DEV Community

loading...
Cover image for Being A Woman On The Internet Is... "Fun": A Scientific Study

Being A Woman On The Internet Is... "Fun": A Scientific Study

Emma Bostian ✨
Software Engineer, bibliophile, & cat mom
・4 min read

Note: I tried to make this post as accessible as possible, but since I wanted to block names & Twitter handles, I had to use some images. I apologize and will update the alt tag to display the tweet's content.

I've had my fair share of weird, creepy, and downright idiotic interactions on the internet. Most of the time I try to ignore them, but I thought in good spirits I would share the "fun" I go through on the world wide web. (Yes, this is satire.)

I am not saying that these types of interactions only happen to women, yet I do believe that would a man have posted the same tweet, they would not have received the same quantity of stupid messages.

No matter what I post online, it seems that people instantly flock to find fault within my words and immediately chastise me for it.

Let's delve into my super official (lol) scientific case study on "Being A Woman On The Internet." I will be using the Scientific Method.

Another note: I will be using the word men throughout this piece because in all of my time on the internet, I have had exactly one woman post a stupid response. Is this generalizing? Yeah, maybe. But seems to me to be an outlier. I am in NO way saying that only men are capable of this behavior. I'm just saying that it happens more often than not... from... men.

How ironic would it be if I got comments by men stating that I'm making generalizations, because they clearly wouldn't have read this paragraph and the irony would be seeping through the computer screen. Again, this entire article is just a joke. Okay thx that's all.

Step 1: Make An Observation

Women on the internet typically receive more idiotic comments in response to their content.

I just want to post this one tweet or blog post. Well actually, But you forgot this super small clause that clearly proves you wrong, But I like causing issues for no particular reason, Lol you probably didn’t write this, You clearly can’t take a joke

It doesn't matter what I post, I always receive a plethora of comments either trying to prove me wrong, insisting I couldn't have posted that because I'm a woman and don't understand tech, or berating me saying I'm too uptight.

Step 2: Ask A Question

Do men on the internet always look for fault within a blog post or a tweet in order to interject their personal opinions?

Step 3: Form A Hypothesis

Men on the internet, regardless of the content posted, will look for teeny tiny holes that they can poke at until they become big gaping holes that disprove the woman's point of view.

If you tweet it, they will come

Step 4: Make A Prediction

If I post a tweet claiming that I am removing social media apps from my phone, I will receive stupid comments trying to prove me wrong.

Refute all the things

Step 5: Test The Prediction

Oh the fun part. Let's jump right in.

To test my super scientific hypothesis, I posted this tweet:

And then I waited for the inevitable flood of thick-witted comments to arrive. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

I even gave the community a blaring cue that I was, in fact, using my computer. Yet some people still missed this.

Posted from the Twitter web client

And then... they started rolling in.

You are using Twitter which falls in the same category


Except Twitter


They just couldn't deduce that the internet is also available through inventions we call laptops. Okay, I thought, but that's just a couple of comments.

Until they weren't just a couple comments.

Fourteen comments later and I was starting to believe that my hypothesis was undoubtedly proven true.

14 tweets later

At one point, I had even posted a follow-up tweet stating that this imbecilic behavior was getting a bit ridiculous.

And yet... it didn't deter them. They were determined. I even started interacting with the offending parties; yes I know, "don't feed the trolls". I just couldn't help myself. I'm sarcastic, what can I say?

If you're wondering the breakdown between how many men posted responses versus women, here is my extremely legitimate quantitative data.

93 % were men and 7% were women

In my opinion, my hypothesis was proved truthful.

Conclusion

I posted this blog as a joke, because what else is there to do in these situations but get a good laugh out of it? There's no point in getting upset; it's not worth my time.

But the sad reality is that many women have this much worse than I do, and it needs to stop. If you see this type of thing happening, stand up against it. You can do so respectfully, but we must stop encouraging this incessant need to prove women wrong.

I'm not saying people can't have differing opinions, but intentionally trying to prove a woman's words as poppycock isn't cool and needs to be stopped.

Thank you for reading my satirical diary.

One does not simply post a tweet

Discussion (32)

Collapse
molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her) • Edited

This happened to me yesterday! But then something very nice and unexpected happened, a gentleman stepped in and called out the guy who was being a jerk!

We need more guys like this! Hang in there Emma! 🤗

Collapse
somedood profile image
Basti Ortiz • Edited

On behalf of all the gentlemen out there, we apologize that you have to go through our toxicity every day. It is extremely frustrating how some of us do our best to treat everyone right, while there are others who paint a bad picture of us for whatever reason.

Thanks for sharing this. I just can't understand why there is even a stigma around women in the tech industry. It's unbelievable! It's 2019, people! We have to get our act together.

Collapse
emmabostian profile image
Emma Bostian ✨ Author

I am simultaneously surrounded by so many incredible men; I don't take that for granted! I just wish that these things weren't still an issue.

Collapse
elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks • Edited

You can upgrade this experiment to a scientific one by trying the same with an account operated by a man, and one operated by somebody whose sex cannot be determined. I think you will probably get a similar results. As in, mostly men responding, albeit fewer in number. The difficult part would having the same reach from those accounts.

Or maybe this one, let a male friend/colleague post a similar statement where you then respond to that he's still using twitter. I'm sure there will be plenty of people pointing out your mistake. This does require some timing though, you don't want to do this too soon.

But it is probably not really worth the effort as we all know what the outcomes will be. You can better spend the time dotting all the i's in your code.

On the internet, nobody knows you're a horse.

One thing I've observed in the past 20+ years I've been on the internet is that people have become way more public on who they are. Previously people used handles (or nicknames), so you never really knew what they were in meatspace. I think it started with Facebook requiring real names, and the easy ability to post pictures of yourself, that people on the internet became more public. We know their name, and see their face, we know their sex and race. (Rhyme not intended) And with it, the prejudice.

Collapse
bizzy237 profile image
Yury

the handle I used during the good old times of anonymity looked feminine enough for some people to assume I was a girl. don't remember them acting differently from people who thought I was a guy though except for occasional "wait, you're a dude?" every month or so but that was rather amusing

Collapse
mvoloskov profile image
Miloslav 🏳️‍🌈 🦋 Voloskov • Edited

<sarcasm>Lol, you probably didn’t write this</sarcasm>

On a serious note, I see gender inequality in the professional area pretty much every day here in Russia and find this absolutely unacceptable.

Never judged skills by gender and proud of it.

Collapse
peter profile image
Peter Kim Frank

If this is also satire, I think it's falling flat.

Whether it's your intention or not, please don't look to discount or question the reality of experience that plagues many/most women on the internet (especially in this field).

If anonymity allows these people on the internet to be "whomever they please," and they choose to be a jerk, what does that really say?

Collapse
maniflames profile image
Maniflames

The internet will always be an interesting and special place. This is on of the reasons I don't use my face as avatar on most places. Hopefully I can gather the courage kinda post stuff anyway and use my actual face.

Collapse
emmabostian profile image
Emma Bostian ✨ Author

Never be ashamed to be who you are <3

Collapse
kopseng profile image
Carl-Erik Kopseng

Every time I read something good and fun by some techie, that also happens to be female, I always cringe a little bit. Not because of the content, but because I immediately come to think of the type of experiences that will follow. And I hate that, because this actively hurts recruitment of techies with another background than my own, as everyone can see that being visible on the internet is like wading in knee deep shit if you happen to have double X chromosones.

Actively block all the shitposters, unfollow people that makes your feed hateful or resentful and keep up the good work. You're a hero for sticking in there! Looking forward to the day that won't be necessary.

Collapse
chrislutz profile image
Christian Lutz

Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, but I'm not sure about the universe yet.

Albert Einstein

Collapse
edwin_r_c profile image
Edwin Ramirez

Or what about the dude questioning if this belonged on Dev.to because it wasn't technical enough?

Collapse
bizzy237 profile image
Yury

you can always point them to a dozen of non-technical articles written by men

Collapse
emmabostian profile image
Emma Bostian ✨ Author

Yeah that bothered me.

Collapse
scottpjones profile image
Scott P. Jones

This came up last night at a nice talk (on "soft" developer skills), where we had two great speakers (who happened to be women).
I sincerely do wish it were the case where men did not feel it were fine to speak over, interrupt, or jump in to a discussion (in person or on-line) supremely confident that they must know better (even if they prove otherwise immediately with the first thing they say!)
I love your sarcasm - I think it's one of the better ways of dealing with such behavior 😁

Collapse
maxwell_dev profile image
Max Antonucci

Responses like this continually coming from men seriously bothers me. I'm trying to do more online to respond to men giving responses like this, and also not being afraid to join in and blocking them. I don't know how much it'll help, but it's better than nothing.

Thanks for sharing your experiences on this, especially the responses you gave to the mansplainers in question. I know I wouldn't have the courage to respond to so many trolls as you did.

Collapse
emmabostian profile image
Emma Bostian ✨ Author

Thanks Max!

Collapse
doylecodes profile image
Ryan Doyle

As I've become more and more a part of the developer community I have been annoyed to see this happening, but also encouraged to see so many people pushing for more positive change and not accepting how things currently are. As a teacher I feel like experience a small fraction of what women experience in the workplace in the sense of often not being taken seriously in regards to my profession, or constantly questioned or treated like I don't know what I'm doing as though I am a glorified babysitter. At the same time, as one of two male teachers at my school, I often hear how I can get away with so much more that my female colleagues simply because I'm male. It's frustrating there is such a disconnect and it seems like a portion of the population still lives in the dark ages in terms of the competency and worth of women in the workplace. At the end of the day, however, it's exciting to be a part of this community because I see a lot of drive to move forward and not accept how women have been treated in the past.

Collapse
emmabostian profile image
Emma Bostian ✨ Author

Thanks Ryan!

Collapse
lexlohr profile image
Alex Lohr

Unfortunately, we won't ever know the number of men simply acknowledging the tweet in silent appreciation. I sincerely hope it is still higher than that of the trolls you were baiting, but I'm not as deluded as to think it actually is.

Collapse
lankydandev profile image
Dan Newton

I actually read that tweet yesterday since I was considering if I should do the same thing. Saw how many comments there were and went to see if other people thought it would help with my concentration.

Unfortunately, although I guess the post was slightly made up anyway, the comments really weren't what I expected 😣.

You must be doing something right since I keep seeing your name here and on twitter without me even following you (might change).

TLDR - sorry this happens and to a lot of women as well, but keep up with the good work and the same to any one else reading this 👍👍.

Collapse
syntaxseed profile image
SyntaxSeed (Sherri W)

This post is funny... but heart wrenching because it's true. I don't blame you for your sarcastic post - we have to vent sometimes.

I've tossed & turned between having my identity & gender apparent or not on my tech-focused media & blog. Do I hide behind the ambiguous 'SyntaxSeed' or add my name & photo? The gamergate crap scares me too.

Women like you & several others I follow in the PHP & webdev communities have inspired me to be myself & not hide. I think the more we can step up & be vocal about the tech stuff we love, the more we can affect change.

A side note: the logic of the hostility toward women in tech & gaming blows my mind. Do these dudes not realize how great it would be to share your passions with more people? Heck- my husband is non-technical... and that's unfortunate. LOL

Anyway, thanks for braving the trolls, it is truly making a difference & inspiring other women. 😊

Collapse
donnacamos profile image
Donna Amos

I saw this, had a good laugh and moved on. I didn't even notice it was mostly men or there were that many comments on the same thing. 😂 Kudos to you for laughing it off. Enjoy your freedom of a social medialess phone. This sounds like a good idea.

Collapse
gabeguz profile image
Gabriel Guzman

Hey Emma, keep fighting the good fight. I enjoy reading your articles and find your contributions meaningful. Thanks for doing it, despite the annoyances of dealing with men on the internet.

Collapse
lexswed profile image
Lex Swed • Edited

I think this post is also here just to prove that men tend to find wrong in women's words. Otherwise, if we really gonna solve the problem of men behaviour, we need proper methods. Pointing out to a shitty comments in Twitter makes all your men followers feel guilty, while those who are similar kind to those commentators either ignore the post with "nah" or gonna write that your research is bullshit. we're tech people and not psychologists to solve the issue, but we can at least try to do things better. if a person don't know how to behave in 2019 then we should understand how to make the person think differently. proving to the person he is wrong is not the same as educating.
Michiel Hendriks wrote an amazing comment on how to make your post better. He didn't say "hey there are more men in tech and hence your tweet noticed more men and hence you just overreact". He proposed a way to educate.

Collapse
stereobooster profile image
stereobooster

That sucks :sigh:

Collapse
lauragift21 profile image
Gift Egwuenu

Haha this is hilarious!! I can't imagine what you have to deal with every day on social media with all these trolls coming for you. sending all the love❤️❤️❤️

Collapse
emmabostian profile image
Emma Bostian ✨ Author

Hehe thanks lady! :)

Collapse
pavlosisaris profile image
Paul Isaris

The force is strong with the trolls...

Collapse
johnkazer profile image
John Kazer

An example from astrophysics foxnews.com/science/internet-troll...