So I was on the subway the other day, on my way into town to work a shift on a new job as a wardrobe girl at the house of Dance in Stockholm. I forgot to bring a book and my iPod was out of battery so I just sat staring out the window pretending to ignore people, as it is polite to do when you’re squished into a small space with complete strangers. A stop some 10 minutes from where I was getting off these two guys got on. I didn’t look up but they sat down next to me and continued their ongoing conversation. “I just can’t watch a movie with my girlfriend. She watches the crap on channel 5 and she can’t focus on anything. Now when you’re watching that mindless junk and zone out for a bit you can just come right back and not miss a thing, but when we’re watching movies and she does that she misses the entire plot and just doesn’t understand anything.” “Yeah man, I hear you, my girlfriend’s the same. She just doesn’t understand the plot.”
I felt like agreeing with them. I myself have a tendency to be so into a movie I watch that I oftentimes comment too often or make exclamations regarding this or that. It doesn’t have anything to do with too little engagement but rather too much, and it must be very annoying for people who like to watch a movie in silence. But then the guy who sat across from me said “Yeah, she watches crap like Mad Men. I’ve heard it’s some kind of 50ies show and it’s just popular because one of the actresses has big boobs.” I froze in my seat and took some deep breaths. I haven’t seen Mad Men myself but I have read and heard enough to know that it’s gotten several awards (checking imdb here it’s a total of 56 awards out of 116 nominations, 4 out of those Golden Globe awards, 4 Emmy’s, countless this-or-that-Guild award, need I go on?). Now. When the people who are qualified to nominate and award tv-shows do so and select them the best out of all the other nominees, that tends to count for something.
Basically this – now douche to me – man was saying that because he had heard – from an unspecified source, probably another douche friend – that Mad Men was not worth watching, he wasn’t going to watch it, but was going to inform other people of how bad the show was. I was flabbergasted. Because it struck me just how often people do this very thing. We judge before we have anything to go on, judge instantly and without hesitation, without even noticing we do, and then we go on to inform the world about this personal opinion as if it was some kind of general truth. What? WHAT? I wanted to punch the guy right then and there, and tell him that I felt bad for his girlfriend that she was dating a guy who was not only pretentious but amazingly biased and misinformed. For God’s sake people, if you’re going to be pretentious then at least be pretentious about something you actually know a lot about!!!!!
So there I was, fuming with rage over something that happens so very often. Instead of taking our time to think for ourselves, to asses the situation, to gather all the facts and look at something before we dismiss it as irrelevant, bad, wrong, cruel and so on, we just instantly jump to conclusions… and then stick with them! We’ll listen to other people’s values and opinions as if they were actual facts and truths, and as I think I’ve pointed out before, truth is relative! It is this kind of ignorance and split-second judgement that makes things such a discrimination based on ethnic or social background, age, sex, sexual preferences and religion possible. This is why we will never have peace and harmony, because we only say “we are different” and not “we are different and so what?” or “we are different, how great, imagine the possibilities!”
One of the main reasons people tend to jump to conclusions so very fast is because we hold our own intellect and intelligence in too high a regard. Even people who claim to think of themselves as stupid or of less than average intelligence do this. It’s inevitable, because if we constantly doubt our judgement and our system of values we can’t get out of bed in the morning, or breathe, for fear of there being something wrong with that. So of course, for the sake of survival, people must be able to make split-second decisions and judgement-calls. It makes sense. But when such a thing isn’t a necessity, why don’t we take some more time to actually look into something before we dismiss it? To have more than just a few facts about a person before we decide who they are? To learn some more about a situation before you judge the people who are in it?
I am as guilty of this as anyone. In most cases, we’ll only ever refrain from judging if we’ve been in a similar kind of situation as the one under scrutiny. But what if we stop for a few seconds before we go bad/good, wrong/right, pretty/ugly, true/false, just stop for a few more seconds, think “hey, do I know enough about this to make a proper judgement?” or “could I have done that had I been in that persons situation?” and then maybe, somewhere along the line, the world will just be a little bit brighter, a little bit smarter, and a little less judgemental. I don’t say this often but Jesus, if that was you in the Bible with the no-casting-of-stones scenario, then kudos, and nicely done.