Assuming the worst is one of the most prevalent and frustrating traits there is. This is epidemic in social media, especially with people who claim to be fighting for social justice, but instead are just fighting people. It’s a symptom of having issue lenses.
It usually stems from when one believes that a certain demographic, or anyone who isn’t a part of one’s own, is their adversary and/or oppressor. Because they believe that anyone in the demographic they oppose is out to get them, they assume that any expression from them must be an attack. Anything they say must be an attempt to somehow subvert them. It’s a method of intentional victimhood.
Don’t assume, clarify!
“What a person is or believes is irrelevant. All that matters is how they treat others.”
Whenever someone makes a comment that you feel is against you or what you believe in, ask for clarification rather than assuming the worst.
This means you might be wrong. Oh noes! If that is uncomfortable for you, then there’s some internal work on your mindset that needs to be done. There is nothing wrong with being wrong. It is a necessary step to being correct. No one is always right.
Assuming the worst is the quickest way to get a backlash, and victims LOVE backlash! It confirms their victim status. Unless you’re a bigot or a troll, you probably want to have a civil interaction with everyone you meet. It’s on you to keep your cool and get clarification if you’re not 100% certain of their context. A person being of a certain demographic does not constitute this certainty.
What a person is or believes is irrelevant. All that matters is how they treat others. That goes for you as well.
Assuming the worst is a form of bigotry.
“We must take people on a case by case basis if we are to avoid bigotry and divisiveness.”
Assuming the worst about someone because they’re a liberal, a conservative, a man, a woman, transgender, black, white, mixed race, old, young, rich poor, religious, secular or anything else makes one a bigot. Sadly, too many people fight bigotry with more bigotry and it’s idiotic. “Hey, how can I bring people together and make tings more equal? I know! I’ll just accuse them of being a bigot while I single them out for what they are! Hurr durr!”
There is no such thing as a demographic where everyone in it is the same.
Even in the most universally vilified groups, there are people within them who don’t agree with the majority of their demographic. There were Nazis who helped Jews escape. There was a daughter in the Westboro Baptist Church who realized she was being a ridiculous homophobe and left. There are people in fundamentalist churches who are secretly gay, and petrified to come out or attempt to leave because if they got found out, their former family and friends might beat them to a pulp. The Democrat and Republican parties both have a lot of people who are very disillusioned with their parties. Pick any demographic, and there are good people in it. Sometimes their situation is really sticky and they have to play along and pretend that they fit in. Not everyone has the resources or ability to escape.
Life is full of uncomfortable nuance. People don’t fit into neat little boxes. If you don’t want to end up a bigot yourself, take people on a case by case basis. The same goes for people’s arguments and opinions.
Opinions aren’t necessarily related.
“Assuming things about people based on a single opinion they hold is intellectually lazy.”
If someone has one opinion, it doesn’t mean they hold other opinions that are often related to it. Someone who says they can’t stand a candidate of one party doesn’t necessarily support the other candidate. It also doesn’t mean they belong to the opposing party. They may be of a third party, or they may be completely non-partisan.
I see this all the time. Someone hates Trump? They must love Hillary! Someone hates Hillary, it must mean they love Trump or they’re a “Bernie bro”. People stupidly and immediately see things only in binary. “If’n you ain’t one, you gotta be the other!” If you suggest sensible gun regulations, you must be out to take all the guns! If you are against political correctness, that means you just want to be openly racist and sexist! Assumptions the worst leads to a lot of bullshit.
The only thing one should assume about the person who says they don’t like a particular candidate is that they don’t like that candidate. That’s it. Anything else is a projection.
Even if you know which party they are affiliated with, it doesn’t mean they accept everything their party does or stands for. They might be extremely dissatisfied with the way their party is and are hoping for or working towards it becoming better.
Assuming things about people based on a single opinion they hold is intellectually lazy. It’s bigoted and short-sighted.
If you find yourself often saying that if a person is a (pick a demographic) then they must be (pick a negative trait), then you may wish to rethink how you think. It takes intentional effort to catch yourself and stop yourself from assuming the worst.
Society seems to promote that kind of laziness and prejudice. It’s a lack of thinking. It’s reacting rather than responding rationally. Many times, the best thing to do when you read or hear something you don’t like is nothing.