When We Rush To Judgement
The more time you spend on social media, the more you see examples of it.
Someone posts a video excerpt of an altercation, or footage of someone acting a way we don’t agree with, or an article about someone making statements that don’t resonate with what we believe in.
And our tendency, our natural instinct, is to react. To make our judgement. And then to share that judgement with someone else, and someone else, and someone else. Because the emotion of the moment is hard to get past, hard to get over.
And why not? After all, we saw the footage, or read the quote from a reputable source, or we know the victim and identify with what that person believes in.
But then, as time progresses, as multiple sides voice their reactions, as more information comes to light, we find that our initial reaction wasn’t entirely merited. That perhaps there were a wider set of variables at play. That perhaps we weren’t hearing or seeing the full story. That instead - essentially - we’ve rushed to judgment.
This is pretty natural, of course - it’s hard to ignore what we directly experience with our own eyes and ears.
And social media isn’t the cause of this, either. It’s been going on since time immemorial. Social media has simply made it easier to react, to comment, to share and to retweet. Because the impulse to react emotionally is ingrained within us.
Which is all the more reason for us to step back and think, especially when we see information that elicits (or attempts to elicit) an emotional response. It’s important to step back and ask:
How objective is the source?
Do I have all of the information I need to make an evaluation?
Has sufficient time elapsed to allow alternative points of view to be aired?
Is there the potential for information to be slanted towards one viewpoint or another?
How much are my own biases/prior experiences coming into play?
What is the potential danger implicit in my own judgement i.e. who could be impacted by the implications of what has happened?
That’s not meant to be an exhaustive list, but it’s a start.
And in this age of social media, news on demand, and information overload, it’s all the more critical. The more serious the news or the allegation or the affront, the more important it becomes to wait, absorb, assess and then react.
(And the more prominent you are in your environment (e.g. senior executive, noted politician), the more you need to adhere to this advice. Wait, get all the information and then act. The implications of a misjudgment if you’re in such a role can be devastating.)
Stop. Think. Understand. Then, act.