Canadian blogger and author Christian Lander started his blog, “Stuff White People Like,” as a joke among his friends, documenting the daily activities of “suburban-dwelling white people” like himself. The blog has since become famous and has been adapted to a book under the same title. Staff Writer Evan Johnson spoke with Lander about the concept behind his blog and his nationwide tour that is making a stop at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Emerson Suites.
Evan Johnson: How did you come up with the idea for “Stuff White People Like?”
Christian Lander: It would be great if I had plotted this out or had a plan, but it was just my friend Miles and I goofing around over instant messenger. Miles said he didn’t trust any white person who didn’t watch “The Wire,” and we started coming up with ideas of what white people were doing instead of watching “The Wire” — things like “going to therapy” or “doing yoga.”
EJ: How accurate is the blog?
CL: I’m making fun of myself, first and foremost, so the accuracy is pretty high in terms of how pretentious or predictable I am. The one thing that I don’t find to be particularly accurate for me, but for many white people, is any camping or outdoorsy kind of stuff because I don’t do that.
EJ: Are you still adding to your blog? How do you find things to add?
CL: I only add things when something really hits and I think is really funny. From day one, I ran every entry past my friends Miles and Shaun. They were the first people reading the blog, and [I] wanted to make them laugh. I write something and send it to them. If they think it’s funny, it goes up — if they say it’s not funny, it doesn’t. Realistically, the blog’s never going to go on forever, and there is no way to keep it at the level I want to keep it, so I update it only when I’m ready.
EJ: You’re currently on tour around the country. What has that been like?
CL: It’s been a ton of fun. I never thought I’d be able to do something like this. It’s totally incredible to go out, give a talk and make people laugh and meet everybody. It’s also fun when the students who are 21 can come out and share a drink. I did a joint show with Elon James White, who does [the Web site] “This Week in Blackness,” at the University of Washington. I think there were 3,000 students in the auditorium.
EJ: Do you think doing shows featuring “This Week in Blackness” and “Stuff White People Like” helps solve issues involving race?
CL: It’s a tough thing to talk about race, and most people are too nervous to say anything or will get accused of being racist. But if you can get someone to laugh, then they’ll really open up more, and it’s much more productive.
EJ: What can people expect when you come to Ithaca on Wednesday?
CL: It’s an interesting talk. I definitely touch on the issues of race and class, but it’s really the full story of how I started this blog that I thought would be nothing more than a way to entertain my friends and how this all happened completely by accident. It’s a pretty funny and interesting story, and none of it is embellished. It’s accidental success in the best possible way and how it can happen to anybody. I never had any powerful connections — I just got really lucky.
EJ: Do you have any advice for anyone who might be starting a blog or hopes to gain your kind of popularity?
CL: Don’t try. What I mean by that is don’t set out thinking that you’re going to be huge. If you write something that entertains you, that you love and that you believe in, people pick up on that. And provided that you start the blog with the idea that your only reward will be making a few friends laugh, that puts you in a position to have something happen.