I had a moment in Winnipeg this week. When I say a moment I mean something that made me stop and think about life for a minute. Actually, it made me think about it the rest of the day — ultimately, the rest of the week.
Motoring through the city’s North End I was headed to a newsroom to shoot a video segment when I noticed a man wrapped up in a blanket and sleeping on a bus stop bench. (And before you jump on me: The pic in this post is a stock photo from the internet. I didn’t take a pic of the guy I’m referring to.)
People waiting for the bus stood nowhere near him. Everybody kept their distance.
Did they know something about him that I didn’t? He hardly seemed a threat since he was just getting some rest and trying to stay warm.
As I made my way to the third-floor newsroom I couldn’t get out of my head the image of the, presumably, homeless man. Why? It was nothing about him personally it was more about my thoughts of a stranger.
I don’t know if he was drunk. I don’t know if he was partying all night. I don’t know if he just lost a job and can’t make ends meet. Maybe he had mental health issues and no loved ones to take care of him.
What made my face go cold was the idea I judged someone based on what little I knew: A guy wrapped in a blanket asleep on a bench.
He wasn’t “passed out” per se. His blanket was an actual blanket and not tattered rags or other makeshift warmer. He looked like he planned to sleep there because he potentially had nowhere else to go.
When I left the warmth of the building and headed back in his direction, the man was gone.
In a world where we are so quick to judge thanks to instant feedback and gratification thanks to social media, how often do we internalize and process what we see?
When we see a teenage girl post a half-naked pic from her bathroom, do we judge it the way she wants us to and say, “Wow, she’s really attractive”? Or do we actually think, “Why does she want this kind of attention? Is she insecure?”
Then again, are we judging and assuming she isn’t happy with herself by asking ourselves those types of questions?