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50 shades of grey

November 24, 2014

The movie-maker’s premise that the world needs a ‘hero’ to save the ‘innocent’ from the villainy of an evil mastermind is time tested. It’s not too bad for the bottom line either as long as the idea can be repackaged to make it more appealing for the masses. And of course, the audience is already sold on the concept. After all, most in the audience have nurtured the self-notion of being a saviour at some point in life. If not a saviour, at least the notion of being the ‘affected’ one – be it by the tyranny of their bosses or some government/political outfit. What many don’t realize is that the binary take of the world, sold by the studios, has profound implications on their perception of the world. A person starts categorizing every other as black or white. Anyone who is not a hero ought to be a villain.

We all know human beings are too complicated to fit that bill. And therefore, it would be more appropriate to see them as a shade of grey. That too, not as a constant shade such as black and white but as a shade that changes throughout their life depending on circumstances. In theory, this behaviour seems to be a very simple observation that has been mentioned by innumerable psychologists/behavioural experts. Although, this behaviour is equally challenging to grasp on a day to day basis during interactions with the outside world. Why?

Because of our tendency to stereotype.

Stereotyping by humans has already been extensively researched and its importance recognized, by behavioural experts. It helps in quick judgment, reduces the decision making load and is congruent with flight or fight response.

It is also responsible for our binary view.

Human nature differs so wildly among people that one can spend an entire lifespan understanding a person and yet be occasionally stymied by that person’s nature. Considering that an average human comes in contact with thousands of individuals in his life span, he does not have enough time to understand the other and too with certainty. If Y knows that he has been improperly treated by X or has heard of X’s mistreatment toward someone else, Y is better off avoiding X for Y does not know whether X can be approached for help in times of adversity and what X’s reaction would be.

This makes sense and is perfectly acceptable. But for someone seeking a greater understanding human behaviour, he needs to accept that an act of black does not make a whole person black. Only after this will one realize that this understanding has infinite practical applications.

One Comment leave one →
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