We are a society that likes to generalize or stereotype human beings, and in all most every case we are just full of crap. I’ll give you a few examples:
- Older people don’t understand technology, but younger people are tech savvy.
- Baby boomers are out of touch and rigid, millennials are lazy and lack direction.
- Women with muscles are not feminine, one example of this was based on some Twitter rant about Serena Williams looking like a man. Not a man my friend, she’s hot period!
- If you have lots of money you must be very intelligent.
- As a __________ (fill in the blank) you are frugal, illegally here, good at math, highly educated, a dumb redneck, lazy, conservative, liberal, or just crazy. Go ahead depending on your bias just fill in the blank.
- She is very attractive and as such must not be very smart, probably spends all her time on her looks.
- I’m a police officer so I am naturally brutal and most likely a racist.
Couldn’t help myself, this was funny
The point here is that we make all kinds of decisions based on how we prejudge people, professions, races, genders, and generations. In fact most of the biases we have are not born by experience, but a result of the media we consume from television shows, internet news, and social media (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook). These generalizations or biases that we hold prevent us from objectively communicating with people. Do you notice that when you actually interact with different people, those biases are quickly dispelled, and instead you understand that what we are is based on who we are as an individual, not the group we are associated with.
If we could begin to interact with each other as individuals and not stereotypes we could cut through a lot of the crap. You may be black, white, asian, hispanic, male, female, old, young, slim, fat, straight, gay, attractive, or unattractive. We do each other a great disservice by putting too much emphasis on how we are categorized, before getting to know each other. Next time you meet someone, just for a while hold off on immediately type casting them as some group with fictitious characteristics; you might just be surprised to find out who they really are. Getting to know a person without immediately judging them is an incredibly useful interpersonal skill, much rarer than one would suspect. These stereotypes that we all have played a part in fostering over the years have only become barriers to communication between us.
When it comes to people, shake off your biases, stereotypes, and generalizations. Everyone benefits!