In every day life, we perceive people, things and events in a certain way. Whilst we may think of something as unpleasant, uninteresting or insignificant, we may view other things as extremely positive, pleasant or inspiring. Just because we perceive certain elements of life one way, that doesn’t mean that said fragment of our consciousness will come across the same to others. Everything is relative and initially, everyone is more subjective than objective. Every individual lives in their own illusion, so to say.
1. First Impressions
First impressions can either leave you with a pleasant impression or a negative feeling in your gut. Although first impressions mean a lot, they can heavily influence your future interaction with a person. If the first impression is a good one, that’s great. But it can also influence your future behaviour to become extremely subjective and biased. Starstruck by their elevated greatness, you are less likely to be critical of a person’s complexity. Being blind to someone’s flaws can make you vulnerable to being subtly yet critically manipulated by them.
Bad first impressions can be equally problematic. If you start out disliking someone or something, you’re likely to ignore any positive aspects to their personality in the future. Your negative stance toward something will, so to say, keep you from wanting to gain a deeper insight, which may have more good things to offer than you first expected. Closing yourself off from people based on a single first encounter can negatively impact your social or even professional life.
2. Later down the rabbit hole
Let’s say your first impression was a good one. Yay! It may be a star you look up to or a teacher at school you admire. However, be warned that the further you idolise a person, the higher the risk of being disappointed somewhere down the line. A harsh extreme would be fan-culture: A hardcore fan devotes their entire time and passion to their idol and experiences the thrill of worshipping said idol in an almost trance-like state. Should the idol fail them, however, the entire fan-idol dynamic is disrupted, leaving the fan disillusioned and void. If you start to identify yourself via someone else, you not only devalue your own complex personality, but you also risk feeling identity-less once you take off your heart-shaped glasses.
Similarly, an originally bad impression you may have had of someone can backfire on you. Let’s say you initially disliked someone and continued to make dismissive comments about the person. But suddenly, you realise that the person has just been phrasing their opinions poorly. Or there was some sort of miscommunication between you too. The anxiety you will feel once you realise you’ve been trash-talking an actually-super-sweet person can hit you. Hard. Of course, this won’t apply to horrible people who just straight-up act like jerks 24/7. Still, it is never a good idea to openly bash someone you disagree with. In the end, the person who once spread so much negativity will be remembered for their bitterness even if it’s long in the past.
3. How to avoid it
Yes, it’s hard not to fangirl/fanboy about something once you first find something worthy of dedicating your thoughts and time to. But it’s always a clever step to try and be as objective as possible. Why does this person seem so awesome at first? Is their charisma natural or are they good at faking a certain charm to follow a potential agenda? The key to being a critical thinker is not only to doubt what seems to be off anyway, but to question something harmless just the same.
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