What if, for one day, there were no labels? What if we were human beings without the defining stifling labels? Would people be able to interact with each other?
The answer lies in the reason some folks insist on labeling others. (Please note: we are not referring to paper tags stuck on foreheads; although that would be helpful at times.) We use labels to categorize who people are and how to deal with them. It is a crutch we pod people use to interact with one another. But, is it right?
In the minds of Labelers, it is difficult if not impossible to deal with anyone without the security of sorting them first. It is almost as if they carry around a guidebook directing them how to talk with Subject A in Category 1 or Subject B from Category 4. It is tidy, but life is never that simple.
Sometimes the mental contortions people go through to pigeonhole others into neat little boxes is fascinating. Such Herculean efforts are even more entertaining when we see, but they do not, that performing the equivalent of forcing a square peg into a round hole is an exercise in futility. Were we to explore the mental state of such determined folks, we may discover perfect examples of Einstein’s definition of insanity. (Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.)
Most people are far too complex to fit into the tidy boxes others pick for them. Even the cuckoo birds of humanity have layers. Sometimes it’s just more layers of cuckooness, but they do have multiple facets.
The urge and perhaps the need to classify people is a security blanket. The security blanket is more than it seems as well. We all cloak ourselves in such blankets to hide from the quick judgments we might receive but which we readily make about each other.
As people become more and more insular, they lose basic social skills, thanks, in part, to not-so-social social media. Just because you sit in front of your computer in varying stages of dress or undress and barf your limited wisdom to the nameless horde, that is not social.
Consequently, when folks find themselves in a face-to-face situation, they look for a “hook” or “visual label.” Without such clues, they do not know how to interact with others, especially strangers. In many ways, categorizing people is reminiscent of high school cliques. You had the popular/pretty people, the jocks, the nerds, the goths, blah, blah, and blah.
Classmates lumped into a particular group were treated differently from those in another group. Strange as it may seem and whether folks admit to it or not, this high school classification mindset is still with us and part of our adult lives.
For example, you may smile at an attractive person and ignore or look past the average person. You may be polite and open a door for an attractive person, while the average girl or guy will be lucky if the door does not smack them on the rump as you rush past.
When we were young, we played with each other and had fun together. Then, adult comments and labels contaminated our innocent egalitarian view of each other, and the creeping categorization process began. Suddenly, a child we played with yesterday was now too poor, too skinny, too fat, too whatever we were not supposed to like.
Why not erase the label and deal with the human standing before you? What a concept!
If we designated a label-free day, would panic and confusion reign in the hearts of the labelers? Would anyone know how to interact? After decades of classification conditioning, would there be 24 hours of chaos or the silence of deep space?
The truth is categorizing is lazy and dumb. But the Labelers outnumber the rational few. Consequently, by tolerating Labelers’ crutches, rational folks are caring for dumb animals.