Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Inadequacy Of Labels

I'm not the only person who has noticed this. Labels change how we view people. It takes about five minutes after we have met someone to form an opinion of them. Five minutes to put them in a box. Five minutes for us to make them 'fit' somewhere in our heads. "Creative." "Chick magnet." "Nice girl." "The Extrovert." "The quiet one." It's not always bad to 'label' people. If they're creative then they're creative, yes? But it's not always good, either.

I think sometimes we trap the deeper and more complex parts of our aquaintances in these boxes. In making them fit into our one, non-comprehensive label, we abandon any other characteristics they may have as less important, and not as much a part of 'them'. Yes, your new aquaintance is an extrovert. So? Half the population of the planet is too. She is not 'the extrovert', she is 'an extrovert'. Congratulations. Well done. Your skills of perception are unrivalled.
Before you label her on sight, go deeper. Go deeper with everyone. There is more to every person in the universe than meets or has met the eye, even after years and years of aquaintance. Don't box a complex soul into a single word or few. It isn't right.

Not only that.

Labelling others doesn't just affect our perception of them, it affects their perception of themselves. When someone is categorised as one thing over and over and over again, they begin to doubt their ability to be anything else. The label becomes an identity, and it is hard to escape. Being called Leslie all your life makes it difficult to come to terms with the fact that you are actually a Helen.

Do you see?

Labels are not only entirely inadequate to capture, in full, 'the person'. They are also, most often,



Anonymous said...

Very well said Imogen! I love reading your writing! Very impacting! I love you lots! <3 <3 <3

Laura said...

I also look forward to your posts Imogen! They always inspire me, or encourage me, and are very this one. You are very talented with your writing! :)

India said...

I really love this Ginny. So very true, especially the idea that labels become the labeled person's limitations. Beautiful writing, once again. :)

Lauren said...

I do so much agree! I've experienced being the subject of someone's labelling, it can be really hard when you just want people to look a little deeper then that.

Connor Grzesiak said...

Brilliant. Indeed, putting a label on this post might achieve the very fallacy you have identified. Keep it up.

Connor :)