A World of Assumptions

Did you assume what this blog post was going to be about...? Well, before we find out if you were correct, I have a few quick updates for you all. First of all, "What happened to my travel blog?"  Well, if I'm being perfectly honest, it was too much to try to keep up with.  I had no intention of making it anything more than a hobby, so I'll be dissolving it into my one, regular blog.  I found it rather difficult to keep an entry strictly to travel, so I won't be doing that any longer. :)

Actually, one of the reasons I started the travel blog was to clear up some assumptions.  People assume a lot of things about me, and a lot of those assumptions I've found to be incorrect.  So, I thought, should it not be my responsibility to correct those? I'll get to this more in depth, but my newfound answer to this is "no."  It's really not our job to fix someone's incorrect assumptions about ourselves, but rather, this burden rests upon the one who assumes.  They've taken the liberty to infer something that which they do not know, but few continue on that trek to the truth.

See, we all assume, but we assume to different levels.  This changes with maturity, as well as knowledge, but I don't believe those necessarily make one's assumptions more accurate... it just means you either do it more or less.  So, why do we assume in the first place?  Obviously this question seeks a much more complicated answer than I'm going to give, but I believe in part, that it's because we live in a world where virtually anything can be answered by the computers in our pockets.  Many of us have become uncomfortable, even, at the idea of being uncertain.

Have you noticed lately that when you ask someone where they stand on a particular issue, they will usually answer rather quickly?  I find that even people who are quite uninformed on a particular topic would rather jump to a conclusion of SOME sort, rather than say the simple but humbling words, "I don't know."  Is this a prideful choice?  Perhaps.  However, I think it's more due to the fact that being uninformed in the age we live in is almost "unpopular."  More often than not, when you ask someone if they've seen a particular headline, or seen a particular viral music video yet, if they haven't been informed of whatever you're asking about, they get defensive to some degree.  Some people feel as though they're left out, some feel as though that piece of information wasn't worth their time, and some may feel as thought they're being judged for being uninformed.

Are there plenty of other scenarios? Of course, but I think this is a reason a lot of people are uncomfortable with being uninformed.  So, sometimes, to fill in that gap of information, we make assumptions.  Assumptions aren't necessarily a bad thing, but they do lead to some problems. The most obvious one is when one assumes incorrectly; however, I'd like to even venture in saying that when we correctly assume, it can be just as dangerous.  For example, say you drive the same 45 minute commute every day.  You know about what time you need to leave to avoid traffic, and about how long it will take you at the Starbucks drive-through, so you budget about an hour for your commute every day.  I, personally try to check Google Maps every time I go anywhere, so I can check the traffic.  Of course, I'm pretty familiar with the areas to which I frequently travel, but Google Maps gives me a heads up if there's an accident, or a faster route based on current real-time traffic.  (Oh, and for all of you Waze fans, Google bought them, so it uses the exact same date, btw.) However, there have been several times when I bypass my phone's GPS, thinking, "There won't be any traffic now, not at this hour anyway," and I go on my way. I remember not long ago, I spent 40 minutes on a route that should have taken 15 because of my assumption. 

I think this is a great example of assumptions.  If you're under 30, you probably understand what I'm saying, and you probably check traffic on your phone in a similar manner to myself.  However, if you're older, statistically speaking, you probably rely on your assumptions more often, perhaps thinking, "I've driven this for 20 years, so I know which way is the fastest," or "Traffic is going to be bad at this time, because it always is."  This isn't universal, and it's pretty simplistic, but I think it can be applied to a myriad of situations.

When it comes to assumptions about people and situations that are not directly related to us, it can get a lot trickier.  Deciding whether to take highway A, highway B, or the tollway is a fairly straightforward decision, but deciding to judge a person's actions or behavior based on one piece of information is a much riskier and destructive choice.  If you're wrong, it's bad, but if you're right, it's also bad.  When we assume correctly, we tend to get more confident in our ability to assume in the future.

So what should we do about it?  Honestly, I think the only thing we can do is to self-evaluate and see what needs to change.  We all would probably catch ourselves making assumptions on a regular basis.  I caution you to be careful about what you assume about other people.  I don't want to talk about social media all that much, but as people, we're so much more than we post, snap, tweet, etc.  On the flip side, if you feel people mistakenly make assumptions about you, that's really up to them to resolve, and unless you're intentionally misrepresenting yourself, there's really not much you can (or should) do about it.  We have far more complex lives to live.