Sunday, May 29, 2005

Typecasting

Those familiar with C++ know that typecasting is a (sometimes necessary) evil. Does the same apply to real life as well? Don't get what I am saying? Well, read on...

The typecasting I am referring to is a sort of categorization of people based on nothing more than their looks, clothes, or the way they speak. It probably arises from the (sometimes foolish) attempts of the human brain to make sense of everything it sees. One of way of doing that is by categorizing information (the divide and conquer strategy), which naturally gets applied to people as well. Another reason could be the "Namma alatheyannu meeralarada devaru" syndrome, by which we measure people by our own subjective scales (hey, if my ruler can't measure it, it can't be long enough, right?).

Well, in my case, people make so many assumptions about the things I could/couldn't do, that I could almost write an entire book on the topic. This happens even with my closest friends and associates, and on occasion, with my family too!

For instance, there are many 'close friends' of mine who are convinced that I cannot swing a (cricket, TT, badminton) bat to save my life, that I cannot sing, who are surprised that I know some basic economic theory, and who just cannot believe that I can drive a vehicle at speeds greater than 30 kmph. Even when people find out that I have a particular talent, there are attempts at sub-categorization - oh, you prefer to sing particular types of songs, so you must be a guy who does not drive! Worse are the assumptions people make because of my lack of dress sense. I won't mention those here.

Here are some more categorizations: "Oh! you are a beautiful girl, so you must know how to sing". "Oh! you are clothed in jeans and t-shirts, so you must have modern views on everything" or, more insidiously, "Oh! you are so good looking that you have to be smart (In India) or dumb (in the USA) ".

I make no bones about the fact that I am guilty of it, and much as I try, there are occasions when linguistic flourish, a personable appearance, or an unfathomable accent has led me to making the wrong judgement about a person.

Are there any advantages of typecasting? From where I stand, there seem to be none. What do you think?

Feel free to post your opinions and experiences.

5 comments:

H said...

I think it should not matter what people typecast you to :), as long as you know about your potentials.

I'm guilty of typecasting people too .

kattricker said...

hey Gops, you have brought out an interesting analogy. I think the biological reason behind this is the way our brain works. Our brain is cognitive and associative. To quote my own typecasting misadventure as a kid was when I was staying with my granny. My granny had this habit of taking a nap in the afternoon's (papa after hard work in the kitchen all morning), while my grandpa used to read books to kill time in the afternoons. As I was playing I crawled to my granny's and was fascinated with her snoring. After a lot of typecasting of the noise it appears I said "ajji yemme!". My grandpa was so happy that his grandson atleast had concurred with his opinion!!

Vikram said...

Hmm. Interesting observation.

Here's a link which tries to typecast personality based on physical appearance. This may sound a bit far fetched, but the author presents some compelling arguments.
http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/popkins2.html

Balbir Singh said...

I am afraid to say that much of the typecasting is formed by knowing people or people with similar life styles. We are good at associating things like karthik said.

Do you think you are typecast correctly?

Gops said...

Ballu,

Isn't it obvious from my post, what I think?

Vikram,

The argument that guy makes is quite convincing! I would have agreed with him if I wasn't a victim of 'face-recognition'.

Karthi, :)