Geeks Vs Loneliness: judging other people

Just a quick word about why it might be worth cutting people just a little more slack...

Welcome to our Geeks Vs Loneliness spot, where we aim to chat about issues, problems, challenges and general stuff that may just be making life tough. Hopefully, somewhere along the line, we can come up with a helpful suggestion or two as well. You never know.

This week, we’re looking at passing snap judgements on people. Don’t worry if this one’s not your bag. There’s lots of Star Wars articles on the site and stuff!


A friend of mine told me a story last week. They were watching a performance, and come the end, the audience erupted with applause. She didn’t. She sat there, not clapping. She’d loved what she’s seen, and she’d found the show quite wonderful, but she still didn’t clap. She got odd looks from the people around her, too.

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The reason she didn’t clap was because she couldn’t. Because she knew that if she clapped, the following day her hands would be in agony. Society, sadly, doesn’t give us too many other ways to express appreciation when you’re part of a crowd, and thus she was left looking like a killjoy. The truth is she was anything but.

It reminded me of a time when I was leaving a gig with a friend. Someone looked scornfully in our direction, and said that they couldn’t believe people went to a concert like that, and didn’t stand up and dance. My friend would have loved to. She couldn’t, thanks to something she has to face and live with every day. The other person couldn’t possibly know that. But then that’s the point.

Society is very good at judging other people. In fact, I’m going to let society off the hook and say that it’s human beings that are very good at judging other people. That person’s handwriting isn’t very good, they’re not running too fast, why can’t they read that, why is that child no good at musical statues, they’ve not said a word to me all night… You can probably come up with a fair few examples yourself.

The problem, of course, is that whilst it’s easy to make such observations, it’s tougher to get to the reasons behind them. In truth, we get a two-dimensional snapshot of most people’s lives at best. Sometimes a little more, but usually, even the person we think we really know well at work, we still don’t know everything.

This piece, then, has a simple message: how about cutting people a bit of extra slack? Maybe just for today, and see how it goes?

Sure, someone might actually be genuinely lazy. Someone might be going out of their way to be hurtful (although we’re coming to the topic of who bullies bullies in a future Geeks Vs Loneliness column). Someone might be not clapping because they don’t want to.

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But maybe that’s not the case. Maybe they’re just having a tough time. Maybe they have a disability you don’t know about. Maybe they’ve had some horrible news that they’re struggling to process. Maybe it’s just a bad day.

All the best, as always, and thank you very much for reading.