By Madeline Foster

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” is an old saying that no longer seems to apply. On one hand,we consider ourselves to be a more open and inclusive society, but on the other, we have an unhealthy obsession with judging others.
 
It seems to be the most popular thing to do on social media platforms next to sharing videos of cute animals.
 
Did you know? There is a psychological and sociological reason we act this way?
Social Media Psychological Reason
No, we aren’t just being mean, we’re actually compelled to do it.
 
Part of the reason we judge others is to explain or come to terms with their irrational behavior. We file it, label it and store it and judge others based on how we perceived it.
 
We all know, humans are social creatures who need to blend in. Yes, even if that means saying and doing things we don’t actually agree with.
 
The 2017 Presidential election is proof of this. It has divided Americans into two distinct social groups based entirely on fake news, misinformation and political propaganda. Each judging the other based on perceived moral principles.
 
It has become a full-fledged media circus where name calling is the order of the day. This is disturbing behavior from a team of leaders who represent thousands of individuals.
 
Defensive behavior is the result of being judged and is often viewed itself as dramatic.
 
In fact, drama is bullying that is usually perpetrated by what many people refer to as, “cyber trolls” on the Internet. Trolls are negative individuals who have contradictory views and disrupt rather than persuade the conversation. Narcissists, they tend to blame and shame instead of providing valid arguments. This behavior usually leads to someone becoming defensive and then bullying (from both sides) ensues.
 
Does this situation sound familiar? It should. Most of us have experienced it at one time or another. I know that I have and it almost destroyed my life and career because as a writer what you say matters.
 
What I have learned is that the only way to stop yourself from being part of the drama is to ignore it. This is not easy to do when you are the one judged because our ego wants to defend itself. It is a natural reaction to pain, shame, and blame. But, ignoring a troll is the only way to succeed. When you draw attention to yourself especially in a defense position, you will likely become a target.
 
Social media itself is to blame.
 
There are tons of posts that encourage people to judge others. For example, the countless videos of “Wal-Mart Shoppers,” that portray them in embarrassing and negative ways. They encourage viewers to laugh and make fun of the people in the videos. There is a presumption that everyone who shops there is trashy.
 
According to Patrick Roy, life coach expert at kinichat.com, “The way people judge others on social media has strong psychological implications. People who judge are more likely to be controlling, angry and narcissistic.”
 
Social media is not the only medium that has created an outlet for bullying. Chat apps, forums and texting are running a close second.
 
“In the past, people would go to the mall, grocery store and judge people in passing. It was a brief and silent encounter. It is now much more frequent, personal and direct. What is worse, it happens in large groups, thus reinforcing a group bully mentality.”
 
According to D. Wood, author of “What you say about others says a lot about you,” everyone has judged someone. “Judging others is an automatic response, often done without thought,” she says. “People judge others while driving, shopping, and during other common activities.”
 
An Online CessPool
 
The Internet has provided access to a larger number of individuals. It gives bullies a huge pool of victims to choose from. Individuals also provide more public and personal information which opens the door for them.
 
Another famous author, Barrett, in 2017 stated how we judge people is just as important. “We judge them based on our own prejudices and stereotypes.”
 
Dr. Mattiuzzi claims,”All humans have the tendency to place specific traits on specific types.” We judge them based on those traits but admits we have gone way beyond the norm since using social media. Perhaps this is because we are hiding behind a screen, invisible to the world
 
No holds barred!
 
The way people judge depends on how well the individuals know the person they’re judging. Strangers or casual acquaintances are likely to be judged harsher. Friends or people who are well known to the individual are judged on each action, not as an individual.
 
It is not all bad.
 
How we judge is a reflection of our own self-worth.
 
According to Wood, people who tend to judge in a positive manner tend to have a better self-image. They are stable, courteous, happy, kind-hearted, and capable. Their positive feelings reflect on the other people and thus tend to judge them in a better light. “How you see other people shows how satisfied you are with your own life.”
 
Those who judge others in a negative way tend to have higher levels of antisocial behavior. They are also more likely to suffer from depression and other personality disorders. Research suggests that finding a way to make these people see in a more positive way could help treat them.
 
The research seems to suggest that there is something to be said about the golden rule. How you treat others is how they will treat you.
 
Who knew?
 
References
Barrett, D. (2017). Social Psychology: Core Concepts and Emerging Trends. Sage Publications: USA. Mattiuzzi, P., PH.D. (2010). Every day psychology. Retrieved from http://www.everydaypsychology.com/2010/01/those-people-are-like-this-these-people. Wood, D. (2010). What you say about others says a lot about you, research shows. Wake Forest University. Retrieved https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802165441

Madeline Foster
A freelance writer, I have worked with a number of different brands but my expertise lies in the non-profit and helping industries.

I have a strong personal following and love, no, I need coffee. In fact, if they could inject it, I would consider it. I work for Tfonia, live in suburbia, and as Tyrian Lannister would appreciate, “I drink wine and I write things." Writing is my passion, it is not a job.