A dear friend recently invited me, along with a large group, to join him in a suite to attened the Pearl Jam concert at the American Airlines center. Never passing up a good time, not to mention a seat in a suite, I accepted the invitation, although I’m not sure I was looking forward to the concert. There were about twenty people in attendance at dinner beforehand and, like me, a few of us couldn't name any songs Pearl Jam sang. The other attendees, big Pearl Jam fans, assured us that we would know some songs once we heard them.
None of my dinner companions were heavy metal rockers or tattooed groupies. In fact, there were a couple of Doctors, a CFO and the President of a highly successful local company. I wasn't worried; I just attributed the lack of Pearl Jam familiarity to a few years difference in age and a lack of exposure. However, I was certain that Pearl Jam was not going to be my kind of music based on what little I knew of them.
As all concerts go, the band would play a few notes and the crowd would sigh with excitement as the band launched into a fan favorite...None of which I had ever heard before or since. Initially, this was frustrating and I was overall uninterested. Who were all these goof-balls. The music was loud, unfamiliar, and had a bit of a heavier beat than I was used to. I started fiddling with my phone. After checking e-mail, posting a pic on Facebook and tweeting something that made me sound cool to be at the concert, I was done. I found myself looking at my watch.
Bored, I slowly started listening to the music and watching the crowd. The music wasn't ghastly, just not what I was used to. The crowd actually dressed somewhat like me and I could see everyone bobbing their heads to the beat. Next thing I knew, I'm bobbing my head to the beat. The music as it turned out was interesting. Even though I knew none of the songs, the music and fans were growing on me. In fact, by the end of the concert, I was up dancing with the rest of my group... Laughing and having a good time getting into the music.
As the concert ended, I reflected on what had just happened. In the span of a couple of hours, I had gone from a disinterested outsider to a head bobbing Pearl Jam fan. Laughing at myself internally, I thought this odd. In actuality, I had just committed the very un-progressive trait of being somewhat biased against Pearl Jam fans because of what I thought they would be like. In other words, I used my idea of what I thought Pearl Jam played and what type of people I thought attended Pearl Jam concerts to bias my initial attitude of the event and those who would attend it.
Although pleasantly surprised, this whole affair was a little disturbing. Surley, I wouldn’t allow my biases to color my judgment of people would I?
Now, I’m not beating myself up over this. I suppose all of us have preconceived notions that color our attitudes towards things. Like knowing you will not like brussels sprouts even though you’ve never tasted them. [I actually love brussels sprouts.] But I would encourage you to stop, and think about Pearl Jam the next time you turn your nose up at something or someone, because of what you think you know. This was a little life lesson for me. Now punch up Pearl Jam on Pandora and enjoy.