Wednesday, May 14, 2008

When You Don't Know What You Think You Know

Hurray! AW Blog Chain made it here! Looks like Terri in NYC went from travel to her journals from when she volunteered in India, and ended up relating an episode where she didn't know what she thought she knew about a man who helped her when she was lost.

Sounds like a good place to start.

Everyone starts off with first impressions. Some people, like my husband, are so accurate with their first impressions of other people that it makes me want to kick something.

"He's an asshole, Celina. Boot him out."

"I can't boot him out, Shannon; he's just sitting there drinking."

Fast forward to ten minutes later.

Shannon: "I told you to boot him out."

Celina: "How was I supposed to know he'd put a chair through the jukebox?"

So annoying. Here's my question: what happens if you don't know what you think you know? What if the assumptions you make about a person, a story, an entity, a governmental policy--what if those assumptions are wrong? Are you big enough to admit it?

I'm usually not. *shrug* Of course, maybe that's what I want you to think. I could be fibbing. *snerk* Okay, getting serious now.

I've been known to admit that I was wrong. I admitted I was wrong to my daughter when the only boyfriend she's ever had that I wasn't tempted to ram his head through drywall turned out to be a bigger jerk than the other assholes. I admitted I was wrong about a novel I wrote a long time ago--but that took distance and time before I was willing to trunk it. I think I even admitted to misquoting someone the other day online--I'd substituted an 'a' for a 'the.'

If I can do it, anyone can.

If, specifically, you're making assumption about people online--you're doing yourself an inservice. In this blog, for example, I let you know what I want you to know--no more, no less. You know nothing about the few redeeming qualities I have as a human being in real life unless I give you a glimpse in. I think it's probably safe to say that most of you reading this now don't know who I'm going to vote for for President, what I think of yesterday's oil reserve vote in the Senate, who I'm for in the Stanley Cup, or probably even what color my hair is, right?

You know what I want you to know; if I don't tell you, then you don't know squat. I've seen a lot of people make assumptions, one way or the other, about people they meet online. With one extreme, it's dangerous. With the other extreme, you look like a jerk. Try to keep some perspective.

And if you're calling someone names, attributing things to them publicly on a message board, you might be surprised to discover that you had no clue who you were talking to. Makes you look like an idiot.

Trust me.

And so the blog chain moves on. Next up is Rotating Bear.

Auria Cortes

Life in Scribbletown

Polyamory From the Inside Out

For the First Time

Family On Bikes

Writes in the City

Elf Killing and Other Hobbies

Rotating Bear

Fantastical Imagination

Asian Business

Spittin' (Out Words) Like a Llama

As Yet Untitled

Mad Scientist Matt's Lair




polyspace said...

I am a pretty good judge, probably like your husband. I can usually meet someone online and know instantly whether I want to talk to them or not. The few times I have gone against that instinct, I have regretted it. That said, I am careful anyway. :)

WendyCinNYC said...

I usually have pretty good instincts, but I've been known to misjudge people a time or two. I'll admit right away when I'm wrong, fess up, and apologize.

Razib Ahmed said...

6 years ago, I used to chat with people from different countries. Well, I guess that Internet is much safer for men than women (no offense to anyone). After 5-6 months of chatting with many people, I found the woman who later became my wife. I started chatting with her only and lost interest to have conversation with unknown people.

familyonbikes said...

I'll admit that I'm sometimes a poor judge of character - I'm way too trusting. My husband, on the other hand, is like Shannon - he can tell right away if he will get along with that person or not. Wish I was like that - it would have saved me quite a bit of grief in my lifetime!

Laurie Ashton said...

I'm a terrible judge of people on first meeting them. Wish I were better, but I'm not. The husband, though, is bang on. Well, he's bang on accurate with plots and characters from books, movies, and whatnot as well, so this is no big surprise.

And yet, despite my awful judge of character, like Razib, I still met my husband online and married him anyway, so I can't be all bad, can I?

colbymarshall said...

I like to think I'm a good judge of character, but I can definitely admit when I'm wrong. And I have been wrong quite a few more times than I'd like to admit. :-)

Donna said...

I also like to think I'm a decent judge of character but I'm human and I've been wrong. I tend to go against my gut a lot which does me a huge disservice.

auria cortes said...

I hold everyone to the same standard when I meet them.

I don't trust anyone until I'm given a reason to.

Mad Scientist Matt said...

Interesting - in my marriage, my wife's the better one at first impressions.

Snowflake said...

I love to judge at first glance. I always do it. I judge you in like 5 seconds. But I keep it to myself, usually at least and I wait. And only when I'm sure I was right I'd make a move on it. I'm rarely wrong btw. But when I am, oh boy, how wrong I tend to be then.

heatheraynnebrooks said...

There was a time when I thought I was a great judge of character. Now, I know that I tend to put on rosy glasses for the jerks and I am skeptical when "nice" people are nice to me. Now I'm very cautious about judging.