In my younger years, when I talked to less people and entertained myself by walking around my town, I used to wonder if I ever came up in conversations I would never hear with people I didn’t associate with. This was not too long before literally everyone had a smartphone. In the years following I have a social media presence. I probably post on social media a few times a week, whether by me actually posting or sharing something, between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and this blog. Because of this, I imagine it’s something of an infinite-monkeys-with-infinite-typewriters scenario, and there is a more than likely chance that something I have posted has been screencapped by someone, and they have sent it to their friends. Maybe they liked what I said, or maybe they think I’m naïve. Maybe they like me or maybe they don’t, and everything I add to the Socialsphere adds to their derision. I think most people, whether they know it or not, exist as a screenshot on someone’s phone, as a brief topic in someone’s messages. And maybe it is flattering to you or maybe it isn’t, and there’s something terrifying about that.
Go up to ten people and ask them what they think of Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Miley Cyrus, or any relevant uber famous person in pop culture. I would bet that most of these people will say something like “ugh, they’re terrible people”, “how are they famous?” “They’re all so stupid” and a myriad of complaints, some so vile I don’t think I could type them.
To quote Papa Gatsby out of context,
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” … “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
Over the weekend, I was complaining about work as I always do. I went into detail of the people I work with. I got to the one person (who shall remain nameless) and was asked the question “Does he play sports?” I answered the question with “No, he doesn’t look like the type…” I proceeded to leave the room we were in, kicking and scolding myself.
If you don’t know me, let me give you a brief description of myself. I am about 5’10”, roughly 155 lbs so I’m average height but appear a bit lanky. I have brown (some would argue strawberry blond) hair and I wear glasses. Now I should probably explain why I seem to be overreacting to a misworded sentence I said once.
No one believes I can play sports.
Okay, admittedly that is hyperbole but to an extent it is true. I’ve had numerous people come up to me and straight up say “Wow. I didn’t think you could do anything.” I’m no Olympic athlete but I do my best to encompass myself in athletics year round. In my summers, I play competitive Wiffle Ball. On summer evenings, I play Ultimate (also called Ultimate Frisbee). During the school year, I took Squash classes and made it a point to play at least weekly. This past December, I played in my friend’s third annual football bowl (winning 80-0).
This happened in the vein of intelligence as well. I distinctly recall shocking a camp counselor because I won a game of Scrabble when I was 17. I will admit I am not really smart. There is a great quantity of things I do not know and will probably never know. Ancora Imparo. However, I like to think that I am smart enough for it to not be a shock to people around me. I make it sound like I am a Rainman/Forrest Gump hybrid.
To get to my (loose) point, how could I generalize a person when I have felt generalized myself? The “guilty until proven innocent” way simply doesn’t work and is perpetuated in minor instances such as this all the way to the global scale. I could probably go on Facebook right now and find a status from someone saying “Woman, make me a sandwich.” On the other hand, I can also find a status saying “All men are pigs.” I could go down to Wal-Mart and watch a white couple turn their noses at the black people shopping there. Conversely, I could probably find a black family there chastising an obese woman on an electric cart. This trickledown effect continues until everyone hates everyone else. It doesn’t have to be this way. Men don’t suck, Women don’t suck, White people don’t suck, Black people don’t suck, Fat people, Hispanics, Gays, etc. People suck and we all deserve the chance to be treated as if we don’t.