Forget your first impressions

Appraising someone’s appearance, experiences, and diction without getting to truly know them only establishes barriers and enforces ignorance. Illustration: Ally Rzesa / Beacon Staff

The concept of a first impression boggles me. A smidgen of evidence establishes relatively long-lasting appraisal. A quick Google search yields millions of articles stating how crucial it is to portray a prim and polished version of yourself within 30 seconds. These critical first impressions often lead to misunderstandings.

I tasted a metallic disgust after meeting my now best friend and said, “I’m not sure I vibe with her.” Now, I love her more than Dining Hall breadsticks. Yeah, I vibe with her that much.

Appraising someone’s appearance, experiences, and diction without getting to truly know them only establishes barriers and enforces ignorance. Having someone else decide what you think is a terrible feeling, especially if their impression refuses to change over time.

According to the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University, everyone possesses implicit biases and attitudes that affect their understanding of the world around them, regardless of their personal beliefs. These biases are malleable and can change gradually through persistence.

A study performed by the University of Toronto suggested people possess racial bias from infancy. Examiners showed infants a series of videos with adult women of different races looking into four different corners, occasionally showing animals as a control group. The results showed six to eight-month-old toddlers followed the gaze of women their own-race more than any other group.

This represents intragroup bias rather than racism, but shows how early prejudice develops. An instinct found in infants should cease when people are old enough to differentiate between bias and beliefs.

As someone biracial with pale, olive skin and dark, curly hair, I’ve faced this my whole life. I’ve never minded when someone asked me, “What are you?” I understand that they’re curious. The issue occurs when I respond, “I’m half Puerto Rican,” and they walk away. My ethnicity should not constitute an entire first impression. So please, grab some Windex and wipe away your first impressions. Emerson’s diverse student body—from professional magicians to nomadic campers—makes it impossible to accurately judge one another at a glance. If you assume what someone has to offer, you risk burying who they actually are.

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