*I apologize in advance, today’s post is in no way related personal finance and is probably not my best work. But it’s something I thought about a handful of times yesterday and wanted your input*
Sizing people up, we all do it. I probably do it subconsciously to every person I make eye contact with. I found myself spending a good chunk of time sizing people up while I was traveling yesterday. If you ever want to people watch, an airport is probably one of the best places to do it (or a shopping mall).
When I see a young adult male with a shaved head I automatically think “He must be in the military.” I see a woman traveling alone with two kids and I think “She must have been visiting her parents.” I see the guy in the $1,000 suit that is way to nice for a plane ride and think “This guy is a tool, or a billionaire.”
I sit here writing this post wondering, Why do I do this? Do other people do this? Am I a terrible person? We’ve all heard the old adage “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” But do we really live this out? I sure as heck don’t. If there were Judgement Police, my a$$ would be sent to jail for life.
I guess the purpose of today’s short post is to serve as a reminder: Don’t be a douche bag like me and size everyone up that you meet. After all, I was wearing baggy jeans, a billabong t-shirt and vans shoes, so I’m sure people thought I was a college kid and not a very special agent 🙂
Do you find yourself doing this? Do you have any crazy stories where you thought someone was homeless, but they were totally loaded? I’m wondering if I’m weird or if this is a common theme amongst people.
I try very hard not to judge others off the bat, but human beings are pretty much programmed to do it. There's been several times I've met very, very, sweet guys who just happened to look like crazy bikers. (I also work in costuming, so sometimes I'll be talking to someone so androgynous I spend half the conversation trying to figure out which gendered pronoun to use.)
For me, I'm often judged because I look very young. Sometimes I'll have my niece with me, and people will give me dirty looks because they assume I'm an unwed teenaged mother. (I'm 26 and married.) On the other hand, sometimes I get unexpected discounts because a cashier assumes I'm a student.
It's true that you never really know about people. We used to live in upstate NY and my parent's had a friend that they always said was the richest man in the county and he wore the same overalls everyday. His church suit was a polyester one from the 70's and he had bought his truck used at an auction and then attached a 4×4 for a rear bumper as it was missing one. (He is a farmer, so the overalls aren't as crazy as they may seem.) If you saw him you wouldn't be impressed and think he was a millionaire.
Juding people is just human nature. I think it goes back to the time when we lived in caves and we had to quickly size up unknown persons to recognize if they were a threat to our survival.
I don't think we could ever stop doing it, we just need to realize that we do it and alot of the time we'll be wrong.
Can be a bit of fun people watching though and guessing what their backstory is. There's been plenty of times when I've thought a dude looks scary, covered in tatts, shaved head, piercings, but you chat to them and it turns out they're a gentle soul.
@ Frugal- It seems like everyone agrees we all do it, whether intentionally or not. I wonder how this got in to the human DNA? p.s. next time someone assumes you're an unwed mother, punch em in the face. p.p.s discounts rule!
@ Gwen- I hope when I get rich, I'm not sooo frugal that I can't afford to replace a bumper. Although, I do respect farmer dan's simple ways.
@ Josh – I have actually sat around a table with friends before and we have made guesses about what a certain person does for a living, then at the end of the night I'll ask that stranger what they do and see if anyone was right. It's pretty interesting.
I, too, am 26, married, and very young-looking. I have definitely noticed that people treat children differently than adults. Because many people take one look and think I'm a teenager, they treat me with suspicion, as if I'm about to be unruly or something. It's no fun. True story: when people think I look too young to be doing a certain activity (like seeing a rated-R movie), they actually feel it's acceptable to physically hold me back by the chest so I can show them my ID. Really, if they thought I was an adult and needed to ask me something, would they EVER think of placing their hand on my chest to do so?
I think that every social animal has the behavioral adaptation of sizing each other up. When success in life can be greatly influenced by your interactions with others, those who can size someone up accurately will be better off than those who can't.
I feel like I have the exact opposite problem– I hardly judge people by appearances, which has actually turned out to be sort of a bad thing… I am constantly and utterly confused as what to expect from people, and how they see me. I think this has happened because I don't like honestly judging/sizing up myself, like you did in the last part of the article. I need to be more judgmental!
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