Rumor Has It...

Growing up we assume the different aspects of our life are separated or compartmentalized by society.  We couldn't be more wrong.

Social Stigmas 

 

When we look at people or people look at us assumptions are made - good or bad, right or wrong.  Everyone forms an opinion about another person based solely on sight.  Add to the sight assumptions - rumors and your have a volatile mix of misinformation.

Here are some more common stigmas:
  • She goes to church with her parents = a 'good' girl
  • He got into a fight at school = trouble, always looking for a fight
  • His dad's a drunk = the kids will be unambitious drunks too
  • Her parents are really smart = she is smart
You get the idea.

These are simple assumptions based solely on the kids' parents and the whole 'apple doesn't fall far from the tree' mentality.  How accurate are they? Not even close.

How Social Stigmas Affect You


Social stigmas are out there.  They are an automatic response in every person.  Maybe its a throwback to our primitive ancestors when instantly accessing another individuals intentions was a life and death skill. 

Many people don't even realize they are making assumptions or if they do they make a conscious effort to ignore them.  You can't avoid being immediately categorized upon initial contact.  What you can do is make a good first impression.

How to Limit the Effects of Social Stigmas


As you grow older, rumors tend to play a bigger role in social stigmas than pedigree.  Your best option then is to make sure the rumors are more positive than negative.  So how do you do that:
  • Realize everything you do is being observed and judged by someone.  From where you live to what you do for a living.  How you treat other people to how you interact with animals.  Where you go on vacation to how you spend your non-working hours.  It is all being observed, shared and judged.
  • Nothing ever goes away on the Internet.  Everything put on the Internet is there forever so be very careful about what you post.  Those drunk photos or nude selfies might find their way to your boss or possibly even the spouse you never had at the time (think 10 years later).
  • Be real.  Be you.  If you are happy with who you are then be that person all the time.  The rumors will reflect this person.
 Actions always speak louder than words.  The person you present to the world through photos, writing, speaking and interactions will ultimately overwrite the rumors.  Just remember, you can't hide.

Ultimately the Internet can be your best friend or worst enemy depending on how you use it.  It is becoming more and more common for a prospective employer to do a 'quick' Google search on their applicants.  What will they find if they were to type in your name?  This article: Can Social Media Affect Your Credit Score? has more great but disturbing information on this topic.

In the end you are who you are.  You will always be gossiped about and assumptions will always be made.  All you can really do is quit feeding the fire.