I’ve Got to Stop Making Snap Judgements

My son and I were at the mall today, and as part of our late morning/early afternoon visit, we walked past an indoor playground.

There was the usual mix of young kids, parents, and possibly grandparents, but one person stood out to me.

It was a young woman sitting on a bench with a cup of Starbucks coffee beside her,  talking on her cell phone with her laptop open, and what looked to be some type of notebook or day planner.

My immediate thought was “Shouldn’t you be paying attention to your kid?”

We continued walking past the playground, and about five minutes later I started to have second thoughts about my initial impression.

I had only caught a glimpse of a situation, yet I was quick to make a judgement, that this woman was neglecting her child.

I had no idea what this woman’s life was like, what kind of relationship she had with her child/children, what she was doing on the phone or to whom she was talking, what she was doing on her laptop, how long she had been there, or a thousand other things.

And despite all of that not knowing, I still felt compelled to form an opinion about the young woman.

I’d like to say it’s the first time I’ve done something like that, but I know it’s not.

I also started to wonder if I would have had the same initial reaction if it had been a young man I saw in such a situation. Was my reaction just providing support for the results of the implicit bias test I had taken last week, which revealed that “your data suggest a strong automatic association for Male with Career and Female with Family.”

All I can say in my defense is that I recognized the fact that I had made a snap judgement, and that doing so was less than admirable behavior.

Hopefully awareness of the problem is the first step in fixing the problem.

In the meantime, were any of you wondering what I was doing at a mall, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week?

All I can say is, don’t judge me…

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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