Why Stereotypes Are Worse Than We Think

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

“How Entrepreneurs Do It;” “5 Ways to Achieve This and That,” “10 Books Every Innovator Must Read…” This is in my newsfeed every single day. The headlines differ ever so slightly, the content is virtually the same.

To their credit, the publications and their contributors churn out fairly good orations. You have a lot to learn from this kind of clickbait. But read them every day and you start to notice a pattern – it all boils down to common sense. Perhaps the articles target those who lack it.

‘Never say these things’

I recently came across one that laid out 9 phrases that you won’t find in a smart person‘s vocabulary. Some of the more eye catching examples included, “you look tired,” “you always… / you never…”, and “whatever you want.” And I thought to myself, this is common sense at best! If this is what it takes to be a hot-shot contributor at a business publication, I want a slice of that financial pie.

Jokes aside, this really is common sense. Being sympathetic doesn’t necessarily mean your IQ is off the charts. Good education is enough to set you on the right communication path with others. And let’s face it. We’ve all slipped up at least once in our lives. Perhaps the author did too, and found out the hard way that some things just shouldn’t be said sometimes (hence the article).

The problem lies not with the content, but with the headline. Namely the part where it says only smart people know not to utter these phrases during conversations. Here, I’ll prove it citing another no-no on that list: “You look tired.” Sure, it’s not something you want to hear every day, but is it a line that only dumb people play out when they are with someone who happens to be a mess on that particular day?

Books recommended by celebs

Here’s another type of headline I don’t care for: “The 6 Books Shark Tank’s Daymond John Wants You to Read.”

Depending on your nose, you could either be flattered that Shark Tank’s star wants you to succeed, or you could pick up on a marketing stunt meant to push those six books onto the masses. The truth could be anywhere in between, but what does Daymond John know about me anyway? You can’t just recommend books off the shelf to people of all ages, cultural backgrounds, aspirations or religious beliefs.

So, again, this feeds a stereotype that says “if you want to be successful like Daymond here, sink your teeth into these exact writings.” In reality, you can judge the book by its cover and decide for yourself if it’s worth your time. Art is interpretable. Your understanding of the things said in that book may differ greatly from Daymond’s.

The same applies to everything. Don’t lend your ear to common sense disguised as advice, pick your own battles, say and think what you want (as long as you don’t hurt anyone on purpose) and know that your judgment is a good as anyone else’s. Had some things not been meant to be said or read, they wouldn’t have existed.

Post A Reply