Friday, December 16, 2011

Judge That Book

My entire life I’ve heard, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  My entire life I’ve nodded my head and smiled like a programmed robot.  My entire life I’ve always felt uncomfortable with how this is universally accepted and applied carelessly.  What I mean by that is I do not think a person should be judged by the color of their skin or any obvious superficial things that they have no control over, blue eyes, brown hair, etc.  Furthermore and however (which I am enthused to use together because I’ve never seen it done) I do think books are judged by their covers and at times this age-old mantra should be thrown out the window.  Again, and hopefully this will not be glossed over because I am saying it twice, I do not think anyone should be judged by exterior appearances they have no control over, like race, hair color, eye color, etc.

Every time I fly I have a tradition, one I’ve kept since I started flying solo, buying a new book.  I am so involved and engaged in everything throughout my everyday life that I am always intentional and trying to grow and learn.  So, when I get the chance to unplug and take some time off, while on my way, at the airport, I don’t allow myself to be so planned and on point.  My long held tradition has been buying a random book based on its cover.  I have found some grossly underachieving books and many deeply cherished paperbacks that I hold dear to my heart.  Point here being, judging a book by its cover is something everyone does and at times it can be a good thing.  The good and reality of judging a book by its cover is that one can trust in his or her intuition.  Intuition and hatred are very different and can be easily identified.  I think the liberal application of a well-intended mantra has done two things; 1, undermined trust in intuition and 2, created easy escape routes for personal responsibility.

Gut feelings can be accurate if held accountable by reality.  Running around having feelings of grandiose outside the boundaries of your reality is not what I am talking about here.  Gut feelings should be questioned with logical reasoning.  While walking to your car at night in a dimly lit parking lot being followed by a man in a dark hoodie should give you a gut feeling that something is about to go down or that you could be in danger.  Let’s hold that intuitive thought accountable with reality now.  It is night and you are alone.  The parking lot if not well lit and you are alone.  This guy has been following you with his hood on for 2 blocks.  It makes sense to feel uncomfortable.  If any of these factors change, say it is the middle of the afternoon and you are walking downtown at lunch surrounded by thousands of people, then reality would squelch this gut feeling.  If your gut feeling or intuition is contrary to reality then I say dismiss it.  However, if you have an intuitive feeling about something that is supported by reality and reasoning then you should trust yourself.  Not judging a book by its cover has minimized the importance of intuition.  One should not feel wrong for having a gut reaction to something because they have this burden of not judging a book by its cover.  If the cover has a picture of a vampire I doubt it contains content about accounting for stay at home moms.  If something smells funny you don’t eat it, unless it is a delicious gourmet cheese, they always stink but man oh man are they pleasing to the palate.  My point here is where you see smoke there is fire and if a situation adds up to make you feel a certain way and your reasoning is logical then you should trust your intuition. 

Personal responsibility is avoided quite often, especially in social media because people think they shouldn’t be judged by their cover.  It’s almost as if the “don’t judge a book by its cover” has been abused and is now a way for someone to say they are not what they express, but something different.  Profile pictures, status updates, and tweets represent who you actually are.  If an employer finds your Twitter account and begins to read your feed and discovers you are always degrading women you should not be surprised to not get hired.  You can at no point say, oh that’s not really how I am and beg that they not be so quick to make a judgment about you.  Unless you are bipolar or have multiple personality disorder then what you produce, whether it be tweets, status updates, comments made, art, etc., you are expressing what lies within you.  Each of us (outside of race and genetically predetermined features of our “cover”) is responsible for our cover. What we represent ourselves as is our responsibility.  I often tell young guys I play basketball to be careful about how they represent themselves online because employers and the rest of the world are watching and have access to these things.  It’s easy to point the finger at the world for judging you, but any content that you produce is a direct representation of you and much like an apple tree you are identified by your fruit, what you produce.  Judging is not bad, unless it is filled with hate or hypocrisy, we all judge, daily we make judgments based on what we experience.  Escaping responsibility by asking people to not judge by what you produce is weak and delusional.  We are responsible for what we produce and should be held accountable for that, individually. 

 The cover is the best short representation of what lies inside a book.  Old parables reference agriculture to address this book cover ideology often. It’s a simple idea, apple trees produce apples.  Pear trees do not and never will produce watermelons.  A tree is identified by its fruit.  This same principle applies to how we as individuals represent ourselves; our book covers if you will.  This whole don’t judge me by what you see should be thrown to the wind and individuals should be held responsible for what they present to the world.  Again, I clarify and want to be clear stereotypes or racism or any other kind of hate is not what I am talking about.  Hate is bad, sound judgment is good and there is an obvious difference between the two.  Making sound judgments on what you see is absolutely appropriate.  What’s inappropriate and downright careless is to avoid personal responsibility by asking others to not consider the content you put forth. What cover are you putting forth?  Does your cover represent what you’d like to be seen as? 


  1. Great piece Adam. Image is everything.

  2. right on Mr Middleton, thanks for the comment, image isn't everything, but it does carry quite some weight.