What you see isn’t always what you get
By Teppei, Contributor
I could not have disagreed more with the lies that my room or ‘my belongings’ would tell others about myself.
One of the big changes—and one of the very few positive ones—that this pandemic has brought about is the replacement of most in-person meetings with video conferences. We all know how despicable it is having those long commutes just to discuss something that could be solved within fifteen minutes through any better means. Now, we get out of bed, brew some coffee, turn the computer on, and are already halfway to a solution. All while wearing long johns in the comfort of our own homes.
It’s most intriguing how these cyber meetings allow us a glimpse into everyone’s intimate quarters. For instance, in my last meeting, one of the attendee’s background showed a wall with a window in the center and two shelves flanking it holding books, trinkets, and an attention stealing abundance of plants. I did not actually count them, but I would say there were about 35 of them. I told myself, “This guy is really into plants.”
When the meeting ended, I started looking around my own place and cataloging plants in my home. I counted 23, even though I purchased not even one of them let alone know their names or what kind of light they need to survive as they are my partner’s plants. The part of my house I had as a background did not show the plants but instead one of our shelves containing mostly books, none of which were my own. Those books, like the plants, were all my partner’s; I keep mine in a different room.
I realized that these people have most likely formed their own idea (at least part of it) of what I am and what I like based on “my” possessions just like I have just done with “the plant guy.”
It reminded me of the time when one of my screenwriting professors taught us to use dialogue only as the last resort to sharing information about a character. The main source to portray a character should be themselves: what they wear, the items they carry, their personal environment, and how they would decorate and arrange it. We were assigned to describe our bedrooms to provide the class with information about who we were. Even though I completely understand and agree with what he was teaching us and how it applies to screenwriting, I could not have disagreed more with the lies that my room or “my belongings” would tell others about myself.
The main piece of decoration on my walls was a six-by-four foot framed canvas; a spray-painted portrait of Bob Marley playing guitar which my dad bought for me when I started learning how to play the guitar. I was 14-years old and into emo and metalcore at the time he gave it to me—far from Bob Marley. On the wall across from the painting, there was one big bookshelf filled up with dozens of old books about anatomy, kinesiology, psychology, and sports that my parents had acquired 30 years before when they were studying physical education in university. Even the old sheets I had on my bed were purchased before I was born. You get the idea; I did not care about how my room looked—I only used it for sleeping, anyways.
We know (or must know) that judging people based on their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, and basically anything that they don’t get to choose is wrong, so why would we judge people based on their possessions? Sometimes we don’t get to choose what we own either, or those possessions could say more about everything that we are not than what we are. There will always be more than meets the eye. For all I know, this guy might just have been plant sitting.