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  • Writer's picturePoetic PIXELS

The Labels We Wear: A Closer Look at Social Stereotypes

Vegan- Fat- Lazy- Selfish- Pushy- Vain- Greedy- Feisty- Beautiful- Weak- Fake- Bright- Ugly- Nerd- Stupid- Freak- Worthless– Boring– Emo– Hyper– Crazy– Retard– Psycho– Weird– Lousy- Homo and so on.

Recognize any of these? Chances are you do. They're labels, tags we or society attach to people, including ourselves. I've always been uncomfortable with labels.

Society uses them to classify, identify and group people. And I use them to help myself fit into that society. Largely, people are concerned less with personal accomplishment than they are public accolades. This perhaps, is why society has such high regard and distinguish for degrees, rank, status, position ect..

I have achieved personal successes without acknowledgement or receipt of any honorary plaque, certificate or memento. Yet I consider myself just as mastered in my accomplishments, well enough to have. I am self taught in many areas. Among the ones I am most proud, are the fields of literature (namely creative writing), photography and poetry. As I maneuver society, I have developed a need to want to understand social and mental psychology. People are peculiar and I am curious what shapes their eccentrism. I have recently discovered sociologist Irvin Goffman and his incredible book, "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life". In it, Goffman dissects many of the enigmatic and perplexing identities we assume. He interprets this behavior and compares it to being an actor on a stage.

Is it shame and fear of judgement, that I introduce myself to others by what it is I do for a living? Am I so afraid to be looked upon poorly if my occupation doesn't satisfy the taste of my audience? Does my level of schooling, if lower than my audience mean that I am intellectually inferior? Does the car I drive impart the the amount of financial resource or capacity that I am equipped? Does the category of my living arrangement (Rent vs. Own) imply my economic prowess or blunder? Does the geographical location where I might have been raised determine my trustworthiness? Does the marital status of my parents disclose my faithfulness? Does the part of town (Good vs. Bad) I reside help you form an opinion of the person that I am or the company that I keep? Does the music I listen to benefit your judgement of my character? Does my age equal my level of maturity?

No doubt you have been asked many if not all of these types of questions in social settings. Why are these the types of questions most wish to know upon initially meeting? Surely, in these perilous times we live, we can find more substantiated topics of inquiry?

The answers to these questions help label us.

I still without understanding why am so anxious to be acknowledged and fearful of being judged, that I embrace and allow the label to become me. It represents me.

I gladly accept all praise by others who admire the esteemed labels. After all, its frowned upon to be anything other than academically/economically successful. Right?

Its sort of like a math equitation when you think about it.

Asking what it is you do for a

living, means one is trying to ascertain how much money you make? This measure of financial success is factored into your social status which in turn places you in or outside of certain social bubbles, qualifying you for certain social considerations or not. Attaching cliché and stereotypes. In a very kind of superficial way, it can even shape others opinions of you. Taught to us early on, this type of reasoning comes to consume us. It is the brainchild of a Machine whose agenda is social conditioning. Even in the most arbitrary of human interactions, I am slave to this very conditioning.

We are socialized to contribute to this Machine and while doing so, create personas that we deceptively pass off as identities. As we navigate the many different facets of society, we overcome obstacles not intrinsic to Human biological and collective progression. As we overcome these obstacles, we are considered to be accomplished and achieved. We then set out compare and contrast those achievements among others we might meet in society. You measure ones achievements against your own. But why? The ideology of the systems we employ are destructive and competitive, giving us a false sense of reality.

Then, perhaps there is the need to validate your life and worth. If you out perform your audience, (especially in similar age groups) you surpass them socially. If you surpass them socially, you disassociate yourself, furthering the gap of separation. Connection cannot live here.

Things like academic achievement, home and vehicle ownership ect are non-essential components of life on this planet. Rather systems and ways of life that we have developed and adopted. It is considered bizarre not to adhere to these developments.

Following these systems of conventional comparative existence, our lives are guided by a narrative that is foreign and adventitious. Genuine personhood is negated if we live pre-described lives.

When is the last time you conversed with someone and enjoyed fellowship with no agenda where you were trying to gain insight into their personal socioeconomic status? Or better yet, when is the last time you conversed with someone and took more than their name and income bracket away? When is the last time you came home and told your wife that you met a beautiful human being today? When is the last time you had an exchange that was mutually beneficial? When is the last time you were moved to change your life based on a conversation you had with someone you just met?

With everything trying to separate and divide us, how can we use our commonalities to get back to eachother?

There is a label to classify us all - HUMAN BEING! This label must come to be recognized before all others.

~Solidarity

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