Many of us have preconceived notions about people without even getting to know them. These notions are stereotypes that we have formed over time through our experiences, and from what we have learned from the people around us. I would argue, that there is no constructive stereotype.
Take a moment and think back. Can you ever think of a time when you prejudged someone, and realized that you were wrong to have done that? I know I have before. Perhaps the reason why we are wired to do this goes back to our instincts. Naturally we want to keep ourselves safe, and therefore we will try to gauge the risk of situations we put ourselves in and those we keep around. This would apply to a particular circumstance—maybe deciding whether or not to cross the street or keep walking near a stranger that is acting suspiciously. Another reason we may be inclined to stereotype is much more shallow. Because most people have a desire for high social status (popularity), we don’t want to associate ourselves with people of lower social status (let’s not hang around with people who aren’t cool kids). While there may be a defensible case for the first scenario, I can’t fathom a reason for the second. All you do when you stereotype, is cloud your judgement from making true determinations.
When you first meet a new person, what do you think? Do you look at their clothes and try to tell whether they are rich or poor? Do you look at the color of their skin and think, “That person is (Insert ethnic group), I wouldn’t want to be seen with them”, or “I don’t like people from there.” Be honest with yourself. Even if on the surface you think you are accepting or at least tolerant of all people, you may be subconsciously judging them anyways.
My question to you would be, what does it matter? What does the color of a person’s skin have to do with who they are as a person? What does their sexual orientation, or their political views, or anything have to do with what they are as a person?
For me, when I meet new people, I try to look at them with a blank slate. I don’t think about whatever gossip I’ve heard about them—I form my own opinions based on my own experiences with them, and judge them based on their actions. The only responsible way to judge a person, is their actions. Whether they are respectful, whether they care and are good people, is how I see people. A few times friends of mine have questioned why I choose to keep some “weird people” around me. The answer to that question is that to me, any innocuous quirks they may have, don’t matter to me. What matters is that I know they are good people, and they will care about me, in the same way I care about them.
Re-posted from: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/why-stereotypes-are-never-good-thing