Saturday, February 26, 2005

Labeling: A Dangerous Habit. . .

Bernie works at the National Grocers in Podunk, Somewhere. He's been working there for 45 years. He is a professional labeler. A jar of pickles comes down the conveyor belt and he slaps on a sticker. It's his job to make sure you know what is inside the contents of each product. It is rather important too. Without those handy stickers then you might be bringing home Argentinian Fried Beets when you really wanted Angolan Raw Beets. It is just a horror to imagine such things. Bernie is good at what he does. Let Bernie do his job and don't even think about trying to do it yourself.

Labeling. I'm guilty of it. I'm pretty sure there are many people reading this that are just as guilty. We meet someone and we decide to put them in a neatly defined category. 5 minute conversation and we decide we know the person entirely. We know how they act in all situations and we know every single of their thoughts. We know this because we put them in this really nice category. We inserted them right into a box. A box that they aren't allowed to leave. We've plotted out the road for their life and they can't deviate from the path. We've decided to be Bernie but not with bottled beets but with people. People aren't beets and they don't need to be labeled.

I don't know what it is about human nature; but somehow, we feel life is a whole lot easier if we give people defined roles. The guy across the room is the slacker loser that will never accomplish anything; while that pretty girl in the corner is self involved and selfish; don't forget that man sitting down who is a workaholic probably destroying his family. People are seen as caricatures. They are one dimensional. They only have a certain set of traits and can never ever change. Somebody change? For the better? Impossible. Two sides to a person? Can't happen.

Why do we have this need to label? Why do we count people out? The scariest thing is, they are usually self fulfilling prophecies. We push someone until they end up doing what we believed they would do all along. We ignore any time they may do something outside of their designated box.

You can only tell someone they are a loser so many time until they believe it. A person can be called a 'bitch' only for so long until they will act like one. If your convinced someone is a certain way then it will be pretty hard for them to ever change that in your mind. They are labeled now and your not ready to take off the sticker.

I'm not accusing anyone of these things. I'm guilty. I admit it. I feel it is one of the worse habits that is amongst society. I think it is responsible for so many self esteem issues. It's also responsible for friction between people when it doesn't have to be there.

I have been called sickenly optimistic in the past. But I really believe that the majority of people have some form of good in them. A lot of people do want to do the right thing. Maybe those problems you see in people, they are desperately trying to fix them. We need to give people that chance. The chance to change. The chance to rip off that unwanted label.

Leave the stickers for Bernie and his many bottles of beets.

2 comments:

  1. GO SPICEY! I think you're totally right. W/o UNlabeling people, we'll never know who they COULD be, or want to be, just what we assume they are. I'm not an optimistic person, as you know, and am an awful labeler, but people need someone to believe in them, and that means not labeling, I wanna support not tear down, cause i was always supported by MY family. Good blog.

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  2. Way to go spicer....another one of your great writings that keep people reading your blog. or at least it keeps me reading it. anyways....i liked it.
    -k

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