TSC: I received this note from an anonymous reader that I’d like to respond to publicly.
I wanted to ask you a quick question about the Anti-Heightism Twitter. You have made a few postings about it and each time I read and check the account to familiarize myself with it. Based upon my observations, it appears that many of the individuals that post negative views and stereotypes about short men are minorities, specifically African-Americans. I do want to be racially insensitive here, but it does stand out. Obviously, the posts on Anti-Heightism Twitter are not a representative sample. Women of every race and ethnicity are represented thereas I scroll down, but I noticed that more of the faces tended to be African-Americans which leads me to believethis is may not be by accident. Do you think or feel that certain races or ethnicities place more of an emphasis on height? I’m sure you have written about this topic before, but I cannot remember what it was and I couldn’t find it. Once again, I do not mean to disparage any race in this question.
(Just kidding. I just wanted to use this graphic)
The short answer to this question is that I do not believe that a person’s race has any bearing on their tendency to accept heightism. What we are seeing here is a confirmation bias triggered by misleading information. Twitter is not a representative sample of our society and so any anecdotal trends that seem to appear would shed no insight onto how society actually operates. In fact, a study was recently done which shows that African-Americans are more likely to use Twitter than whites (“Though African Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 22 percent of Twitter users”). So I suspect that it seems like more African-Americans are tweeting negative things about short men because more African-Americans (as a share of the population) are doing more tweeting generally. Also African-Americans text more often (over the course of a survey, 11 percent of African-American Twitter users used Twitter daily, compared to just 3 percent of whites). By contrast, the article says that African-Americans are way underrepresented on Facebook, so I would bet that you would see these same attacks against short men coming primarily from Caucasians if Facebook was searchable like Twitter.
So basically, the data is bad and so no conclusion can be drawn from it. Twitter is not a representative sample of our society. Plus, even if it were, we would still have to contend with the correlation versus causation issue.
However, as heightism is a social construct based on gender norms, it is possible that different cultures could hold different perspectives as to heightism (as gender norms may vary with culture). But we cannot draw any conclusions about this without better information.
TSC: I need to post this apology for something I posted just a few days ago. On October 25th, I posted a New York Times article entitled, Taller People Are Happier, Especially if They’re Male. I critiqued the substantive meaning of the data and what it means in terms of social discrimination. However, I failed to point out the blatant bias within the article’s tone and language itself.
For those who didn’t see the original post, the article is reprinted (in part) below:
White People Are Happier, Especially if They’re Male
By CATHERINE MAPRELL
As I wrote recently in an article on the happiest person in America, white people generally lead better lives than other ethnic groups. How much better? Here are two charts showing the typical levels of well-being in 2010 for men of various races, and then for women of various races:
As you can see, there’s a pretty steady relationship between well-being and lighter skin tone for men. The whiter men are, generally speaking, the happier they are. (Remember, as always, correlation is not causation.)
I’ll let the sociobiologists among you out there theorize about why.
Oh. Wait. That’s not right. Something’s off.
Oh well. I’ll let the sociobiologists among you out there figure out what’s different.