I once sat at a dinner table with a group of friends – old and new. It was a huge group, and as huge groups go, the conversations would split in different ways. The quieter guys will have a quiet conversation on serious business, like work and the news. The more flamboyant group will make loud jokes and laugh, and occasionally attract the attention of the rest of the table. Then there are the observers, the ones that do not join the conversation, but contributes laughs and applause. At this busy table I looked around and overheard an old friend telling a new friend a description of me. I listened to this. And then I realize that less than half of the description is actually true facts about me. The rest of them are, well, ideas about me.
This brought me think about how I convey my message to others. I immediately recognize that I do the same exact thing. If I wanted to describe a person to someone else, instead of telling the facts about that person, I end up telling my impression about that person. For example, a guy who plays video games is now 'the guy who doesn't leave his room ever and lives in the dark with zero social skills', and a girl with a specific taste would be 'the girl who is a downright diva, has no adaptable qualities and a hassle to travel with'. This would eventually explain why secondary information is never correct. Instead of getting facts, we get the impression on how the person looks like to another. Which isn’t right. Everybody deserves a chance to portray themselves to another person all on their own.
It’s toxic, this thing we’re doing. We talk about people based on how we feel about them, and not only is it demeaning, it’s downright unfair. As a person who’s on the listening side of things, we too are obligated to understand that there are a few sides to every story, and to only mostly believe it when we see it. But like everything else in life, lessons are best learned when the joke’s on you. I suppose listening to that conversation about me was sort of a wake up call to what I might’ve done to others, and how affected people would feel if these people had heard it themselves. I might try not to do that too much now.