Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Buzz Words

Buzz words are frequently created that sweep across the nation and tend to get folks hot and bothered. Action committees are formed, laws are passed, people are shown the error of their ways, and society gradually makes changes. The current hot topic buzz word is "bullying". When I was a kid, what is now termed bullying, was viewed as a natural method to toughen kids up, to help them develop the skills to be able to stand up for themselves. Now even the slightest hint or allegation of bullying can bring an entire organization to their knees.

A few years ago, the buzz word du jour was "profiling". Profiling refers to using the nominal characteristics of a group of people to make generalizations about an individual. Typically this was based on ethnic stereotypes. Profiling as a practice bubbled up into the national consciousness when law enforcement was found to be systematically targeting minorities for investigation of possible criminal activity. However, profiling is a more general action of acting toward someone based on our preconcieved notions and biases.

As much as I wish that I could pretend that I don't profile others, I must confess that this is a constant struggle with me.
  • I tend to avert my eyes when passing by a homeless person on the street.
  • I become more aware of my surroundings when I am in the presence of minorities.
  • I can be dismissive toward those who are not particularly intelligent.
  • I have been known to be disrespectful toward unattractive females.
  • I draw conclusions about others because of how they dress.
It is easy to consider that my thoughts are not that big of a deal, to dismiss my bigotry and judgments as not hurting anyone else. However, I have seen more than a few instances where even when I didn't say a thing, my opinions were still transmitted to those around me and noticeably affected their behavior and attitude toward another. It's almost like my cloud of buzzing negativity infected them.