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An Anthropological Dream Come True

May 8, 2012

That title is a little misleading. I feel like an anthropologist’s true dream come true would be world peace and a compassionate turn for the better with humanity, a halting of our complete waste of natural resources, the end of sexism, racism, classism, all the -isms I guess really, and  a whole bunch of other things I could list but that aren’t the actual point of this particular post. Which I’ll get to soon, promise.

I talk a lot (okay a little) about the internet here and various things related to it. (To be fair, I just finished finals, am graduating, and generally doing that whole “big transition” thing people like to talk, so I’m cutting myself some slack on the whole blogging front).

Today I’m going to write about something that has recently kept me clicking the refresh button for days. It is (drumroll please) #WhatShouldWeCallMe and all of its’ various offshoot Tumblrs spawned. Why am I so in love with this you ask? Well, let me tell you- it makes the anthropologist in me get all giddy.

You see, these lovely sites so wonderfully minimalist and crammed with gifs to last a lifetime (or at least a few cups of coffee) are windows into populations. The original site is nice, don’t get me wrong, but what I really love are the little offshoots. Like this one for med school students, or this one from a student in grad school, or this one for students in greek life on college campuses. The magical thing about these tumblrs is that they give a window to the world inside (med school, for example) when, as an outsider, you might not get it.

On that whole graduation note…

There are obvious flaws to looking at these from an anthropological perspective of course, most of which have to do with the WASP-y like vibe they all give off. Making a tumblr like this takes some time: finding the gif, making it, posting enough to keep an audience happy. It involves some definite technology and free time that make it a little skewed when it comes to a real representation of a population. Not to mention that it’s being created by one or two people who cannot represent the whole of the population they lovingly mock or even admit to trying to (as the two responsible for the original discuss here).

Nevertheless, it’s kind of fun to go onto these sites and get (even the smallest) glimpse of a world you’re not a part of and that is definitely a fun thing. And even if you’re not in it for the more research-y aspects and questions that they raise, they’re most certainly all worth a lol or two.

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