Depth Perception

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In this new, complex world, 2D perception is not good enough any more.

I had an “aha” moment from the MetaMeets Dublin 2010 3D Web Conference: Human perception needs and wants a third dimension – call it “depth perception” – in dealing with others.

Consider meeting three strangers at a convenience food store in line to pay the cashier – imagine this scenario:
. The first in line is a woman wearing a scarf around her head.
. Next in line are two teenage boys, speaking loudly.

If you were me, you’d go suddenly very cautious. Is this *gasp* a Muslim? Is this “*gasp* a Gang?

Then, suddenly, the following occurs:
. The woman speaks in perfect, Cambridge-accented English, asking for a purchase receipt.
. The two boys speak, in everyday English, about their Advanced Placement school exams on the morrow, and whether they’ve studied enough yet for them.

If you were me, you’d suddenly relax. It’s OK after all. You might even feel embarrassed at your involuntary reactions.

See what I mean about needing more depth perception?
. The SURFACE dimension was their appearance. It was their stereotype surface appearance that activated my Involuntary Nervous System “Danger Alarm.”
. The DEPTH dimension was what they SAID. These were real people with real, everyday concerns, just like me.

So, until our Social Depth Perception is fully activated, we will continue to react to flat, two-dimensional stereotypes.

In the past, 2D profiling served us (more or less) well. But in this new, complex world, 2D perception is not good enough any more.

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