The Wide Lens or the Ultra-Zoom?

In my previous post, I discussed how we can’t always see how people are really feeling based on appearances alone and the need to look beyond that to cultivate empathy. If we aren’t careful, though, we might take studying someone a little too far. How so?

When I first started using glasses at twelve years old, my vision wasn’t horrible, so I didn’t notice a huge difference as soon as I put them on. Once I came home, I looked at my ceiling, and believe it or not, that’s what stood out to me. We have a popcorn texture on it, which makes it bumpy, and up to then, I thought I knew what it looked like. With my glasses on, however, I couldn’t get over my changed perspective. Instead of just see these bigger, indistinct rises, I could see the detail that I didn’t know I was missing before. I’m not saying it was the most spectacular view, but my newfound clarity impressed me…and helped me accept the glasses I didn’t want to wear!

When it comes to the majority of people we know, they start out as that indistinct outline from afar. Then, if we choose to draw closer, our view of them takes on more clarity. We see them for who they are rather than for who we perceived them to be from our once limited vantage point. Sometimes, that’s for the good, other times, it’s for the bad, and most the time, it’s a little of both.

In some cases, we might not get that chance to discover such on our own before somebody else “enlightens” us. It may not seem like cliché gossip, but it’s presented like he/she knows the other person better than we do. We glean supposed insight into the person—again for better or worse—and if we trust whoever’s “enlightening” us, our view of the subject is likely to change.

I’ve experienced this a couple of times in my life. At the start, it’s like getting that new pair of glasses, and you might appreciate the newfound clearness. After all, nobody likes to be blind to something. This world expects, even claims to deserve, the truth, so shouldn’t we value someone who’s offering it to us? Aren’t they sparing us from the risk of being deceived?

Circumstances vary, and on occasion, it might be necessary to inform or learn something that isn’t common knowledge. Ignorance is bliss, but it can hurt you. At the same time, over-exposure to the so-called truth can also inflict damage. Speaking from my experience, that exhilaration from having the blindfold ripped off of me didn’t last, but it turned into loneliness and negativity. I soon discovered that “enlightenment” didn’t liberate me; it held me captive.

I’m not encouraging blinding one’s eyes to things, but I’ve learned we need a balance, especially when we’re dealing with our fellow man. The pursuit of truth can go too far. If we’re honest with ourselves, no one knows the “true” us. We say, do, and think things that we wouldn’t want everybody to know, so who are we to seek full disclosure from one another?  

To put it plainly, if you look close enough, you’re going to find bacteria in everyone. When we get to know people, we’re bound to find things we might not like, but we can’t let that deter us. And we shouldn’t try to deter others from getting better acquainted, just because we think we’re a good judge of character. Sure, we need to make the right choice of associates, but we shouldn’t dissect them. Hardly anything looks beautiful when you zoom in as close as you can. If you reach for a wide angled lens, on the other hand, you’ll often find any flaws disguised by the gorgeous surroundings.

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