I would like to forward a hypothesis. I believe that our paradigms are formed primarily from sight. That our vision of an item or another person sets the basis from which all other assumptions and conclusions stem. Given their ability to transcend extended distances, our eyes normally create the first impression. I address, of course, sighted people. Those without the benefit of sight hone the senses of sound and touch much more acutely in identifying their environment.
I use myself as an example. The moment I see someone or something for the first time, I instantly form an opinion. In the case of it being another person, I quickly determine gender, approximate age, race, and other assorted attributes. Only then, if I engage them in conversation or overhear them talking, or shake their hand, do I add additional impressions from sound and touch. But my original impression probably remains virtually unchanged, just enhanced. If you think about it, this kind of says I’ve already decided who you are before I even meet you. Isn’t that interesting.
I am a big fan of the TV program “The Voice”, where the judges cannot see the contestants. They must only listen to them, judging their ability solely on their voice. Often, once they turn around, they comment, “I thought you were a girl” or “you don’t look anything like I expected.” What remains unspoken however is, had they known it was a guy or what the contestant looked like, would they have had the same impression of their performance. My guess is no. Many of the contestants that continue on in the show are older, some overweight, some gay, some goth, etc. They don’t really conform to the perceived parameters of today’s culture. As such, I suspect they would not even make it through the first cattle call on “American Idol.”
My point is, when you think about it, it appears, at least, that much of what we believe are opinions, preconceived before we even begin to communicate. That being the case, is it any wonder that there is so much vitriol and distrust in our world today. Should it surprise us that it is so easy to hate, given that we often don’t have a clue about the other person beyond what we think we saw.
On a much smaller scale, those of you that take the time to read this will form an opinion of me through what your eyes tell you. We have not met, or talked, but in a way, you will think you know me, even a little bit. And were we to sometime meet, you too would probably say “you don’t look anything like I expected.” You are probably thinking along the lines of Brad Pitt. Actually, I’m a little closer to Andy Rooney.