Saturday, January 12, 2013

Like Someone I Know

International Business Times Online
I'm watching Miss America tonight and thinking about "winning".  It seems that the people we want to win are people like us...people we can identify with... because when they win, we win a little.

I was thinking about this because I'd already picked Miss Montana to win, and a large number of people across the nation also picked her to win.  She was America's choice, and the nation's vote put her in the quarter finals.  Now when the semi finals came up, she wasn't chosen.  She was our choice, not the judges.  

At first I was angry.  It seemed to me that she wasn't chosen because she was autistic.  Then it occurred to me that maybe it was the other way around: maybe the nation, knowing next to nothing about her except that she's autistic, voted her in on that alone.  I know I was thinking along those lines.

And then my question is, how prejudicial was my vote? 

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
I had to think about this for a while, because it seems that it's not something that's limited to Miss America.  We choose our class presidents in high school, our president, and our media models based on who we are or who we'd like to be. 

The idea is that it's someone we know... someone who seems to think like us, value the things we value, and so on.  If they are like us in some respect, it's easier to believe they're like us in other respects.

When we're voting in Miss America, perhaps it's less critical.  When we're voting in a president, it's very critical.  We want to feel represented, and we do that by choosing representatives who are most like us... knowing it's not going to be us.

Identifying so closely with these alpha personalities has it's good points, but it also has it's bad, because when they don't "win",  when we see them as "rejected", we take that rejection personally.

I'm sitting here watching Miss America, but I'm barely watching. I no longer care who wins.  The person I identified with most, a young woman who shares a diagnosis with my daughter, is no longer in the competition.  I no longer feel my family is represented, and I'm no longer engaged.