The art of vilifying someone isn’t foreign to us. The social politics of elementary, middle and high school have taught us who we like to spend time with and who we don’t like to spend time with.
It’s those who are bucketed into the latter description that irk us, and in some cases, the very mention of an individual’s name might set you off on a tangent about the most insignificant actions that person performs.
Just as liking someone could be seen as appreciating and enjoying the tiniest things someone does, disliking someone could be seen as loathing and being hypercritical of the tiniest things someone does.
However, in reflecting on those childhood or current “enemies,” I think it’s important to ask whether our irritation is truly justified.
Especially for my opponents of old, the time from when I last thought about them has lulled my seething disposition, and because of this, I am able to analyze the validity of my hatred.
After reflecting on a multitude of people I once disliked, I came to the realization that most fell into two buckets: people who I don’t typically socialize with and people who I merely created a hasty critique of.
For the former, it’s important to recognize that these people don’t deserve any sort of vilification. In the same way that I won’t be able to fully understand the cultures and customs of other countries’ citizens, I won’t be able to fully understand what others enjoy and the unique ways they socialize.
Our differences are merely the result of different upbringings and life experiences, and oftentimes, these are out of our control. It’s nothing worth forming resentment towards.
As a result, when I feel myself getting annoyed by another person, I’m often able to calm down by reminding myself that said person just isn’t someone I’d spend time with. And that’s perfectly fine. I have that choice to ignore individuals or groups that I find outlandish or uninteresting.
When it comes to those that I create a hasty impression of, my tendency to focus on what sticks out is what clouds my judgement. It’s very easy to do this too.
Public figures in particular face this type of disposition often. Anyone who does something mildly controversial becomes known for their controversy. In turn, we don’t expose ourselves to who that person might truly be.
It’s very easy to forget that those we dislike are human beings who care for others and do things for reasons specific to them. In turn, some people might see a viral prankster as a public nuisance while others might see that same person as a fun-loving dude with the intention of making people laugh.
These very different perspectives are often lost because it’s very easy to give in to the confirmation bias of checking for slight mistakes rather than the goodness in everyone.
In turn, although we can focus on the negatives and make anyone our enemy, we can also look at the jokes they tell, the people they care for, and the interests they have and admire the fact that we might not be so different after all.
We’re all working our way through life, and we’re all doing it in our own ways. So, instead of stopping to mull over people that don’t pertain to you or even people who are important to you and are on a particularly hot streak of annoying decisions, focus on the positives. After all, we’ve probably all been that person once before.