Throughout history, humans have made judgments about situations, behaviors, and other people that they encountered. The ability to judge and take appropriate action has generally benefited humans. This ability saved many lives as humans have instinctively fled an approaching wild animal or the roaring fire.
Unfortunately, there have been times when the tendency to judge has been abused. In these cases, someone with a hidden motive leads others into making connections and judgments that are not true.
Salem Witch Trials
The Salem Witch Trials are a prime example. Individuals made accusations of witchcraft against someone for personal reasons. They then tried to connect the observed behaviors or claims of behavior with the dreaded concept of witchcraft. Often the accuser and a small group of their associates became judge, jury, and executioner. They convicted, imprisoned, and sometimes killed people based on claims, which were generally based on no unusual behavior. The only thing different between the accused and others was that they were accused and connected to the idea of witchcraft.
Like during the Salem Witch Trials, people today believe they can be judge, jury and executioner. The difference today is that they hide behind the walls of the Internet and use Social Media as their courtroom.
Quick To Judge
Many posts, articles, and news reports come flying at people daily. Based on limited information in an article or even a misleading, exaggerated headline, people begin making connections and judgments. These assessments or opinions of guilt or innocence are based not on what the person being judged actually did, but what the person who is making the judgment believes the person did, did not do, or should have done.
These judgments are heavily influenced by a person’s belief system. For instance, a person may believe that everyone who is diabetic is overweight and eats 2500 calories at every meal. They will likely connect those beliefs to someone they don’t know who is diabetic. The judging party may in turn make disparaging remarks about the person. The reality, however, may be that the person is actually thin, exercises regularly, and happens to be genetically predisposed to having the disease.
Even more disturbing than the negativity and judgments that oozes through Internet land is the fact that people quickly jump on the bandwagon. And, some of them don’t even bother to read the headline. All they know is that people are saying that someone is bad. They jump right in adding more ways that the person is bad based on their associations of other people’s comments to their own beliefs.
This mob behavior feeds off itself and has great growth power due to the reach of the Internet. In today’s world, the Salem Witch Trials would become the World Witch Trials with some people calling for all witches to be put to death without trial while another equally passionate group calls for all witches to be saved.
This is why our society is very divided today. One set of connections and beliefs has been pitted against another. Additionally, this behavior builds hate and anger between complete strangers, who under different circumstances might actually get along.
So, as you live your life and observe what’s happening around you, be cognizant in the connections that you are making and why you are making those connections. Challenge those connections. Both negative and positive connections that are made quickly without studying the situation are very often wrong. Know that any judgments made during the trial that goes on in your head is based at best on limited, circumstantial evidence.
Withholding judgment is essential to avoiding the trap of connecting things that really have no connection at all. Not only does this allow you to be open to new information, it allows others to receive the due process they deserve.