We are more judgemental now than ever before. Why do we see binary – black or white – and not shades of difference? Why are we so intent on putting people into boxes and react accordingly?
The main culprit is social media. We open our Facebook feed (or Twitter, Instagram, whatever social media we use). And we’re presented with a scrollable list of posts, articles, photos, polls, questions, and links.
Social media is so fast that our brain has to make instant decisions. Neuroscience shows that our brains get addicted by the new and the novel, keeping us scrolling through, hooked into seeing the next, and the next.
On every single post we see we are asked to judge. Sometimes you judge that it doesn’t interest you – so you scroll past and onto to the next post. Do you like this? Love this? Find it funny? Find it sad? Does it make you angry or suprised? Make that judgement!
Then, we are encouraged to comment. This is your time to get your personal views across on the post. Make that judgement!
Next, you can share it – and sharing in essence is making a judgement – I liked this/loved this/found it sad, funny, made me angry/suprised. Make that judgement!
How many judgements happened in your mind the second you saw that post? And that’s just one post! If you’re on social media for an hour, you’ll be shown between 50-100 posts, maybe more, all wanting engagement – and engagement is judgement. Good or bad, it’s still judgement.
Is it any wonder that these days we have all become so judgemental? We’ve been conditioned to make judgements instantly and without much consideration. And the judgmental attitude we use on social media bleeds into the rest of our day. We become judgemental outside of social media too. At work, with friends, in our local environments. Everything is reduced to the binary, black and white, good or bad.
Social media makes us jerk, but often our speedy and thoughtless judgements turns us into jerks.
So what can we do?
I’m not going to suggest you stop using social media. After all, social media can be a force for good, in many ways. And it’s fun (in fact, my jokes are so bad they’re legendary!)
What I am asking you to do is to stop for a moment and think why this person has posted what they have. Take a deep breath. Don’t respond impulsively.
Refuse to have your strings jerked anymore.
It might be a cute video of a puppy, in which case, like or love away. A chocolate cake that makes you drool? Deserves a love emoji in anyone’s books! An image asking you to respect others, respect the environment, be considerate? Like, like like!
But what if it’s an anti-vaccination post? Or a friend sharing an article which shows they have a different opinion on something than you? A political post that you disagree with? If they show anger at someone who’s got something they haven’t? Maybe they’re trashing the repuation of a friend, or even piling in to judge someone they don’t even know?
Before judging so fast, learn to stop and ask yourself, what is going on with this person? What’s going on in their world? Seek to understand their view.
Give someone the benefit of the doubt. There must be a reason they’re doing this. Get curious. What’s going on in their life that would make them do that, believe that? Don’t jump to comment, talk to them in a private message rather than publicly calling them out.
And check your own viewpoint and perspective. How have they been formed? Are they based on facts, documents and research – or on clickbait newspaper articles or social media posts? Perhaps it’s time to actually consider how your opinions (which of course you consider to be the right ones) have been formed. It’s important to question our own beliefs and opinions, as well as other people’s.
Don’t jump to respond. Respond less. A lot less. Respond thoughtfully. And take the time to listen to other people’s opinions – you may find that they are right and you’re the one who’s wrong!
We’ve been trained by social media to be more judgemental. We can train ourselves not to be. And the world will be a kinder place when we do!