Metafilter more difficult than they need to me.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:31 AM on January 10 [11 favorites]


The responses to cooker girl here pretty much exemplify the sort of contempt that I see here a lot, I think - Lyn Never, do you really think that cooker girl is framing things as being about never criticizing anything problematic, or do you think that they maybe were talking about how certain class/culture-marked ideas shouldn't be dismissed in a kneejerk way?

Coming into a thread about class and dropping a "what if [people I want to criticize] were white supremacists? Why are you saying I can't criticize white supremacists?" is, I would argue, not actually all that helpful to the issue at hand!
posted by sagc at 6:45 AM on January 10 [24 favorites]


FWIW, I wasn't familiar with "don't yuck someone else's yum" being associated with white cis straight supremacy. And now I do honestly feel a little shitty about it because maybe I should have known that? I'm going to choose to believe Lyn Never had good intentions, though. Perhaps they could have gone about it in a more gentle way, but I'm assuming good intentions. I assumed that bringing up the phrase in a thread about the intersection of class and culture, particularly as it relates to food preferences/choices/knowledge, my intent would have been obvious.
posted by cooker girl at 6:55 AM on January 10 [9 favorites]


I think your intent was very clear to everyone, and I think the way you use the phrase is clear to everyone. I just think some people don't like the phrase for reasons that have nothing to do with the way *you* use the phrase.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:59 AM on January 10 [16 favorites]


I have been thinking about this thread for a couple days now. I feel like if you regret not having the resources or exposure to try a bunch of "unusual" foods, that's one thing, but if you regret having inculcated the desire to try such things, or being raised in such a way as to not value them, that's a substantially different kind of regret.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:07 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


I want to thank the moderators on this site, their job is difficult. Over the last couple of days, I've been contrarian on a couple of issues, and when that happens, it is easy to spiral into the argument for argument's sake pattern. I'm pretty sure I fall into a demographic that is overly represented in society, certainly privileged...and even if I acknowledge this up front, I find myself in situations where it just doesn't matter if I think it's justified or not. It has been frustrating, and looking back at my comments, I see a weakness in my ability to elucidate without stepping back and avoiding being defensive.

So, my apologies for arguing. It's my nature. Frog and scorpion stuff.
posted by Chuffy at 8:10 AM on January 10


FWIW, I wasn't familiar with "don't yuck someone else's yum" being associated with white cis straight supremacy. And now I do honestly feel a little shitty about it because maybe I should have known that?

Awwww, don't be. I think a lot of these things can have unintended meanings outside what our experience is. For me, I've heard that phrase sometimes, occasionally, used by affable hippie dudes who want to just breeze through life without getting called on their privilege. Which doesn't mean that a lot of the time, that general maxim in this sort of arena, isn't a decent lens to think about when you're coming into a thread with a negative feeling about a topic that has mostly been positively responded to.

I really appreciate the thoughtfulness that people have been bringing to this thread. I grew up in a very confusing situation class marker-wise (parents who had sort of "dropped out" from their upper middle class upbringing and managed to keep that mostly a secret from me and my sister while we grew up in what felt a lot like lower middle class poverty, but wasn't at all) and it's been good to hear other people's stories.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:28 AM on January 10 [11 favorites]


Hey, my apologies everyone, I got pulled away for work and didn't see this unspooling here. I want to clarify I was saying the phrase itself in the world is living a life that makes it difficult to use anymore in general so it might better be avoided, not that anyone here was doing a specific thing with it.

I gave a specific example that was NOT about food as a way of extending that explanation. It's a fact of life and not any kind of personal attack to point out issues in popular language, because the knowledge of the problem is never evenly distributed. Somebody learns about "peanut gallery" every day. Everybody always crosses paths with language that seems fun and harmless but has stuff lurking in it. It happens to everyone all the time, but not so much at the same time.

Pretty much any phrase that means "don't criticize me" or "I don't want to hear about the consequences of my choices" is going to not live a great life for long, and is likely to end up as a weapon in the hands of people who expect to be immune to criticism. I'm sorry that pointing that out the way I did became a personal criticism, I definitely knew it was a catchy phrase that many people think is great and didn't think anyone here was using it to actually mean what it actually means, but there's more than one person reading this thread and maybe not adopting that phrase now without consideration.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:50 AM on January 10 [9 favorites]


I [...] didn't think anyone here was using it to actually mean what it actually means

That's an apology? Who's not using words to mean what they actually mean?
posted by Wood at 11:07 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


That's an apology?

Yep, it's an apology.

Who's not using words to mean what they actually mean?

Bless your heart.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:31 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


I’ve learned that I really need to not be so quick to call out mistakes online, even in defense of others. I find myself doing it with regularity when the rest of my life is falling apart. It feels like it’s a way of being in control, to me. That can be really comforting to me at times, but I usually just end up feeling gross and having shakes after I get negatively emotional, so I’ve tried to cut myself off from online righteous call outs.

Food is something that most people get to control. It’s one of the few choices we really have; we put it in our own mouths, we chew it, etc.

I don’t have a broad connected point, but I do know that people who are having a rough time tend to be more hesitant to step outside of things they feel safe with/can control, so when I hear someone is hesitant to try new foods, judging them for it is the last thing that comes to my mind.
posted by Drumhellz at 2:29 PM on January 10 [18 favorites]


Food is something that most people get to control. It’s one of the few choices we really have; we put it in our own mouths, we chew it, etc.

I have never thought about it this way but this resonates with me so much as an autistic person. There are so many terrible sensory experiences going on all around me that I can’t control; eating something I know I like is like putting on clothes I know are comfortable—it gives me enough control and comfort to deal with all the other things. As I once read somewhere—autistic people are always out of their comfort zone. It makes total sense that eating familiar food is a way to give me some stability so that I can deal with all the other new, uncomfortable things I’m experiencing daily.
posted by brook horse at 3:07 PM on January 10 [25 favorites]


We often talk about eating for health, but almost always in regard to physical health. Maybe we should consider eating for mental health as well.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:27 PM on January 10 [8 favorites]


I’m a person with Autism and I learned that lesson from working with my clients on the spectrum, so it’s neat to me to know it resonates with someone.
posted by Drumhellz at 3:28 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


We often talk about eating for health, but almost always in regard to physical health. Maybe we should consider eating for mental health as well.

There is actually a lot of cool research coming out that indicates that our expectations and emotional associations with the food we eat deeply impacts the way that we digest that food on a physiological level, even aside from the emotional impact of nourishment. I should see if I can find a non-paywalled article to organize a FPP around sometime, but one really good book that discusses the topic is Traci Mann's Secrets From the Eating Lab. I've dug into some of the papers she cites and they're really fascinating.

So yes, I think we absolutely should consider eating for mental health as well as physical health. The two topics are far, far less distinct than we often like to think.
posted by sciatrix at 6:56 PM on January 10 [12 favorites]


Yes sciatrix! I hope you post an FPP on this! I’ve been trying in vain this month to find the study I read about where people absorbed less nutrients from unfamiliar food than from food they were familiar with — I thought it was a Nina Planck book I first read about it but am still waiting on one to come in from the library. I believe it was folks from two different countries eating food they wouldn’t otherwise encounter. (I’ve read Mann’s book twice but don’t think it cited a study in the way I remembered it, but I will have to look closer. My fave subject!)

Also, this conversation reminds me of one phrase I’ve employed a lot that I like better than the yuck/yum: “Good for them! Not for me.” It’s a good way to interrupt my reactionary defensiveness when someone is celebrating something I don’t understand or like, I try to say it in a warm tone to myself.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 9:42 PM on January 10 [11 favorites]


I'm autistic also, and sometimes dealing with the world is pretty exhausting. If I show up at the supermarket already drained from a day of putting on my Work Face and dealing with people, I've completely run out of any ability to think intelligently or make choices about things, and then the supermarket itself is a whole world of sensory cacophony... I'm going to get the exact same thing I ate the last five nights, and it's going to be something I know how to prepare back to front, probably using the microwave. I've several times been near to complete meltdown in supermarkets, as an adult, due to the need to choose food for myself while there is background music and people with trolleys just everywhere and a kid having a tantrum. I always want to go find that child and look them in the eye and go "YES THIS IS HOW I FEEL".

That's something that happens to me a lot, even though I hold a very autism-friendly job and I have been able, due to that job, to buy a house that's super quiet and live in it on my own, and I'm not reliant on public transport, so I can minimise the level of sensory overload that I deal with day to day. Some days I'm not feeling completely overwhelmed, and then it's really noticeable that I'm suddenly ambling in the veg aisle going "hmm what about this fennel?"
posted by quacks like a duck at 3:52 AM on January 11 [16 favorites]


the thorn bushes have roses, I love that!
posted by cooker girl at 6:27 AM on January 11


FWIW, I wasn't familiar with "don't yuck someone else's yum" being associated with white cis straight supremacy. And now I do honestly feel a little shitty about it because maybe I should have known that?

This is news to me. It's something I hear only in queer spaces (as a common ground rule).
posted by hoyland at 10:21 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]


Hopefully this isn't going too far afoot on the topic, but I'd categorize "'Don't yuck people's yum' has been coopted in service of kyriarchy" as having been on the similar track as how that Let People Enjoy Things meme-response-comic-panel took off like a rocket (from good intents) and was latched onto by terrible people for terrible ends to the point that the creator officially took it out into the woods, disclaiming it.

I wouldn't say it's any slight against people who aren't plugged into the tidal shifts of internet-mediated culture (and I'm also not holding up being that-plugged-in as being necessarily better/worse); but also it's a thing to be aware of in as much as many phrases & referents get various levels of ambiguity concealing unpleasant things. The ambiguous "Did someone mean it that way, or do they not know, or do they know but want to be able to deny it..." is the goal, after all.

There's a lot of things which have gone through this process, ranging from phrases-with-unfortunate-origins to "I didn't know X was a racial/sexual slur, I just thought that was an innocuous phrase meaning 'bad' or 'deceitful' or something similar!" (Not going to repeat them, for obvious reasons, but there's been quite a few that've taken quite a bit of concerted effort within the US within the last ~2 decades which come to mind) to gestures.

I also get the desire of "don't let terrible people claim things", but by the same token fighting to preserve the ambiguity/plausible deniability of these things also extends their usefulness to the same aforementioned terrible people. We're seeing it right now, with "it's just the circle game, we swear", and "it's just the Bellamy salute, honest" has worn through people believing it.

None of this is great, I agree, and it'd be much better if we didn't have to deal with this. But acting like nobody's been adopting "Don't yuck my yum" in defense of neo-fascist imagery/media isn't the answer either.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:52 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


But acting like nobody's been adopting "Don't yuck my yum" in defense of neo-fascist imagery/media isn't the answer either.

With respect, I don't think anyone is acting like they don't know. I think until this thread they truly didn't know. There's a lot of inside baseball that happens in internet culture when it's presumed that people without access to that culture at least must sort of know the things happening inside of it. And some may but others legit totally don't, so it's worth taking sometime to think a little about context collapse when deciding who knows what. I'm fairly internet-aware and did not know that "let people enjoy things" or the yuk/yum thing had maybe been co-opted. And where I live,people don't even know those things are memes to begin with.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:28 PM on January 11 [38 favorites]


I don't remember hearing "don't yuck my yum" other than on My Brother, My Brother, and Me -- where it was used in a nice way -- and I'm on-line quite a bit.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:46 PM on January 11 [9 favorites]


[One deleted. You can ask other users for evidence without accusing them of lying.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:08 PM on January 11


But acting like nobody's been adopting "Don't yuck my yum" in defense of neo-fascist imagery/media isn't the answer either.

I don't appreciate being accused of lying. I didn't know, legitimately, that it had been co-opted.
posted by cooker girl at 5:16 PM on January 11 [7 favorites]


And good lord, why do I even bother with doing anything here anymore, honestly.
posted by cooker girl at 5:17 PM on January 11 [14 favorites]


And good lord, why do I even bother with doing anything here anymore, honestly.

I dunno, but hey, I've always liked what you've had to say. Take a break if you must, but I hope to hear from you again soon. The (more) silent majority here is bigger than the vocal minority; just remember that.
posted by heyho at 6:25 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


But acting like nobody's been adopting "Don't yuck my yum" in defense of neo-fascist imagery/media isn't the answer either.

Huh. TIL. I've only ever heard it at my kids' preschool, said by actual kids. Never encountered it online.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:35 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


I'm fairly online although not Extremely Online and until this thread the worst criticism I'd heard of "don't yuck someone else's yum" is that it's glurgey. Wherever people are seeing it being used as a defense of white supremacism, it doesn't seem to be a widespread use.

This isn't people here denying that the OK hand symbol has been co-opted by white supremacists. This is people here saying "I have literally not heard this before."
posted by Lexica at 6:38 PM on January 11 [8 favorites]


posted by cooker girl I didn't know, legitimately, that "Don't yuck my yum" had been co-opted.

Neither did I. And to be fair, the phrase you wrote was "Don't yuck someone else's yum," which is, as you noted, a directive an adult would give to a child with regards to kneejerk dismissal of book preferences, food likes/dislikes, clothing choices, music, and so on.

The perversion of your phrase into "Don't yuck my yum," and the interpretation thereof is apparently used by "adults" to justify obnoxious and odius behavior and claim said behavior must not be criticized or condemned. I was unaware of this development, but I'm not surprised by it.

I understood your phrase as the former because it's what you wrote. I think it's a fine and clever sentiment, and I plan to use it. I also know you didn't think of it or mean for it to be interpreted as the latter, despite the asinine accusations to the contrary. In the future I'll be careful about the context in which I use the phrase but I'm not going to allow trolls to ruin yet another perfectly good idea.

I hope you'll stick around. I've enjoyed reading your contributions here.
posted by mattdidthat at 6:45 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


I mean, use the phrase if you like, but you do kind of have to explain the phrase, even if you use if wholesomely. There's nothing about the phrase "don't yuck someone else's yum" that implies that "yucking" means a knee-jerk reaction (rather than a thoughtful critique), and there's nothing about the phrase that implies that "yum" should only refer to things that reasonable people can disagree about (rather than things like "proudly flying Nazi flags").

The first time I heard a variation of the phrase was on Metafilter (not in this thread), and the way I interpreted it was "don't critique things that others like". It wasn't being used to try and defend something odious, but (to try and reconnect this all to the original point of the MeTa) if you want to use the phrase to mean "Don't share your kneejerk negative reactions (of something like a particular dish) with people who like the thing that you dislike", that meaning may not be entirely obvious if you're just casually dropping the phrase into conversations without explaining how you use it (which was done in this thread, but probably isn't done every time people use the phrase).
posted by 23skidoo at 7:13 PM on January 11


I've googled the phrases "don't yuck my yum" and "don't yuck other people's yum". I get lots of confirmation of people using the phrases the way cooker girl described it. I've found no instances at all of people using the phrases to defend white supremacy and homophobia the way Lyn Never claimed was common.

I can see how these phrases could be used to defend something problematic even though I couldn't find any examples. But if you want to criticize someone for misusing a variant of the phrase this way, you can say 'I don't think this is a matter of taste preferences' and explain why.

Attacking random people for using the phrase "Don't yuck someone else's yum", and claiming it's a white supremacist, homophobic code word, as Lyn Never did in their attack on cooker girl, is pure trolling and does absolutely nothing to combat actual homophobia and white supremacy.

This massive pile-on against cooker girl is utterly baseless and disgusting.
posted by nangar at 9:28 AM on January 12 [19 favorites]


Attacking random people for using the phrase "Don't yuck someone else's yum", and claiming it's a white supremacist, homophobic code word, as Lyn Never did in their attack on cooker girl, is pure trolling and does absolutely nothing to combat actual homophobia and white supremacy.

This massive pile-on against cooker girl is utterly baseless and disgusting.


It's not an attack to point out that some people use the phrase in the way that Lyn Never explained they do. They didn't claim that EVERYONE uses the phrase that way, just that SOME people use it that way. That's not an attack, that's a piece of information, and you can do what you like with that information. You can keep using the phrase or not.

I think you're trying to start a pile-on against Lyn Never for something they didn't do, because you didn't read what they said carefully enough, and I think it's utterly baseless and disgusting.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:42 AM on January 12 [7 favorites]


Like, when Lyn Never said this:

Hey, my apologies everyone, I got pulled away for work and didn't see this unspooling here. I want to clarify I was saying the phrase itself in the world is living a life that makes it difficult to use anymore in general so it might better be avoided, not that anyone here was doing a specific thing with it.

they made it clear that they didn't say that anyone in this thread was using the phrase in a negative way.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:55 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


If we want to try and redirect this back to talking more about how to make stuff go well on the site: I think one of the big recurring difficulties of group discussion that involves a lot of different perspective and needs intersecting in a dynamic and ad hoc way is that its easy for a small bit of friction to turn into a big one on the strength of a cascade of reactions.

Usually (not always, but usually) we don't get one comment that's basically fine and then immediately a comment that's an explosive reaction to that comment.

Usually what we get is a comment that's basically fine but maybe had some detail worth unpacking, and then a comment taking issue with that detail in an understandable way but maybe pushing harder than folks expect on the objection aspect or the framing of it, and then a reaction to that that focuses on that sense of outsized objection that also cranks up the heat a little, and then reactions to that...and we end up by a few increments landing in a heated back-and-forth over that ties these increasingly entrenched positions back to interpretations of that initial detail that the original comment generally can't and shouldn't be expected to be able to meet in terms of level of heat and perceived need to establish who was right or wrong of that entrenched argument.

And nothing about the above will sound unfamiliar to anyone who has spent a fair amount of time reading or participating in arguments on the MetaFilter or the internet in general. These are recognizable systemic patterns that can happen when an argument cranks up.

But that doesn't have to happen, and the main way it doesn't happen is if folks manage to take that step back and reframe a (generally understandably!) upset or defense reaction that targets what they think someone else is thinking or saying or doing wrong as instead an explanation of where they're coming from and what they're feeling. Less of a "obviously what you think is..." mode, more of a "here's what bothers me about what I'm hearing..." things.

Because it's a lot easier to hear someone say what their understanding of a situation is and respond to that with a clarification about what you intended than it is to hear someone tell you what they've decided you really meant and then push through that with a cool-headed response. That escalates so fast and so predictably that recognizing when you're participating in either side of that bad dynamic and just forcefully stepping back, explicitly or just tacitly, can make a huge difference.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:58 AM on January 12 [15 favorites]


And I think that ties in part into some of the habitual classist stuff that comes up on the site too, both on a micro level (how a conversation wanders from e.g. talking about disparate funding in different US states to getting into swipes at perceived rural/city class marker stuff as a synecdoche for federal politics) and at a macro level (e.g. reflexive associations between 10-15% average differences in red/blue voting patterns in different US states and broad brush dismissals of all kinds of class and cultural markers associated with the American south).

Like, that's not all of it at all, but there's both the actual question of how aware any given person on the site is of class issues and the thoughtfulness they put into their own comments under ideal circumstances, and of how people talk when instead of carefully and thoughtfully unpacking their thoughts on something they're getting caught up in a heated back-and-forth where winning or rebutting or calling out some shit they don't like ends up overwhelming that inclination to think and unpack and so on.

A careful conversation basically only lasts until it stops being careful. And stuff getting heated is a likeilhood sometimes, we're never going to get entirely away from that, but recognizing the damage that ends up doing to being able to really dig in and unpack stuff can be a helpful step in working to back up and deescalate and get back to a more useful and thoughtful and educational mode of conversation. And I think part of what will come with that is less of the hot/distracted/overwhelmed produce of thoughtless or unkind bits of comments because with a lower noise level it's not as hard to keep more toward that ideal conversational space.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:15 AM on January 12 [5 favorites]


as Lyn Never did in their attack

this is one of those confusing moments for me on MF where i don't understand how things got heated - going back to the linked comment, it reads to me now like a good, mild, and constructive comment, and the immediate responses to it are what seem unwarrantedly hostile. are people reacting to the use of the word "supremacy"? i can't remember what thread it happened in, but was there recent conversation about using the word in "small" contexts being perceived as escalation instead of accurate description?
posted by gaybobbie at 2:02 PM on January 12 [7 favorites]


This massive pile-on against cooker girl is utterly baseless and disgusting.

Gentle calls for awareness about the problematic usage of an otherwise benign phrase are pile-ons now? Or was it the use of the term “white supremacy”? Is this an example of white fragility?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 2:17 PM on January 12 [8 favorites]


23skidoo: There's nothing about the phrase "don't yuck someone else's yum" that implies that "yucking" means a knee-jerk reaction (rather than a thoughtful critique)

I'm a non-native speaker of English, so I may totally be barking up the wrong end of the stick here, but I've always interpreted 'yuck' as the primary, instant, knee-jerk reaction that we have when we encounter something that disgusts us.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:41 PM on January 12 [11 favorites]


I'm a non-native speaker of English, so I may totally be barking up the wrong end of the stick here, but I've always interpreted 'yuck' as the primary, instant, knee-jerk reaction that we have when we encounter something that disgusts us.

In case I wasn't entirely clear before, I wasn't trying to suggest that anyone who interprets the phrase positively was doing anything wrong or interpreting it incorrectly. All I was trying to say before was that the phrase is ambiguous (and that ambiguity is probably due in part to the fact that "yuck" isn't commonly used as a verb, but more commonly used as an interjection).
posted by 23skidoo at 3:33 PM on January 12


Folks, maybe we can drop this yuck/yum thing now and refocus on the actual topic of the post? I think everyone agrees it's obvious cooker girl wasn't using the term as an excuse for promoting white supremacy, and a look into the phrase will show it's widely used to teach kids tolerance for food, etc., that's different from what they are used to ... AND it's pretty common for white supremacists to adopt phrases or terms meant to promote inclusivity for their own means, and to turn people on the left against each other.

As sciatrix says above "Choose your targets wisely," and if you are going to express frustrated contempt, make very sure you aim that contempt very specifically at the behaviors and people who are really triggering that emotion." I think we can all take a breath at this point and consider this advice.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:43 AM on January 13 [25 favorites]


Because it's a lot easier to hear someone say what their understanding of a situation is and respond to that with a clarification about what you intended than it is to hear someone tell you what they've decided you really meant and then push through that with a cool-headed response.

This.

I think Brene Brown said it best in her recent Netflix special. When she's struggling to deal with her reaction to a situation, she frames the discussion with "the story that I'm telling myself in my head is...". That allows the other person to immediately see if that story matches up with their intentions for the triggering statement or action and provides a place for clarification without initially putting that person on the defensive with things that sound like accusations.

"I asked you to pick up milk and you forgot. I must not be important to you" vs "the story I'm telling myself in my head is that you forgot the milk because my request and I aren't important to you" are very different tellings of the same story.
posted by hanov3r at 10:36 AM on January 13 [10 favorites]


"I asked you to pick up milk and you forgot. I must not be important to you" vs "the story I'm telling myself in my head is that you forgot the milk because my request and I aren't important to you" are very different tellings of the same story.

I get the intention is to not assume we know someone else's motivations, but this framing feels so icky to me. It's like self-gaslighting or at least inviting the other person to gaslight you.

I am saying this as a general statement about this framing as a general thing (as in the forgot the milk example). I am not opining on yucking yums, as I have not heard that phrase before this thread and I haven't even followed the argument about it enough to feel like I know anything about it (beyond "Avoid! Danger Will Robinson!") even now.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:39 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


It's like self-gaslighting or at least inviting the other person to gaslight you.

Yes, it requires assuming the other person is acting in good faith and will represent their internal state as well as they can. There are times when this is a reasonable assumption and times when it's not.
posted by PMdixon at 2:28 PM on January 15 [6 favorites]


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