While playing around with the General Social Survey for a class, I stumbled on a question that asks whether or not you use the world wide web to download music. This question was asked in 2000 and 2002, before iTunes was available for Windows (and even for Macs it wasn't available in 2000), so it clearly refers to using Napster and other piracy technologies. I should put the results of what I found over at my data blog, but it's too sweet not to share with the world.
Let's start with the file-sharer's self-image: he imagines himself to inhabit a dystopian world rather like the one in Blade Runner, The Matrix, or that tentacle anime that he depleted half his tissue box to. He just as often believes that he himself is being singled out for oppression as he believes that it is his entire race of subterranean mole-geeks that's being persecuted. Similarly, the source of all evil is at one moment a sprawling, faceless hive -- the Microsoft corporation, The Government -- and the next moment an individual wielding concentrated power -- Bill Gates, George Bush. You would be foolish to expect some consistency of narrative since, after all, his religious texts did not flow from the tongues of trained wisemen but were regurgitated by the teamworking four-chambered stomach of the Creative Commons.
But it's not really important who The Devil or the legions of demons are, as the cult's focus is on what role they the file-sharers play -- the rebels who will, Prometheus-like, rise up against the powers that be and deliver free information unto mankind. Back on planet Earth, we easily see the file-sharer for what he really is -- a teenager throwing a temper tantrum all because he has to cut the yard before taking his daddy's car out.
If they were truly the bold scofflaws they make themselves out to be, then they'd surely be picking up chicks left and right. The rebel archetype has an inherent sex appeal, at least to a decent number of girls.
So let's just see what the GSS tells us about the sex lives of file-sharers. (The mysteries that a little federal funding can solve...) I limited the results to males between ages 18 to 35. The pattern is clear using even younger ages, but going up to 35 gives better sample sizes.
The first graph shows that, compared to young guys who didn't illegally download music, file-sharers are much more likely to be virgins and less likely to have had several partners in the past year. The second graph looks at it in the other direction: in the sample, 100% of virgins were file-sharers, and file-sharing declined as the number of partners increased.
Strangely, all that time devoted to optimizing their piracy programs hasn't won them the outlaw appeal they were praying for. It's all obviously the work of Bill Gates and George Bush -- they've brainwashed normal girls into viewing them not as rebels but as a bunch of bratty cheapskates. It may take one thousand creepy emails, but they will ultimately lift the veil from those couple of girls who also hang out at Gamestop on Saturday night. And let's just see The Government stop that.
GSS variables used: musicget, partners, sex, age