So here’s a little game for you. When you made a new acquaintance, what was the first thing that left a lasting impression - was it appearance, predisposition or the context in which they were introduced to you?
How many sentences were exchanged? On what topics? If you had to gauge things, how much of it was circumstantial or sincere, from either side?
Most people are terrible judges of character - a handicap that, unfortunately, does little if anything to prevent anyone from rating themselves quite highly - but, most importantly, if you were to pick a half-dozen people from your current circle of friends, acquaintances or colleagues, you’d likely be hard pressed to recall more than two or three things about the first time you met (more so if it was in a party or similarly fluid situation, but let’s put those aside for the sake of argument).
But you’ll invariably remember exactly when, where and how you first formed an opinion about them, even if it turns out to be fundamentally wrong.
This peculiar quirk of human memory owes, I believe, a lot more to our emotional makeup and subconscious motivations than to rationality, and is something I’ve of late come to regard as an annoyance, either because it clashes somewhat with my rather peculiar memory - I am constantly having to reconcile factual recollections of events with emotional ones - or because it soon becomes a recognizable pattern in other people’s interactions.
Prejudice (in whatever form) still carves wide chasms between people, and, regretfully, is very much alive and well in the digital age.
Next up, character assessments.