Don’t Judge Me

“Please don’t judge me. Cuz I won’t judge you. Cuz it could get ugly. Before it gets beautiful”

… Anyone else know that song? Chris Brown? Don’t Judge Me? No? … *crickets*

Maybe… maybe not.

Ok, so the very first thing that instantly popped in my head when I began reading the Goffman article yesterday is the old quote that we all have heard a gazillion time, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. That led to this old picture popping in my head. 

 Image

Appearance and visual cues

The picture above attempts to “call out” what we as humans do on a daily basis; judge. Too often we make summary judgments about an individual solely based off of their appearance. Is that fair? Who knows? One thing that I do know, however, is that it’s natural. I’ve accepted the fact that 10 times out of 10, when someone is meeting me for the first time, they automatically formulate in their head what kind of person I probably am.

So knowing that I’m always going to be judged, there are a few things that I have decided that I must be mindful of when meeting new people; especially in a business setting. Appearance, visual cues, and non-verbal cues are all critical when interacting with other people. The article touches on the idea of non-verbal cues on page 4 when presenting “two kinds of communication-expressions given and expressions given off” (Goffman 4) . These two items are important in interaction and are key drivers behind the summary judgments I spoke of earlier. Non-verbal cues are rather easy to pick up in the real world, however in the virtual world, they’re essentially impossible to discover.

So what does this tell us about virtual interaction? In my opinion, I just think it means that online, we’re pretty much forced to spend a longer amount of time around another person, or avatar, before we’re able to make a comfortable summary judgment about them. (Because like I said earlier, judging is natural and it’s always going to get done regardless of the medium we do it in.)

Virtual interaction and character examination online are all going to come down to your avatar’s appearance, and more importantly, its behavior. Behavior was one of the key areas of focus in the Yee and Bailenson reading. What was interesting however, was how the reading seemed to reroute and reverse the importance of behavior examination from perceiver-to-target towards the target-to-perceiver. This all occurs along with the process of “behavioral confirmation”.

“Behavioral confirmation is the process whereby the expectations of one person (typically referred to as the perceiver) cause another person (typically referred to as the target) to behave in ways that confirm the perceiver’s expectations” (Yee 2).

The idea of behavioral confirmation centers around the whole idea that sometimes people act as who they’re constantly told they are. While this surely isn’t true 100% of the time, it does still happen. It’s going to be interesting to see if this phenomenon will be evident in Second Life.

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