Will Smith

Do You Trust In First Impressions?

I Robot First ImpressionsBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Many of us put a lot of faith in first impressions.  

In the movie I, Robot, the year is 2035, and robots are now a regular part of life as household servants and members of the public service professions.

As the movie opens, Detective Del Spooner has been called in to investigate what appears at first to be the suicide of Dr. Alfred Lanning, a CEO at one of the largest robotics firms. Spooner doesn’t believe Lanning killed himself. How, he asks himself, could a man of Lanning’s age have successfully thrown himself through the safety glass of his office windows?

Spooner goes to investigate Lanning’s office and finds an NS-5 (the most recent robot upgrade) in the office. Spooner believes the robot killed Lanning, despite the fact that the first law of robotics programmed in to all robots is that they cannot harm humans or allow a human to come to harm through inaction.

Spooner goes on a vendetta to prove the NS-5 killed Lanning.

The scientist who’s helping him can’t understand why he’s so determined to prove the NS-5’s guilt until Spooner reveals that a few years earlier he was in a car accident where his car and another were pushed off a bridge by a semi-truck. A robot saw the accident and saved Spooner instead of saving the twelve-year-old girl in the other car. Spooner has hated and distrusted robots ever since.

That one instance, a single impression of the robot’s inability to realize that it should have saved the little girl, formed Spooner’s whole opinion of robots.

It’s not until Spooner can get past the prejudice formed by his “first impression” that he can actually figure out not only who actually killed Lanning but also why.

As I was watching I, Robot, I couldn’t help but wonder how often I’ve been blinded by first impressions too.  

I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of a wrong first impression, and I know how much it can hurt. Midway through my undergraduate university degree, I decided I wanted to go on to a master’s degree once I graduated. A guy I barely knew overheard me talking about it, and later said to a girl he didn’t realize was my friend, “She’ll never make it. She’s not smart enough.”

He made that assumption having no more than a first impression of me. He didn’t know my IQ. He didn’t know my grades. He didn’t know my work ethic. He saw a shy girl who liked (and still likes) to smile a little too much and he made an assumption. A wrong assumption. School was always easy for me.

Thankfully his words wounded nothing more than my pride, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes judging another person on a first impression can have lasting consequences.

I almost missed out on the opportunity for a friendship that’s now lasted for over 20 years because of a wrong first impression.

Those two situations combined have me wonder how many times I’ve trusted my first impressions when I shouldn’t have.

I thought I’d bring the question here and see what all of you thought.

Do you trust in first impressions? Have your first impressions always been right? Why do you think so many of us do trust in first impressions?

If you like suspense, I hope you’ll take a look at my ebook Frozen, on sale over the summer for 99 cents. Twisted sleepwalking. A frozen goldfish in a plastic bag. And a woman afraid she’s losing her grip on reality. 

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Should Some Questions Go Unanswered?

MIB3“Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answer to.”

This is what people tell Agent J (Will Smith) in Men in Black III every time he asks Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), “How did you get this way?”

The whole movie turns on this question.

Boris the Animal, a boglodite (a species of parasite-like aliens), escapes from the LunarMax prison on the moon, and travels back in time to kill a young Agent K before K blows off Boris’s arm in 1969. Boris succeeds and puts the earth in grave danger of being invaded by the boglodites. Agent J has to go back in time to save K and the earth.

When we got in the car after the movie, my husband gave me a pointed look. “Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answer to. Sounds like a lesson someone I know should learn.”

“In what way?”

Deadpan, in a perfect Admiral Ackbar imitation, he said, “It’s a trap!”

And I laughed, not just because we’re Star Wars nerds, but because, in a way, my husband was right. Women are particularly fond of asking questions we don’t need or want the answer to.

Do these jeans make my butt look big?
Do you think she’s prettier than me?
What do you think of my hair?

We force people to lie to us, or get angry with them when they don’t.

Not every question should be asked. Not every question should be answered. Some questions only torment us and the person we ask.

But sometimes, even if we don’t want the answer, we may need it.

Through the Men in Black series, Agent J believes his father chose to be absent while he was growing up. He carried around a lot of resentment and pain. Because he refuses to stop asking and refuses to accept anything less than an answer, he finds out the truth. His father was a hero who died helping Agent K save the world from Boris the Animal.

And what was it that made K the way he is? Seeing the young James (Agent J) hop out of the nearby Jeep only moments after his father is killed and ask about his dad. K flashed him with his memory eraser so that he wouldn’t remember being there.

Knowing that answer helped J both personally in accepting that his father didn’t willingly abandon him, and professionally in understanding and appreciating his partner more. The answer hurt him, but it also helped him.

The same can be true for us, but the tricky part is learning the difference between a question we don’t want to know the answer to yet need to, and a question we ask out of our own insecurity or immaturity.

Did you cheat on me?
Are you still drinking?
Is my novel ready to publish?
Do I need to lose weight?

The answers to those types of questions might hurt. We might not really want to know. But knowing the answer is for the best.

How do you figure out whether a question you don’t really want to know the answer to is one you need to ask anyway?

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