Bad Apples

Have you ever thought about the meaning of the word “generalize,” and how often we do it? How it can affect us as a society?

I’m sure we’ve always done it. But now, with social media, memes, 24/7 media, it seems to have grown exponentially, and, in my opinion, it’s caused the chasm between us to grow seemingly larger by the day.

  • Cops are corrupt/racist.
  • Protesters are thugs.
  • People who wear masks are sheep.

These are but a few of the generalizations I see on a daily basis on social media. (I won’t even get into the political generalizations out there!)

Here are a couple of things I notice about generalizations:

  • They (almost) always lump everyone/everything together as “bad.”
  • The word “all” is implicit in every statement. We may not say it aloud when we generalize, but we certainly think it.
  • The almost always lump everyone/everything together based on the “bad apples.”

William Blake’s quote is harsh, but I think it’s true. Generalizing is too easy and too convenient. It’s an “out” for us–a simple way of thinking that enables us to disregard the hundreds, maybe thousands of INDIVIDUAL stories in every group we generalize. If we’re honest with ourselves, generalizing–avoiding a more critical consideration of any “group”–truly makes us idiots.

We must consider the harm we’re doing to ourselves and to society. Generalizing is a form of prejudice. (And not all prejudice has to do with race.)

  • Generalizations lead to black and white opinions. But the world is full of individual stories in a variety of colors we experience if only we’d go beyond the word “all.”
  • Generalizing emboldens “tribe” mentality and our insistence that “we” are right, and “they” are wrong. But it’s all an easy lie we tell ourselves, because we haven’t taken the time find the truth–to try to understand the stories beneath the word “all.”
  • It not only stagnates us, it rots us. If we don’t move forward with empathy and compassion gained by critical thinking and going beyond the word “all,” then bad apple generalizations will truly spoil the whole bunch.

The next time you hear the word “all” in your head:

  • Question it.
  • Research it. Look deeper
  • Most of all, don’t form your opinion based on a meme.

If we take the time to learn stories rather than focusing on the “bad apple,” we can turn around opinions based on idiotic generalizations.



This entry was posted in Life, politics, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Bad Apples

  1. yayamom43 says:

    Love this. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stu says:

    Thanks, Jan. More posts like this need to read by everyone. everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post, Jan. We humans are exceptionally gifted when it comes to feeling self-righteous about ourselves. We categorize others and lump them into buckets based on our generalizations. I have been guilty of that numerous times even though I personally know people who are nothing like the bucket that I have associated with their race, nationality, religion, etc.

    Thank you for calling us on the carpet about our prejudices. Recognizng our faults and choosing to do something about them is the first step in recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re spot on here, Jan. When I hear “all”, “always”, “never”, and similar generalizing words, my brain sets off a little warning thought that I should take a closer look but be fairly certain that statement isn’t true or false, as the case may be. The media, who of all people should be most responsible with their words, is often the least responsible. If they are using the words with intent, it’s even worse. Thanks for showing how things aren’t generally black and white, especially right now when that phrase takes on an even deeper meaning.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Linda Apple says:

    Love the post, as usual, but…could you rethink the title of your post? 🙂 (Just kidding)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Empathy – A Cure for Our Ills | Jan Morrill Writes

Join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s