The value of labels

Sat, Nov 16 2013 06:45pm CST 1
66 Posts
Humans like to categorize and label things. It's simple evolution. If we didn't make any generalizations, we'd never be able to predict the outcomes of our actions, and our ancestors would have killed themselves doing stupid things long before passing on their genes.

That being said, recent history has asked us to not pre-judge other humans based on race, gender, disability, sexuality, or any other one of the infinite ways we could categorize each other. So then what use are these labels?

I think labels are still useful. Before I started calling myself an "MTF butch" or a "butch woman", I felt like an insignificant outlier society doesn't even care enough about to label, which made me feel completely alone. While I agree we are all unique individuals and shouldn't limit ourselves by putting ourselves in boxes, it's nice to feel like you're part of a team: like the way you feel and the challenges you face are shared by others in the world.

Labels can separate people, but used appropriately, they also have the power to bring people together.
Wed, Dec 25 2013 10:50am CST 2
13 Posts
Yep, conceptulizing and naming people and things is a critical part of mind develoment. It is a shortcut to structuring the world around us. Unfortunately our enviroments label people for us. For example, If my parents & society are racists I'll likely be a racist, not always of course.

Seems to me, in our society, one of the first labels our parents and society slap onto us is our gender. Stepping outside that label box can get us hurt.

All of language is symbol/labels. Language is made of symbols. It seems to me that most people find comfort in being able to place everyone into somekind of label box. We all have our attenna up in unfamiliar social situations looking for a threat. If we can quickly evaluate the potiential threat from each person it is advantageous to our survival.

Most unfortunately this social box creation can get horribly out of hand. Too many unfortunate souls have a very narrow sense of respectibility. When someone doesn't fit into one of thier acceptable respectibiltiy boxes some can have something akin to a psychotic break.

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