Misconceptions from Quick Judgment
(Being quick to judge another person when you don’t really know them)
We’ve all been there. Meeting the new friend of a friend and instantly judging them at first glance, whether we mean to or not. Fitting them into their esteemed box, labeling them a stereotype, or even assuming that you have them all figured out in just the first few minutes that you’ve met. Unfortunately, judging someone comes easily to the best of us, and it comes to do more harm than good when meeting someone new.
An easy example of why we should try to avoid quick judgment is the stereotyping of a so-called “loner.” To a stranger or classmate, it is so very, very easy to immediately call the boy or girl sitting alone at lunch or not participating in school clubs weird or disinterested in those around them. It is then, undoubtedly, easy to act upon this judgment and never bother to approach them or pay them any interest when it’s possible to get to know them.
And so you may wonder, what’s the harm? You’ll never talk to this person, they’ll never talk to you, and so in the end nobody really gets hurt by those quick judgments. You figure doing nothing is better than trying to break out of this truth that you’ve created. You’ve already figured them out, there’s nothing else to know.
What you might not know is that this person might be struggling, needing someone to talk to but not finding the courage to speak up. They might be waiting for someone, anyone, to give them a chance, but they are stuck inside the label of “loner” and are unable to break out. Not only that, but you may have just lost a chance of a friendship to blossom, but were road-blocked by the idea that the person was “too-quiet.”
The Internet and social media also provide an almost too-easy outlet for people to use snap-judgment onto others. We scroll past thousands of pictures on our Instagram feeds, each tiny glimpses into our friends and family’s lives. That picture of the girl you go to school with, who you don’t really know at all, just posted a picture wearing a shirt that you think is too revealing. An instant reaction would be to come to the conclusion that she is a “slut,” or promiscuous, or easy. This snap judgment where one immediately comes to such conclusions is not only demoralizing but is extremely unfair to the person. We really know nothing more about the random people that come across on our feeds more than the next, and so by catching ourselves before we attach labels onto others, we might just become more decent human beings overall.
So you think to yourself: okay, quick judgments of others might not be the best step when first meeting someone. But how does one actually avoid this? Accepting that this is a natural occurrence is a first step; it’s all our natural instinct to base our opinions of others on our first greetings, and so accepting this allows us to concentrate on giving others their fair chances. Then catching ourselves in the act becomes easier, and so we can push ourselves to break past these assumed barriers to get to know them for who they really are and not what we perceive them to be. As we all know, our lives are much more complicated than they appear to be on the outside. If we all applied the same logic to the people surrounding us, don’t you think that the world might be a little bit kinder?
– Michelle, 17 years old
in sixth grade my teacher was realy mean and let kids talk about me. and now a bunch of them have followed me all the way to highschool and now complete strangers act as is a am there morral enemy. it makles mee feel terible what do i do
I’m so sorry that this has happened to you, and I’m glad you reached out. Sadly, there are probably many teens who feel like you do. It can be so hard when you feel like people are against you. I hope that you are able to find activities away from these people where you can feel good about yourself, and people can know you for who you are, and not who you were in 6th grade. I also hope you have some peers or adults who you can talk to. I encourage you to call in and talk with one of our teens further, or join our message boards where you can find other teens who are dealing with similar issues.