The Intrepid Explorer – June 10

I believe that all lives are much too exhibiting with vast and different qualities and aspects while being alive with contradictions to be safely categorized for unsecured safety. Because of this, we place a plethora of labels to contain the chaos of what is now, manipulated life.

We spend too much time and effort with our own unclassifiable lives separating, organizing and assigning some type of assemblage into a cluster that, for the most part, cannot be managed. Perhaps what would be kinder and more calming would be the refusal to strike vigorously and reprove someone with a label to make them comfortable to you. Complexity does not fit into a category, yet it has a phylum and all its departments are fact.

We, as humans, have found too much comfort in labels. They help us to compartmentalize situations and behaviors. Proclaiming a label is often communicating something about ourselves by sheepishly proclaiming, “I’m not that.”

However, when we label a person by their behavior and characteristics, we are limiting our curiosity about that person. Our interest can end in exploring a connection with someone because we think we know who they are and that it might not align with our value system.

Labels may help process the world around us, but with regards to people, they are rarely helpful. Instead, they blind us from the richness and diversity of life.

Labels are a form of reductionism; they seek to describe someone using a small number of core characteristics. But that’s not how people work. People tend to be a confused and chaotic mixture of thoughts, feelings and actions. People are messy, contradictory and filled with emotion.

It’s not uncommon for someone to have an opinion, or hold a belief that doesn’t exactly match their actions or have an internal battle between morals and motives that don’t quite align. Labels don’t allow for such complexity. They serve to define a person based on a single thing.

Labels can wrongly surmise other characteristics in a person. We tend to believe that labels can be easily grouped together so that a person who fits one label is likely to fit another. We think that once we know something about a person, we can arrange their entire personality. When they may prove themselves to be different then what we thought, it can be difficult to shift perspective.

Labels are biased. You might see someone and believe them to be a certain type of person based on your first impressions of them. You then assign them a label of your choosing, yet someone else might view the same person in a completely different way and will assign their own label.

Your label is no more right than someone else’s, so you have to question the point of labeling anyone in the first place. Of course, it could also be that you assigned your label to someone after a particular interaction and someone else assigned their label after a very different interaction.

We all have our ups and downs, our good days and our bad days. If you caught someone on a bad day, they might have come across as irritable or argumentative. Lack of sleep, troubles in other parts of our lives, hormones and many other things can affect a person’s demeanor at a particular point in time.

This same person may, at other times, be very pleasant and likeable, but if you assign a label based only on what you experience, it won’t reflect this. Labels are inflexible. People, not so much. Though not everybody wishes to change, everybody does in some way or another as they go through life. The labels we give others make it difficult for us to recognize or accept this change.

Change of any sort becomes far more difficult to see and accept once we have given someone a particular label because to admit that they have changed is to admit that you were wrong to give them that label. We all know that humans can have a hard time admitting they were wrong.

Labels go beyond our personality traits. Society labels people based on categorizations. These social labels can also shape our perspective of the world and ourselves. It doesn’t take long to look and see that so many labeled categories are parading and flaunting their labels while condemning someone else’s.

Social labels immediately place a whole set of expectations in your lap because of things you can’t necessarily control, like your gender, race or sexual orientation. Labeling people can be problematic, if not outright dangerous, when they form the basis of a person or culture’s prejudice and hatred.

With the fear of labeling, are we, as a whole, idling in neutral, waiting to hopefully wake up and entertain better patterns of being alive in the here and now? We are being buried beneath the weight of endless information, which has been mislabeled knowledge. At the same time, we are quietly consumed with the over abundance of wealth. We have become the dancing monkey, controlled with what we are being told is the way towards contentment and happiness. - dbA

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