Having opinions about people — a topic that has been on my mind recently.
People often have opinions about other people. Like what they just did was rude. What a jerk! Etc. I often don’t have the same type of knee jerk reactions, because for me there’s a wider perspective and context.
Let’s use an example: my accountant doesn’t say hello or goodbye. He just gives you the numbers and hangs up. Others might call this rude but I call it sensible and economical – he saves several seconds each phone call by doing this. Add that together and you have a lot of time saved on the job. People might think it’s funny that he doesn’t know how to “human,” but I disagree. He “humans” by making a living and setting his own terms.
We live in a society where it is considered normal to watch tv, smoke, get drunk, have several kids we can’t afford. So in order to have a negative opinion about someone who hangs up the phone too fast, a lot of presumptions need to be made about my mindset. For me to hone in on someone who is doing something you don’t see every day, and say that it’s “rude,” I’d have to start with the basic premise that the things people do every day are “not rude,” or, “compassionate.” Smoking is not compassionate to anyone in the room. Drinking is not compassionate toward your loved ones. Watching tv is a waste of life and it makes ones’ skills at “humans” much weaker, as it subtracts time that could be spent talking to people face to face.
So for me to make snap judgments about people, let’s put this in perspective.
A guy is defensive on the internet. What a jerk! I should hate this moron! Ok, hold up: We are all reading posts on the internet rather than doing something productive. Let’s start with this basic premise and sit with it for a moment before continuing to spout accusations. “I am here on the internet reading a complete stranger’s post and reacting to it without seeing his facial expression.” Fact. I sit with that fact.
This is not a lecture on judgment. I really don’t give a shit. If I hate someone at first sight then so be it. Nobody deserves a second chance, the benefit of the doubt or anything else. I have no guilt about how I do or don’t feel about someone.
But in order to jump to the kind of snap judgments people often expect, a lot of pre-determined premises have to be established. For instance, before I can say it’s rude that someone didn’t say hi, I need to agree that saying ‘hi’ is productive, genuine, worthwhile, etc. And in many cases I don’t believe that these social rules ARE productive, genuine, worthwhile…. in many cases I don’t see the point of them. So, while I may engage them myself in order to save myself from potentially annoying consequences, I won’t judge someone negatively for shunning them.
I have a deeply personal perspective on things and in order to agree, or disagree, with people’s snap judgments of others, I would have to accept the basic premises that the things they are judging are relevant in the first place. This is not about kindness or compassion, it’s about perspective and frankly, self-absorption. I’m more concerned with evaluating my own merit because I’m the only person I can control.