Do You Know Me?

You know me largely because of what you already know of the world.

It starts as soon as you notice me. My looks are immediately ‘interpreted.’ Say I have a beard or have dyed my hair purple. You view me based on your view of bearded folks (hipster alert!) or people with dyed hair (art snob?).

Have you noticed how we react differently to “Good morning!” from different people? When I speak, what you hear, understand, retain and act upon, depends on what internal structure you already have on the the ‘representation most corresponding to me’. Even online and on the phone, people elicit a different reaction based on how we already perceive them or how we perceive people in similar category i.e., who look like them, do similar jobs and such.

It works both ways — how I know you is based entirely on my view of the world and of people, I perceive, to be like you. You put your best foot forward for me and I may still find it snarky, because that’s how I perceive the world.

Think of us as minions — cute with big glasses in front of our eyes. Only for us, the glasses show barely the edges of what lies in front of us.

The best way forward is to tread slowly, not jump to conclusions, trust and verify. Have the humility to know that I am as ignorant about the other as they seem to be about me.

It’s hard work.

Why would I put all that work? For every random person who I have no chance of meeting again?

The real question I ask myself is — am I putting in the hard work to really know the people I care about the most?

When I do it for them, it becomes easy. When it is easy, it is effortless to take it to everyone. Just like the beard or the purple hair.

Now that we have met — Hello!