Guilty By Association

20 Aug

I was recently out with a group of friends. A single friend turned to me and sighed. She said “I’ll never meet anyone I like at this bar. Everyone seems way too boring.”

Now, I know that she didn’t truly mean that everyone at that bar was uninteresting. She was just expressing her exasperation at what seemed to be a hopeless scenario. But it made me think about the “everyone here stinks” logic people tend to use when they’re in the bar setting. Note that I’m talking about here is the wording of the statement, not its meaning. I’ve always found it hard to accept that kind of declarative statement from a rational perspective (from an emotional perspective, I totally get it!).  I find it hard to accept because it’s missing a key element. Though it isn’t said, what that people truly mean when they say “everyone here stinks” is “everyone here stinks… except for me.”

My approach to this is rather glass half-full, and not very realistic when you’re the one in the position of being annoyed at a bar. But let’s think about it from a distanced perspective. If I’m out somewhere, why is it so hard to imagine that someone else like me is at that same place? If I went there, why couldn’t someone like me have made a similar choice to go the same place? It seems logically impossible to me to claim that EVERYONE stinks. It seems to me like everyone at a specific place is guilty by association: unless s/he was physically dragged there against his/her will, that person made a choice to show up. Why couldn’t a worthy counterpart have done the same?The situation reminds me a bit of that famous quote: “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” Turn that around and upside down, and it describes the bar situation to a T. Why would you deride everyone who hangs out somewhere you too chose to hang out? When you pull the emotional bit out of it and just consider the words, it sounds silly, no?

I definitely did not share this logic with my friend at that exact moment, of course. Instead I made sure she had a great time, regardless of whether she met someone or stuck with her friends the whole night. But it got me thinking about the world of bars, and the world beyond it. Because really, the same logic could apply to anywhere you find yourself. Next time you’re willingly out and about and you find yourself generalizing (negatively) about the people around you- remember they very well could say the same about you!

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