Break through stereotypes

By Joshua Elmore

Intuition tells us that opinion comes from experience. However, much of what anyone believes is usually based on assumptions.

As humans we may thread together a set of beliefs from a single experience. Those beliefs contribute to a frame of mind which seeks support for its conclusion.

Superstition is a perfect example.

If you were scratching your head the last time Pablo Sandoval hit a home run and you believed your scratching was the reason for his hit, you may seem to have fleas the next time he’s up at bat.

But it is often useful to base beliefs on experience. For instance, if you got sick the first time you ate shellfish, you may avoid it all together.

The problem is when judgment based on first-time experiences extends beyond the simple things.

Identifying with a group automatically feeds stereotypes. In American society we all must wear clothes. We could be considered “the clothed group.”

Those who may not wear clothes, “the naked group,” would be considered odd and therefore bad by current social expectations.

The goal should be to break down expectations. When we hastily arrive at conclusions about other people, our social environment deteriorates.

Humans also develop social misconceptions through secondary experience which contributes to prejudice.

Character depictions are a perfect example of this. Every reality show on television serves as a subconscious benchmark for what to expect culturally from a given region.

Buckwild, an MTV show, depicts young adults in West Virginia embracing stereotypical country situations.

“Can we use this dump truck as, like, a swimming pool?” Buckwild’s now-deceased star Shane Gaindee said, giving viewers a literal example of a trashy lifestyle.

Many relationships never occur because of predeterminations we make from television’s second-hand “experience.” This infects our society and leads to a polarization based on falsity.

Most social situations are unique to the dynamic between those participating within a context for social exchange.

We’re all different and that should be considered before being judged.

We find comfort and ease around those with whom we can relate, but very little is learned when we are comfortable. Growth occurs when you move beyond flocking with your own feather.

We must abandon our assumptions, defy our biology and increase our acceptance of those different from ourselves.

It is only rational to embrace alternatives when great access to information exists. The global mindset will be part of humanity’s future. The sooner we accept each other, the better off we will be.

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