When we meet someone for the first time, we immediately ask what they do for a living. We have been conditioned to do so. Since we spend the majority of our hours in a day doing work, it makes perfect sense. Rarely what we do describes a large chunk of our character though, or even an insight into our personality traits. Sometimes it might, like if a person works for a non-profit replacing female vets into the workforce; we may presume this person has a good character. But other times, even if what we are doing is something we are really passionate about, it is only one layer of our self.
On social networks, we can express only what we want and show only the aspects of our selves we choose. I see your profile, I read your description, I browse your comments… and over time I begin to form an outline of something that could define you. But even still, it is only my perception; and perceptions are just that.
This being said, coupled with the latest tragedy in the news over the Trayvon Martin shooting, we are all guilty of profiling. It is an involuntary reaction to form a first impression. It is primitively ingrained for survival; even if we are evolved and intellectually honest, we still use these impressions to form our world, makes generalities, and make immediate decisions.
Of course, no person is one-dimensional. We are deeper than the image we project. We are more than the neighborhood we live in or the clothes we wear. We are not just our jobs nor are we even our talents. Having any job doesn’t mean that’s what you want to do or want it to define you; just as clearly as having a talent doesn’t make one inherently talented. It could’ve taken 15 years to make that look effortless!
As far as being reactionary, an example is when an actor or musician has a political opinion. We associate them with their art. And anything beyond that is another impression of them that we hadn’t already formed. Wouldn’t you be offended if someone told you your values, views, morals, or perspectives aren’t relevant outside of your job! Let it be…
Even though we are the sum of our parts, the truth is, only small bits of ourselves are projected. And very few people get to know all the layers. Our boss knows our job self, our kids see the disciplinary parent, our friends know a different intimacy than our romantic partners. So if we know inherently how many layers there are for just being human, we can safely assume, each and every one of us is similar in this regard.
No one has met anyone like you. And I can barely wrap my mind around all of you I’ve gotten to know through Twitter. I have been involved with it for 3 years, and Im still humbled weekly: by how much you share, by how much you teach me, and by how genuine some of your friendships have become.
Twitter has been so uplifting to my life, expansive, educating, and diversifying. And because it is so prolific, it is a great medium for learning the fine art of keeping an open mind, which as we see tragically, we all still need.