Thursday, September 18, 2008


Walk down a city street and look at people. How often do you make judgements based on how the people you see look? On the other hand, how else do you decide who you want to meet?

I've been thinking a lot about this lately and noticing my reactions to folks I see on the streets or in the train. I've decided that making decisions on the basis of how someone looks, and picking your friends (and even lovers) on the basis of their appearance, is like deciding to drink beverages based on what the bottles look like. You could be guzzling poison out of a shiny and pretty new vessel while ignoring healthy juices and water because the jars are plain or ugly.

When I look at all these attractive people, I remind myself that it's the container that I'm drawn to. What the person looks like says nothing about their character, their values, their personality, or who they really are. If we don't know someone, all we see is the container, not the stuff inside.
I've heard lots of talk about the problems with meeting people over the internet and lots of worries about it, but I think there are ways in which it's actually better. When I find profiles of people, I don't pay a lot of attention their pictures, if they post them; I pay attention to what they say. This way I get a chance to connect with people who are interested in the things that I'm interested in, people who claim to share my values.

In a similar way, I am going to events that are about subjects that are important to me, partly as a way to meet people. I figure, if they're coming to this they are probably interested in something I'm also interested; I should talk with them and find out what else they are interested in. If we do have a lot in common, maybe I should get to know them better. And their appearance has nothing to do with any of this.

Unfortunately, I need to admit that I'm not immune to visual judgements. I find myself thinking, 'There's an interesting looking person...' before I remember that it's the container I'm looking at. I have no idea what this person is really like, what they believe, whether I would enjoy their company. None of that has anything to do with appearances.

Quote of the day: "The most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money, and the most repellent man of my acquaintance is a philanthropist who has spent nearly a quarter of a million upon the London poor." - Arthur Conan Doyle
Word (or phrase) of the day: Autopoesis
Hero(es) of the day: Robert Owen

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