Thursday, March 8, 2012

Unintentional Bias

I was participating in a discussion on facebook a few days ago. It was about kids staying up late.

Someone had said that it was "inconvenient for kids to stay up late" and I disagreed. I don't think it is inconvenient, in and of itself, for kids to stay up late. It depends.

My kids have always stayed up later than is generally typical- but I stay up late, too. We are pretty much a family of night owls. I wish that in addition to 24 hour grocery stores, we could have 24 hour book stores and/or libraries.

Since for most of their lives, we havent' had any sort of schedule that would require people to get up early in the morning, it really has not been an issue for us to say up late, and then sleep late in the morning.

After I posted something about that, the very next comment pointed out to me that I have a bias that is something I hadn't even thought about for a second.

We don't have neighbors near enough to hear us.

Many people live in situations where they are in close quarters with other people, whether it's extended family, or they are in an apartment, or the houses are close together.  Having a child stay up late- and be noisy- could cause a very real problem.

The conversation moved on to talk about common courtesy, and being respectful and considerate to other people.

Even so.
I found it interesting that the idea of needing to be quiet because of very close neighbors simply didn't cross my mind, since it isn't our situation, and never has been.

I've seen other people have biases, or assumptions, that are similar in nature, if not in content. Like people suggesting we take a bus somewhere. Or order food to be delivered. The only bus here goes by twice a day, and the only possible delivery food comes from the gas station down the road in the next town. They do make good pizza, but they lack in variety.

My experience this week, of stumbling across a bias that was so invisible to me, was a great reminder to examine what I think and say, on a regular basis, to be sure I'm not making unfounded assumptions that I'm not even aware of. Also, a reminder that many times, communication is complicated when there are unrecognized assumptions.

I'm very accustomed to recognizing other people's biases.
Not always so perfect at seeing my own!

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