Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Social Labels

As you read in my previous post, defining things is essential to knowing what they are. The same principle applies to people. As much as everybody likes to deny it, we actually label people, we do it either consciously or subconsciously. But it facilitates everything.

 If you want to refer to somebody who annoyed you once you say "  I was walking the other day window shopping and suddenly a jerk bumps into me!". They word " jerk" is now what you need to say in order to let everybody know about whom you are talking. For instance " Remember the jerk, well he also..." . You don't have to say anything else. They know who he is now, THE jerk.

That's the lightest version of social labelling, what happens if you refer to somebody, and you characterize them based on their appearance , behavior or even the way they walk?
Well hello racism! Nice to see you again.

The worst thing is that if we are indifferent about a person we just met, we still call them by the thing that made the biggest impression on us, which is usually a bad quality... "Hey I met this really weird-looking guy today..." We don't notice other characteristics that might have left a good impression, like how polite the aforementioned guy was.

If we see somebody different than us, like another ethnicity or a homosexual male or female, then their oddity becomes something that everyone from the same "kind" will have . How Latin people are good in bed or how homosexuality means either extreme femininity for men or masculine women. That's what people call a stereotype.

This word derives from the Greek "στερεός" and "τύπος"  which mean "stable or unable to change" and "type" respectively . Which is exactly that, something we take as a given without ever thinking it's not something absolute.
Where I'm trying to get here is that as humans we need to define stuff and people, that's how we function. If only we could see the best in them and not their worst qualities, then we would love to live in this world even more.