RS Survey: The Results
As both Reality Sandwich and the U.S. government turn the corner toward a new era (for RS, the new era will come with the imminent release of our online social network, Evolver.net), it's time to clean up some old business. A few months ago, we asked for our readers to fill out the Reality Sandwich survey. Typically, the response to such a request is lukewarm at best; not many people actually take the time to do it. However, it's a tribute to our inspiring and dedicated community that over 1,000 of you made the effort to fill it out! We give our thanks to all of you.
We also promised to share the results. And so, better late than never, here they are. Read on to find out who your fellow RSers are, what they're into, who they'd like us to interview, and even who their heroes are. The results may (or may not) be surprising.
As mentioned in our call-out, the survey was designed to help us in developing new features like our upcoming sites, Evolver.net and Evolver Exchange, as well as to attract advertisers to the site, so that we can become a sustainable business. Its most important role, however, has been to better inform us about our community.
Nearly half of RS readers (49%) found out about the site by following the work of our editorial director, Daniel Pinchbeck. 21 percent discovered us through a link they found online, 10 percent through word-of-mouth, and 5 percent from an email link sent by a friend. In addition, over half those surveyed said they wanted to tell their friends about us! 33 percent actually said they wanted to tell "lots of people" about RS. We're thankful that so many of you feel that the material covered on the site deserves wider attention in the world. Over the past few months, we've begun some initiatives to make it easier for you to spread the word about RS, including upgrading our presence on social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. This has clearly increased visits to the site.
As for demographics, it seems like we have more males (66%) coming to RS than females (34%) -- an imbalance that doesn't surprise us, but which doesn't make us happy and which we plan to address. The age range of RS participants, however, did surprise us. We expected the largest block in the community to be 24 or under. As it turns out, that group is actually the 35-54 year-olds, who make up 35 percent of the community. 25-34 year-olds come in second at 31 percent; followed (finally) by18-24, at 20 percent; over 55, at 11 percent; and under 18, with 3 percent. The majority of participants surveyed were single (57%). 40 percent considered themselves straight, 11 percent bi, 4 percent gay, and 13 percent polyamorous. 24 percent of the readers surveyed said they are parents.
To no one's surprise, the RS community cares a lot about what they eat. The culinary breakdown showed that while 49 percent of RSers "eat anything," the majority of you either are or have been a vegetarian. 27 percent are "lapsed vegetarians," 20 percent have stuck to their vegetarianism, and 4 percent are no-nonsense vegans. As we also expected, the vast majority of you put your values ahead of cheap price tags when you make purchases. About 85 percent occasionally or regularly pay more for products that use organic materials, are made locally, have higher environmental standards, practice fair trade, and treat animals humanely.
Judging from the widely diverse professions in the survey, it seems our RS community is adept in many different skills, which may prove handy as we come together to deal with the difficult global challenges that lie ahead. The largest concentration was in media and the arts (30%), followed by education (10%), then the high tech industry (6%) and medical/health care (6%) with nonprofits and science following right on their heels. We had a diverse smattering of employment fields including construction, agriculture, finance, legal, government, service industry, manufacturing and more.
A cursory look at the write-in category for employment shows that some RSers are making the world a better place as part of their day jobs. This includes sustainable systems teachers, organic vegetarian food manufacturers, shamanic retreat coordinators, eco-conscious clothing/art designers, midwives, body workers, art educators of incarcerated teens, drug counselors, labor organizers, alternative energy pioneers, and more. Others have jobs you might not expect. We've got truck drivers, reverends and Episcopal priests, lawn equipment distributors ("Legalize suburban sheep!" they say), property tax consultants, sewer controlling systems managers, facial surgeons, property manager bookkeepers, and civil law advisers.
As for interests, music was truly the universal language for RSers, topping the charts at 81 percent. Eco-consciousness (79%), shamanism (78%), meditation (77%), peace and human rights (76%), and sustainability practices followed close behind. In the sixtieth percentile were: emerging technologies, alternative wellness, legalization of entheogens, alternative economics, environmental advocacy, and hiking and the great outdoors.
Among online social networks, RSers go to MySpace (53%), Facebook (47%), Tribe (17%), Stumble Upon (13%), Digg (10%), then Gaia (6%) with LiveJournal and de.licio.us receiving several write-ins. The Onion, Huffington Post, BoingBoing, Alternet, and Dinsinfo ranked among the top blogs or web magazines that people checked out, with The Daily Grail, Treehugger, Guerrilla News Network, and Truthout getting enough kudos to receive an honorable mention here. Popular write-ins for this category were Daily Kos, Douglas Rushkoff's blog, Common Dreams, C-Realm and The Psychedelic Salon.
The question of who people would like Reality Sandwich to interview attracted an array of interesting figures, including: Arundhati Roy, Al Gore, Ellen Page, Tom Robbins, Sting, Ken Wilbur, Daniel Quinn, Eckhart Tolle, Oliver Stone, Caroline Myss, Gloria Steinem, Bill Gates, Alan Moore, Bjork, Noam Chomsky, Wade Davis, David Wolfe, the Dalai Lama, Morgan Brent, Dennis McKenna, Rick Strassman, Rick Doblin, Peter Lamborn Wilson, David Lynch, Ram Dass, Nassim Haramein, Stanislav Grof, Deepak Chopra, Naomi Wolf, David Wilcock, Caroline Casey, Wayne Coyne, Jeremy Narby, Barbara Hand Clow, Tom Robins, Rupert Sheldrake, the Shulgins, Gary Snyder, Madonna, KRS-ONE, Rob Breszny, Prince, Starhawk, Oprah, Bob Dylan, Stanislav Grof, Bob Weir, Sigur Ross, Thomas Pynchon, Michel Gondry, even George Bush and Dick Cheney!
In the months following the survey, we have indeed published interviews with Rick Strassman and Jeremy Narby, we hosted an event with Nassim Haramein, and we posted stories by Stanislav Grof and about Rick Doblin. We hope to reach more of these figures as we move along (and if you have an interview with any of these folks you'd like us to consider, please ping us via the "Suggest a Story" link at the top of this page). However, some suggestions, such as "ghosts of dead revolutionaries," Buddha, Mohammed, Thomas Jefferson, and "a physically departed but eternally present intelligence" may be harder for us to reach. But then again... you never know. We also appreciate those who wanted to see interviews with our current RS contributors, and "the next McKennas, Burroughses, and Alan Wattses" of "current frontiers."
We also asked for you to name a hero. This question almost got pulled from the survey at the last minute, since - in this notoriously cynical, disillusioned era - sophisticates like RS readers aren't supposed to have heroes. But we went with it anyway, and the response rate was extremely high. Nearly everyone had a hero, if not more than one! The list included the expected, ever-inspirational Beats (Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, and Allen Ginsberg), as well as Sixties icons Abbie Hoffman, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia, Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, Anne Waldman, John Lennon, and Jim Morrison. The revolutionary inclination extended into the political with heroes like Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, Dennis Kucinich, Biko, Thomas Jefferson, Jon Stewart, Starhawk, Jimmy Carter, JFK, Ben Franklin, "Tank Man" of Tiananmen Square, Thomas Paine, Vaclav Havel, and Abe Lincoln.
It also delved into the visionary with Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, Socrates, Bill Hicks, Merilyn Tunneshende, Aldous Huxley, David Bowie, Carl Jung, Walt Whitman, Patti Smith, Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, Nikola Tesla, John Cassavetes, Krishnamurti, Kafka, Erik Davis, Dame Darcy, Buckminster Fuller, Wilhelm Reich, Brian Eno, William Blake, Carl Sagan, Byron Katie, Osho, and DaVinci himself. The list also veered into the mythic realms of Quetzalcoatl, Gaia, Buddha, the Virgin Mary, Optimus Prime (the old school one), Max Headroom, Anna Karina, Hermes Trismegistus, the entire collective consciousness, Jesus, and of course, "Jesus and MacGyver combined!"
The last question asked what you thought would happen in the year 2012. It turns out that 28 percent of us believe humanity will cross a threshold to a higher level of consciousness;19 percent believe something will indeed happen, though most people won't notice; 9 percent believe nothing will happen at all, and 3 percent believe all hell will break loose. But most people - 42 percent - chose "all of the above."
So that covers our first Reality Sandwich survey. Thanks to all of you who took the survey, and to all of you who continue to participate in our dynamic, growing community. And please keep on telling your friends about Reality Sandwich and what we're up to. It's our world to change, after all.