I am the type of person who cannot be within eyesight of a sign, posting, notice, billboard, book, graphitti, pamphlet without reading it. I will read the same sign over and over just because it is there. So, when riding in the car, I pay attention to what’s on the other side of the tinted glass.
We were just outside of Pittsburg and I saw a billboard that had a picture of a diamond being held by a pair of tweezers. I looked away for a second and on a closer look, I realized that I had mistaken what was truly a piece of round sushi and chopsticks for exquisite jewelry. An honest and harmless mistake.
While misidentifying images may be relatively harmless (with the minor exception of street signs while driving), when we begin to categorize and identify people based on first impressions we run serious risks.
It might have been said that first impressions are important. I’d like to add that they are wrong 95% of the time. If I can’t tell a roll of sushi apart from a diamond, then I surely can’t accurately assess someone within five minutes of knowing them. I shouldn’t be assessing them at all. Just enjoying getting to know another story and friend. Yet it is far too easy to fall into a faulty first impression judgement.
I mislabeled the billboard advertisement because I looked at it too quickly. You can’t possibly expect to know someone after a brief meeting, especially depending on the circumstance and opportunity for true conversation. I also got my diamonds and sushi confused because I had seen a billboard with tweezers and a diamond before. I wasn’t expecting to see sushi, so I fit it into a mold that I already knew.
How many times do you meet someone and say, “You are just like my friend so and so!” Or at least think it. Except they aren’t. Because they can’t be. We are who we are, nothing more and nothing less. Squeezing people into cold metal molds is great if you want a bunch of friends that are exactly who you think they should be but nothing like who they really are.
I think it’s time to get our eyes checked.