When Generalizations Are Negative (and not necessarily true)

Remember the red cups firestorm a couple months ago? I avoided saying anything about it. I didn’t want to give it any more attention. I still don’t. So, this post isn’t specifically about red cups. It’s about what the red cup incident reveals to us and what we can learn from it.

The red cup tirade was attributed to “some Christians” who were bent out of shape , crying foul that a company didn’t recognize their personal beliefs. But it started with one person’s rant. One person. I personally know no Christian who was upset about the cups. I saw no posts that supported the one person’s rant. I only heard and read perspectives that basically cried, “Who cares?!” But the red cup firestorm showed us that one person’s rant can be generalized or attributed to a whole group, even if the overwhelming majority doesn’t back up the rant. It was negative press, but we still shared it and talked about it as if it was a big issue. Instead of simply saying, “I don’t agree. End of story.,” we took offense but kept it viral.

The generalizations are far and wide and usually spread faster and farther when they have a negative tone. And Christians aren’t the only targets. Muslims. Gun-control activists. Gun-rights activists. Police officers. Black teens. Mentally ill persons. Foreigners. And the list goes on.

How badly do we detest other people’s generalizations of what we believe and how we think and respond to things? Maybe we need to start with a more reflective question: How do we personally generalize from one person to many in everyday circumstances?

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