It’s always interesting to me in the wake of a horrible crime the way people talk about the accused. Media reports surface almost immediately about what kind of person could possibly carry out such an act. “Those closest to him are left scratching their heads tonight,” the TV anchor tells us. Cut to the sound bite of a 20 year old college student: “I mean, he was cool. He went to parties. We hung out and played basketball a few times. I can’t believe he’d do this!” Cut to the 19 year old girl: “He was quiet but really sweet. I’m in shock.”
It begs the question: Why do we think we know people?
I was in the green room at Fox & Friends in New York one day when I recognized the man next to me pouring cream in his coffee. I said to him, “Hey, you’re David Cassidy!” He took a sip from his steaming cup and replied, “Yep, and you are?…” We went on to have a nice conversation. I told him how much my sister loved him, owned every one of his records, and how she used to hang pictures of him from Tiger Beat all over her bedroom walls. “Really? I’ve never heard that before,” he joked and we both started cracking up. He took another sip and said, “You know what’s weird? People think they know me just because I was on TV; like I’m their best friend. It’s kind of awkward because it’s so one-sided. I’ve never seen them before in my life and they really think they know me.”
We shouldn’t be so surprised when we learn something about someone, even if what we learn is hideous. After all, how many people do we truly know? I’m close with my wife. I think I know my parents pretty well. My brother and sister are both pretty private. I’ve been blessed with friends I’ve known for more than 30-years, but they live in different places and have different experiences. They have thoughts they never share and so do I. Overall, people are pretty guarded, especially these days when revealing your beliefs and expressing opinions too often labels you as something you’re probably not. Social media is frankly making it worse too because now we’re basing what we think we know on what people are typing.
Personally I’m working on this. I’m looking at my circle and figuring out how I can better connect with people in it and I’m offering my help and support, even if it’s just an ear. We need each other. Imagine the difference you can make in someone’s life simply by listening and hearing them.
We’re never going to know everything about everyone, but we might learn enough to help.
Pick up the phone.
Schedule that lunch.
David was dreamy, wasn’t he?