First Impression Is A Big Deal


I welcome esteemed readers to this column. I hope to use this medium as an avenue to share my thoughts, both those spoken out loud in the comfort of my own company and the often-repeated whispers that are hard to ignore.

As technology proliferates interruptions in my thought process, it has become highly imperative to keep track of some of these thoughts and just share. The danger of not sharing, as many have experienced, is that when you get frequently inundated with trending hashtags, news and memes, it becomes difficult to hold a thought between consecutive news feeds.

Most of the thoughts I will be sharing are no different from the quizzical ones you have when you see something unusual while driving alone or those you develop in the middle of a random conversation. Since these are things I have said to myself in the past and because I am hoping that for a minute I will have the reader’s attention, I have considered naming this column Sulai’s Soliloquy. Until someone suggests a better title or something more apt pops up in my news feed, this column is going to be titled Sulai’s Soliloquy.

My first thought is one that I assume is either popular among people who find time to ponder on the elements of their perception or one that will strike familiar chords in people who are yet to do so – which elements form our first impression? Understanding that this might be as open-ended as any question can get, I hope to brace the reader for the quizzical nature of future thoughts.

I expect that reactions will span a spectrum from agreeable to superstitious. I should add that I am as naïve as the average person when identifying the elements of my first impression. Being naïve however has its advantages, one of which is that it presents me with an opportunity to explore.

How do I form my first impression? What stereotypes do I default to at the mention of a person’s occupation or music taste? However realistic or superstitious, do my perceptions hold true for all kinds of people at all times? If my perceptions were subject to a white box test and an unprejudiced third person had to listen to my thought process as I decided what kind of person you were, would the third person consider my perception distorted or logical?

I don’t have the right answers to the above questions but the essence of asking them is the fulcrum of perception engineering. Would it be possible for me or the reader to effectively argue that the elements of my first impression belong to me alone?  How would I argue that other people’s experiences and opinions of the person I am meeting for the first time does not influence my first impression?

I also think about first impression in an online space, the kind of elements that form my thoughts about people from what they tweet, share or post. Such an impression might be a dimension away from reality, but still has a huge influence when I actually meet that person or becomes the only factor if I never meet that person.

When in a situation where I finally meet a person that I had first met online and there are differing impressions from both experiences, what are the options to consider? It might be natural to choose the in-person version of my impression but do I call that a first impression or an impression strong enough to discard my first (online) impression.

As I think of deciding whether to consider the strongest impression or my first impression, I hope the reader has already asked the question – what’s the big deal about a first impression anyway? Or maybe the reader has even thought, who cares about first impression beyond the cliché – first impression lasts longer. If you are a reader whose first impression has prompted the desire to contribute your thoughts on this article, please do so after reading the paragraph below.

For the reader: Are first impressions or any impressions worth anything to you? What are your first impressions worth and how correct have they been in the past? Are you able to identify elements that either led you to develop a logical first impression or a distorted one? I invite readers to share opinions, critique my logic and proffer any thoughts with other readers and myself.

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