Who Do You Really Know?

There is a tendency for people to think they know others and then to express an all seeing opinion upon them. It is a part of the heinous sin, gossip. This practice of gossiping about people, who are the movers and shakers, who is on the up, who is knobbing who, who is on the down, who got a big grant, who published in nature was part and parcel of academic life. There are newspapers and magazines nearly entirely dedicated to gossip. It is fair to say that gossip and the salacious desire for the next juicy morsel is very common in our times. People, now get this, gossip about what is happening in TV soap operas!! They are knowingly gossiping about what is happening in made up stuff.

I have on occasion met people at events who claim to have met me and know me. One of these was at an IOP sponsored entrepreneurship event. They did not know that they were talking to me. So clearly their claims were not entirely accurate. It is very bizarre to stand there and have some arsehole tell you about yourself. It is tempting to offer them a shovel so that they might dig for themselves a deeper hole.

If for example you met me say two decades ago and we interacted briefly you might have a very different version of me in your mind, different from what I actually am like now. I am deeply introverted so in all likelihood I would not have spoken very much about what is/was important to me. If you met me three decades ago, you might have had the impression that I was more of a party animal, but I was already starting to introvert more. There are things about me that most people have no idea of.

For example, when I was doing my Ph.D. I was accepted as a trainee officer cadet in the Royal Marine Commando Reserves. I passed quickly through the initial selection because my paternal family had a long association with the military across several generations.

On numerous occasions people gave assumed that I am ex-military. I had a long chat with my hairdresser in Farnham who was ex-Pathfinder and sniper. His eyesight had started to go. I talked about Brecon, having hiked there and he assumed that I had done some training there. The dope dealers outside KFC in Brixton used to joke I was a soldier. They asked me if I was a police officer and I said no.

I think it fair to say that most people make shed loads of assumptions about others and seldom check either the provenance of any received opinion or the accuracy of their assumptions.

Most people interact façade to façade and therefore all anybody gets sight of is some made up projection that people want others to see. Sometimes that façade slips and then one gets a brief sight of that which people seek to hide from others.

In Breaking Bad, the narcotics cop does not suspect Heisenberg, his brother in law, for a very long time.


Who do you think you really know?

Are you accurate in your estimation?

Or are there many assumptions?

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