DEER IN HEADLINES
By Gery L. Deer
From the earliest of ages most people are taught not to judge the proverbial book by its cover. But, contrary to that advice, we all tend to treat people like the clothes they wear, even though we only see what they show us.
Each of us is judged every day by our friends, employers, customers, even those on the street who we don’t know. We are judged because of height, weight, hair color, skin color, clothes, shoes, the car we drive, what kind of dog we have and, especially during this election season, our political views.
Sometimes these assessments are socially motivated. If you are active in a particular political, social or economic circle, your sociopolitical survival may dependent solely on the perceptions of others. Your clothing, how you walk, how you speak and even the color of your eyes can affect whether people accept you into their clique.
Still, while most of us avoid calling such critical attention to ourselves, some people crave it or are naturally argumentative, choosing instead to invite a challenge to their choices. When you put a bumper sticker on your car or dye your hair blue, for example, the purpose for doing so couldn’t be clearer – you are trying to get a reaction from people.
Naturally, someone is reading this saying, “No, that’s wrong! I’m exercising my freedom of expression.” A valid point; but we express things so that people will hear us, otherwise why bother? So again, whatever the motivation, you’re seeking the attention and someone will be judging you for it.
Now, in an era of high-tech surveillance, even more people are watching and judging us. For those who actually thrive on such attention, reality television has set an unprecedented tone of exposing the worst in people.
Exposure seems to be the operative word here, with TV shows that exploit virtually anyone all in the name of ratings. Cable television, once dedicated to entertainment and news, now specializes in parading before us a sideshow that would have embarrassed even the likes of P.T. Barnum.
From little people and hyper-religious families with dozens of children to hog-hunting hill folk and spray-tanned uber-rich housewives, producers jockey for best train wreck for prime time. Why? Networks are raking in the advertising cash by feeding on the voyeuristic, excessively judgmental nature of the American public.
People think it’s fun to watch and criticize those who have willingly thrown themselves out there to be fed upon by the vultures in the viewing audience. All of this comes from our inherent tendency towards prejudice and the underlying critical nature of humanity.
Something worth mentioning is that as I was writing this, I realized I had used the word “judgment” or “judge” more than I normally would in one essay. Reviewing several online thesauruses, I discovered there were no direct synonyms for the word “judgment” when it applies to forming an opinion or condemning someone based on personal opinion. It was the only word that fit. How’s that for a narrow-minded reality?
In the end we’re all judged and we all do the same to others. We might not act on those opinions, but we certainly have them. It’s a fact of society, and always has been. A person in a business suit will likely be treated differently than someone in dirty, torn jeans and a t-shirt. As inaccurate as it might be sometimes, people treat you like the clothes you wear.
Remember also, that all of this depends on your point of view, like the car missing two hubcaps on one side. If the observer is looking at the side of the car where the wheels are still covered, what difference does it make?