When meeting someone new, how long does it take for you to decide whether or not you want to know more about them? Five, ten or even twenty minutes? First impressions count for reasons we may not want to admit; interactions between people are highly superficial.
I am not positive if we are socialized this way or it’s instinctual. Maybe its some type of a desperate ode to the survival of the fittest. It is easy to get caught up in the semantics of it all. Who are you? What do you do? What have you done? Never realizing that we are weaponizing triumphs and failures against each other.
Learning these facts about someone else, aid in the stuffing of their entire existence into a category. Often times getting out of these assigned seats leaves someone subject to being criticized and even shamed. An example: celebrities have no place in contributing anything useful to society other than what their brand peddles.
One aspect of someone’s life is just that — one. Defining someone by arbitrary things and then punishing them when other parts are revealed, is too common. Reputations are built on this exact premise. One must exude perfection 24/7 without skipping a beat. We all have come to expect it.
The life of a person is made up of many complex factors. The different parts of you are allowed to live separately but in the same place. The pressure that we put on one another to uphold these ridiculous expectations is unrealistic.
I always find myself coming back to the line in the animated movie Shrek, where he tells Donkey that ‘ogres are made of layers’. Donkey misses the point completely but that line always resonated with me. Many times we’re so busy trying to sell our identities to people that we fool ourselves; falsely correlating to things that we aspire to be — not necessarily to who we are.
Then consequently, we apply the same rules to anyone who crosses our path. Are we buying what they are selling? If so, that’s the version of that must upheld. The cycle repeats and continues to breed superficiality. Society is robbing itself of deep and meaningful connections in the name of vanity.
This post originally appeared on Medium.