First impressions aren't always the most reliable

Carter Haydu
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Venus was once considered Earth's 'sister planet.' Earlier astronomers looked upon this celestial body as possibly teeming with life — an enchanted paradise befitting its namesake.

Of course, that is not the case. American probe Mariner 2 and Soviet probe Venera 4 glimpsed the planet's almost unimaginably thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid cloud cover, exposing a nightmarish world with temperatures reaching 500 C and virtually no protective magnetic shield.

It is true Venus was once covered in ocean and was, at one time, much more similar to Earth. However, a runaway greenhouse effect slowly raised the planet's temperature and, over time, the oceans evaporated away and what remained more and more resembled Hell. As long as people have observed the skies, Venus has been this way.

It's interesting how one's perception of something can be so far off from the actuality of the situation. Whereas Venus was once considered almost a 'second Earth,' in truth it's similarities ended with approximate size and distance from the sun. These two planets hardly seem like siblings at all.

Similarly, I imagine, was the experience of eating the first raw oyster. I imagine that poor individual must have been almost starving as he gazed upon that disgusting mollusk and struggled with his own hunger versus the prospect of actually eating that slimy repugnant sea monster.

However, as he must have discovered once upon a time, and as many of us know today, raw oysters are delicious.

What could be better than that delicate seawater morsel?

It's a simple lesson, but one for which we human apes could stand to receive a gentle reminder — things aren't always what they may seem.

For example, our brains' have an uncanny knack for creating a pattern of thinking around any new experience and thus relating to a particular subject matter either negatively or positively based on the initial mental composition. But first impressions are not always accurate.

Believe it or not, I too am an imperfect being and on more than one occasion I have not been quite as "president and CEO of the Awesome Factory" as I could be when meeting new people. In fact, historically I tend towards awkward first encounters - it's all part of the plight of the sarcastic.

However, whether it's a bad first impression I've made on someone, or else a bad one someone has made on me, it seems typical for a gradual evolution towards kinship if we're in proximity long enough.

I think, given enough time and familiarity, almost everyone has the potential to be friends with anyone.

But it sure is simpler if one can make a good impression from day one. In my own experiences, I find this to be the case anyway. And I should know, as part of my job is simply making good impressions on people so they'll talk to me for whatever stories I'm writing.

My advice to all those wanting to make good first impressions is simple. Firstly, be clear in what you say.

Sarcasm is great, but when first meeting someone it's probably best to assume they'll take everything you say literally. Confusing a potential new acquaintance is not the best way to make friends.

Secondly, be positive. While offloading about how much your day sucks can be a cathartic experience between two people who know each other, anyone new probably would be offset by such a negative onslaught. Don't be a hater.

Thirdly, show interest and concern for the other person. That's pretty self-explanatory, but it's amazing how often folks will be so self-absorbed (myself included) when conversing with someone new, he or she feels invisible.

First impressions are important; simply consider Venus and the raw oyster.

While many people would still gaze into the heavens and consider Earth's sister planet as goddess-like and beautiful, there are still those who would never eat an uncooked oyster — even though we now know the truth regarding both.


Carter Haydu can be reached at 691-1265.

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