There is Always More to the Story
February 9, 2018 | A shared identity: Eastern Iowa unites to create Creative Corridor
It is commonly believed that millennials hook up for the purpose of sex more frequently than preceding generations. This perception may come from the growing number of dating apps available and the large number of social media posts by millennials chronicling their sexual exploits.
The facts tell a very different story. Things are not always as they appear to be. Gen Xers born in the late 1960s were more than twice as likely to have been sexually active as millennials born in the 1990s. Millennials who are sexually active have fewer partners than both Xers and boomers. The only generation comparable to millennials was born in the 1920s.
When presented with only part of the story, why do we jump to conclusions? Why do we assume facts that are not in evidence? Why don’t we engage in conversations to learn more?
Rarely do we have the entire story. We form our impressions and judgments of situations most often with incomplete information. To do this we rely on shortcuts. We take in the sensory data available, look for patterns, interpret what we see and add missing information for what we don’t. When faced with conflicting data and the inevitable incomplete story, we trust mostly what we see. Consider the following true story.
A single mother was devoted to her only child, David. One day when David was a baby, his mother left him sleeping to go out and work in the garden. While she was in the garden, the house caught fire. Unconcerned with her own life and safety, she ran inside to save her son while witnesses to the event tried to hold her back.
Amazingly, she found David untouched and rescued him. During the rescue, her hair caught fire and burned her face, leaving horrific permanent scars.
Despite growing up to become successful, David was always embarrassed by his mother’s appearance and would occasionally comment to others on her ugliness. When his mother heard this, she was saddened. She decided to confront him and tell him where the scars had come from.
She was killed in a bus crash on her way to see David to tell him the truth.
When searching through his mother’s belongings, he found her journal. It included the following entries:
- September 5, 1980. I won the Miss Toronto Beauty Contest.
- January 14, 1982. My husband, Tonny Gateson, passed away in a road accident while I was six months pregnant.
- July 2, 1983. My face was scarred and I lost my hair saving my son, David, from a house fire.
Should David be blamed for forming the impressions he held? Because he was short of complete information, he did what we all do. He pieced together the rest of the story and made a judgment. A decision he no doubt regrets.
The tendency to jump to premature conclusions is part of human nature. When you remind yourself of this natural inclination, you can make different behavioral choices. Seek out the whole story and make a more informed decision.