This weekend, I lounged by a pool with a book and a super-cute pair of sunglasses. The water sparkled like a thousand tiny stars, the sunlight was bright and warm on my skin. If I had taken a picture, you would’ve seen exactly what I described. And if I stopped my description there, you’d probably think it sounded like paradise.
But that’s not the entire picture. The sun might have been warm, but the air was approximately 57 degrees, with a powerful wind that would kick up and make me wish I had a big, fuzzy blanket.
And suddenly it does’t sound so much like paradise. You wouldn’t have seen the occasional windiness in the picture. You wouldn’t have been able to tell it was 57 degrees. You would have only known part of the story. My first description was honest, but what you assumed were sneaky little untruths.
How often do we know only part of the story? How often do we make decisions and judgements based on information we think we have? If we make inferences from a description or a picture, how much more do we infer about people?
It’s something to ponder, certainly. It makes you look at the news a little differently. Information gets distorted, misrepresented.
Does that mean we should walk around cynically mistrusting everything and everyone?
Good gosh, I hope not! There’s a space between cynicism and gullibility. That’s where we should be, between the two extremes.
Question information. Identify your assumptions.
And remember — the sun may be shining, but that doesn’t mean it’s warm.