Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why Am I Prejudiced?


I met him at Tweet Up in Chennai. There he was sitting by the side of me. In a grey T-shirt and jean. Tall. There was something very striking. I didn't like the way he looked. He reminded me some rock band member. He had a goatee which was tied up, quite fashionably, at the end. And maybe because I don't have a very positive image about rockstars or probably because I feel inferior, I made up my mind about this fellow.

Then slowly the introductions happened. Kiruba started introducing Sandhosh to us. And then my prejudices about this goatee-man drastically altered.

Sandhosh is based out of Singapore and has taken up mountaineering to promote the awareness on Child Abuse. Young software professional could have made loads and loads of money, but decided to follow his heart. Sandhosh soon will be climbing the highest peak in the world - The Mt. Everest. He enthralled the small gathering of Tweeples with his story and tidbits on his training to climb mountains. It was inspirational and touching.

Goutam Vasudev Menon's movies have a cult following in Tamil Nadu, at least in the A centers. He makes movies where performances are subtle and songs are super hit. The story usually is thin but the screen play is great. His latest flick is a romantic love story - Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaya. Well, normally I would have rushed and watched this one, too. But the thought of watching Little Super Star - Simbu – was abhorring.


Do I know him? No. I haven't even watched a movie starring him. The little bit I have seen on TV, he comes across as an arrogant and an irritating bragger. But I must admit that I have seen Simbu, in person. I do not have any bad experience in dealing with him. Actually, I have never interacted with him.

So why is it that I feel so strongly about people with whom I haven't even interacted? Though, let me clarify that it is not always a negative feel.

What is responsible for such behavior of ours, actually, sits on our shoulders. Yes, the grey matter. The Brain! While it's our well developed brain's ability that differentiates us from the other animal kind, it is also the reason for many follies that we commit.

Due to our upbringing and experiences, our brain is automated to make decisions on the 'empirical' data. We have been always taught to find patterns and make decisions. This behavior does help human beings because it makes decision making easy. It is called the experience.

Malcolm Gladwell's Blink is all about it. The book makes an interesting read.

But then such experiences, as I have mentioned above, do cloud our decision making.

If I hadn't heard about Sandhosh more, I would have carried my perceptions for eternity. Maybe if I see Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya, I might change my extremely negative thoughts about Simbu. After all, he is a very talented person.

But as it is often said in Public Relations, one's perception is one's reality. We often do not have the time or inclination to go beyond our perceptions. We are not willing to accept that there could be something different than our thoughts.

Would there be a better world, if we do so?
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