It’s time to abandon labels
We are living in the age of labels – from our sexuality, to the generation we belong to, even to our fashion preferences. Everything we do and are equate to a title we’ve created, but do we truly embrace each other by labelling ourselves into smaller categories?
Most of our conversations when meeting new people consists of getting one or two-word answers to simplistic and mostly unnecessary questions. For example, people’s bios (which, being short for biography, shows how we regard the history of someone in our fast-moving world) on social media sites generally contain their name, age, sex and gender.
It is now becoming commonplace for these bios to also declare one’s fashion statements, astrological signs, and even letters that may indicate their personality type, amongst many other definitive and unique pieces of information about that person.
All these definitions of our personality are a demand to be treated in a particular kind. It is quite simple – we’ve grown too used to receiving individual and personal treatment from casual marketing policies. Now, we want to make sure we receive such special treatments in our personal dynamics; but this search for uniqueness results in self-induced social-alienations. Labels will never feel comfortable – they’re for marketable goods, not human beings.
This materialisation of the human spirit creates an abyss of loneliness in our daily interactions. While we degrade our character into simple words, trying to live up to standardized personalities, we become so obsessed with the act we put on, we struggle to see beyond it.
The eagerness to accept the personalities of labels created by survey researchers and marketing companies is of course tied to our core desire to be accepted. However, people not questioning our personality beyond these simplistic words is not an acceptance, but is only ignorance.
We are not truly accepting each other by saying we recognise the existence of their said labels; we are ignoring them so that we could return to gazing into our own mirrors full of letters.
“Approved attributes and their relation to face make every man his own jailer; this is a fundamental social constraint even though each man may like his cell”. – Erving Goffman remarked years before the internet.
Now our cell is ‘livelier’ with the contribution of the internet – our self-perceptions are sharpened and every label we write on the walls of our cells conjures one more lock on the heavy doors of our freedom to connect with the world. We don’t realize the existence of our cells but complain about the disconnection the internet created.
Let us consider the world from a distance, through the gaze of an other-worldly being. Aren’t we all human? Lost infinitesimally in this vast universe? We must then cling to one another in our small existence, not widen the distance between our temperaments. However, we’ve divided ourselves into categories even smaller than our diminutive existence.
We’ve started assigning roles to certain labels and in every instance, we didn’t feel comfortable with these assigned roles. So as a result, we created even more labels rather than stripping the labels out of the roles assigned to them so casually.
Superficial and baseless labelling also results in quick judgments of character. We’ll decide not to question someone’s personality beyond a word, thinking we have an understanding of their personality through some naming.
We’re putting other people and ourselves into boxes, every breathing creature will understandably feel uncomfortable in a box. It is not surprising we are uncomfortable too, but the solution is not about creating more boxes to fit us personally, or boxes that make you feel special. We’ve become so distraught in our search for the most special and perfect label that we’re employing character complexes as a means of personality.
While talking about our troubles – a friend of mine mentions not feeling like the main character of her life. She complains she felt uninteresting and unpopular, so must therefore not be the main character of her own story. It is perfectly normal to perceive ourselves, but most of us can’t stop the perception outside the body, disconnected from the soul.
We have lost our natural gaze that comes from within and employed the camera’s objective, filming ourselves in our heads. We are living underwater, drowning in our perceptions like the mythical Narcissus.
We’re even proud of acting as if we were characters. Have we forgotten that characters are only vessels to carry stories? Turning ourselves into cardboard vessels with letters written all over like tattoos is not a means of happiness. We’re just contributing to a mass culture of divergence.
The egocentric obsession to create a publicised image of ourselves through labels that are known by others, spending our lives in this turmoil of pressure into convincing others that we are important, that the world was created for our story is a soft invitation to endless alienation.
Salvation lies not in having others believe in our importance, but in proving to others that the world was created for our simultaneous existence. The trick is to look away from our mirrors and into the face of others – to look beyond their labels they’ve adopted to explain their soul.