It is said that it only takes seven seconds to form a first impression of someone. In seven seconds, most people only view what someone looks like rather than what someone may say or who they are. What does this mean to everyone? Everything you embody is going to be judged in a mere seven seconds and stick with it for a long time because first impressions are hard to erase.
I decided to experiment with this concept through social media. I joined several groups so that I would only be experimenting with people who do not know me, and requested something simple. I asked them to decide who I was based on a single photo. What is my personality? My feelings? My thoughts and ambitions? Characteristics? I wanted to know it all. I decided to state that I would not reply to any comments on the post so that people could post criticism without being attacked. In fact, I encouraged people to state their criticism rather than withhold it.
My findings were very shocking, but also very interesting. Some people posted a simple word or two to describe me. This was intriguing because people took my entire being and boiled it down to one specific word that represented who they thought I was.These words consisted of: "stunning," "sensitive," "humble," "pretty," "artistic," "intelligent," "cautious," "musical," "nice," "sad," "serious," "dedicated," "caring," "loving," "unsure," "shy," "hurt," etc.
When reading these words, it's evident that they are incredibly vague. Anyone can be "stunning," "sensitive," "humble," etc. I debated whether I should combine these words into who I appear to be to the rest of the world, but then decided that the single word from these individuals spoke volumes for my first impression. They looked at my picture for a few seconds before deciding that I was a simple word.
Another thing that stuck out to me was that they were all relatively nice. No one decided that I was a b**** or irritating. They didn't pin me with words such as stupid or dull. I didn't get the amount of criticism that I expected. For once, the internet was actually nice.
I was also impressed by the number of comments I received. When posting stuff online, there is always that constant fear that people will ignore it. This was not the case. In fact, several people commented longer descriptions that were incredibly interesting. They stated things such as:
"I see someone who has come a long way in life and has battled many hardships. I see someone who hides their feelings from the world. I also see someone who is extremely caring and loving and puts everyone before themselves."
"No one should say anything negative. You're gorgeous. You're sensitive. You have great style. You take care of your appearance. There's pain your eyes. Deep pain. You're trying not to let it show. You think before you speak. You don't open up or trust easily. Especially after having been deeply hurt. You're considerate of others."
"You look dedicated, young and a go-getter. The look in your eyes comes across as you are very put together and have a good head on your shoulders."
"A young lady who is slowly finding herself in life. You look to have experienced some kind of hurt in the past that had set you back some. You live to love and inspire others because you know what it's like to be hurt inside. You are quiet at first but can be very lively once you are comfortable. Dedicated to making a better future and you don't give up."
"Your eyes look sad, you've been through a lifetime of events in your short life. You look YOUNG! But you also look confident and you are ready to take on the world. The look on your face says determined, don't underestimate you because you will show everyone what you are made of. You have confidence in yourself and you will stand up for what you believe and others." I'm getting a lot of strong femme vibes from this photo. You look a little sad, yes, but there is strength in vulnerability & that's what you remind me of in this photo.
"Capable - you're good at most things that you try. A perfectionist. You're coping, You hide sometimes. You're vulnerable, and you don't want the parts of yourself that you're protecting exposed - for now. You know that you have great hair. Age 24 or younger. You're thoughtful, creative, feminine, an individualist that isn't fully sure of who she is yet but is willing to stand in her truth today. You value having control of your life."
The comments went on and on, making it impossible to post them all here. I learned that people think I come across as hurt or sad which is interesting because in the photo I was happy. Some aspects of their long descriptions were accurate, meaning that some people could see things similar to how I see myself.
So, what does all of this mean? Anyone can ask for others to comment descriptions of them, but the actual process of having strangers decide who you are is entertaining. I felt more confident in myself for the positivity I received, but also prepared in advance for negativity by reminding myself that these people really have no clue who I am. Humans are incredibly complex beings, and seven seconds isn't enough time to decide who someone is. You can know someone for years and never truly know who they are and why they became that way. You may think you know someone inside and out but it is incredibly difficult to be sure. People change, life impacts us and shapes who we are.
The point in all of this is that seven seconds does not provide enough information to judge someone's character. If you met someone and decided they were not a good person, maybe you should take a second look. If someone decides you are something that you aren't, you have the potential to alter their way of viewing you. Some of these people were very accurate in describing who I was, but others were completely wrong. Everyone's view is subjective, so what one person sees is not what everyone sees. Lastly, remember to refrain from judging people in 7 seconds. You may be surprised at what you think later on.