I feel like it's easy to categorize people. With the internet, we forge countless new connections and read stories about a hundred more on a regular basis. It becomes natural for our brain to cope with this unprecedented volume of input by sorting patterns of people into neat little categories.
As we accumulate more life experiences, we learn to understand that these social categories aren't clear-cut. People are complex and defy categorization--to those who are willing to suspend their preconceptions.
To counteract the automatic brain response to receiving a glut of information daily, I think it's worth talking to other people about their lives. There is always something new to learn and knowledge to iterate.
It can be frustrating talking to people that wholeheartedly believe in the value of alternative medicine, such as the healing powers of foods like swallow nest, shark fin, or chlorophyll.
Or to deal with the elderly lady who's holding up the line at the Costco kiosk, asking for service on a too-old phone she didn't even purchase there.
Or to handle with a father who believes that a cigarette a day does no harm to the body.
Or to argue with someone who just uses her religion when convenient or believes that a monetary donation to a temple guarantees an auspicious rebirth.
(Obviously, I've had sort of a day.)
But probably a significant population in the world are superstitious, willfully ignorant, circumstantial decision-makers, faithful-because-it-hasn't-failed-yet, or consequence-blithe. Rather than being upset or angry at these people for their decisions, I think it's worth building a relationship from a place of empathy.
Today I've also met a multilingual young man who works four jobs--all in customer service--out of necessity, with a tinge of resentment at the way companies work. I've also met a humble foreign-born architect who felt immensely grateful for landing a job at a great firm in SF rather quickly, but acknowledges he came to America at an odd time politically.
The more people I talk to, the more genuinely I become interested and invested in their life stories. In the big picture, talking to people is certainly helping me to hold my tongue and judgment more often.