Monday, November 21, 2011

The sorting hat

Often in the corporate & real world you will have to put the sorting hat on people & events to categories & classify them - is it right or wrong? 

In an era marred by different shades of black and white it would sound rhetoric if I were to say we are still typecasting everything into some prejudiced realm. Yet, from branding a man who is against following the dogmas of his religion as an atheist, to branding someone as a spendthrift because he went on an expensive vacation, till tagging someone as a supporter of one political party because he opposed the proposal of another party, we indeed are sorting everything into either this or that.

There is an innate tendency in us humans to categorize things as we observe. We keep on assessing everything, as information after information start trickling into the system, trying to figure out where to place them. We only want to assimilate the most important of information – a gist of the whole, in order to approach the data holistically. Yes, we have the inborn talent to tide things up (don’t ask how our rooms end up untidy then). But this very act to be organized leads to a lot of filtering, which eventually destroys, or in our case, forgo some valid information that sounded stupid back then. Consequentially, we come to a premature conclusion. That is why a person who follows an actor’s products diligently get called as his fan; and after branding him with that image, it becomes blasphemous when he says he didn’t like one of the actor’s film.  On the flipside, a person gets branded as ‘XYZ actor hater’ when he doesn’t like his performance in one of his movies. If someone had time to ask further, he might have said he loved his performance in some other film of his.

The reason behind these premature classifications is that, the mind gets conditioned to accept such categories as a yardstick for judging and assessing information because of the huge pool of examples supporting it. As a consequence, a man criticizing women is referred as chauvinist (& not even as male-chauvinist) and to some extent as misogynic. Such conditioned minds eventually imbibe a convoluted understanding of the events and begin to examine them through their bifurcated lens. What they see through the lens is that a pain killer is actually a pain curer because one doesn’t feel pain after having it.

As we open up to a new era, where everything from tv ads to carrier choices becomes subjective, it is important to treat every person and every event differently and uniquely and not based on past events. Because when we base our judgments on past events and principles we tend to limit ourselves to past result. After all, it is better to be an open minded person than a broad minded person.
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