Friday, December 26

Humans & Labels

Humans are the most fascinating creatures in this part of the galaxy. If Aliens exist, and all these videos of spacecrafts in the sky are their ships, you know what I think they are doing? Watching us in fascination. I bet we are the greatest soap opera in the Milky Way. And the best part is they know that it doesn’t matter if we see them, we still won’t believe in them; just making us more interesting.

We are super complicated, super stupid, and super narrow minded. And yet… we have amazing skills and abilities. We have emotion, creativity, language, music, and the ability to believe anything we wrap our narrow minds around.

To compare humans to any creature on the earth, is to make a short list of similarities. Two eyes, hearing, eats, shits, wants affection, all things of shallow comparison. I’m not saying Humans are better however, Humans are just tremendously complicated. Take music as one example. We use our voice, we use strings, drums, man-made instruments like keyboards and sound mixers, and the result of “music” is magic. So incredibly beautiful I don’t have the skills to describe it easily or quickly. We humans are making that music, we do it alone, together, and it’s full of message and emotion on top of it all. Do you see what I mean by Humans are complicated? We are. There is so much to us. Our health is complicated, our relationships, our talents, our transportation, our homes… you name anything, and you further prove our complication.

I make this complicated point because I want to show that our language skills are too basic for this level of complexity. I have to use endless words to try and explain how I am seeing something, I have to pick my words carefully because if I arrange them a little differently, they mean something else, and I fail at trying to convey what is happening in my mind. I fail at explaining or sharing.

Which brings me to our need for labels. We RELY on labels. They make us feel like we are easily communicating our complicated thoughts, and we even think they organize our complicated existence. “He’s white, she’s fat, I’m Swedish, you’re lazy.” And they get pretty detailed: “You are passive-aggressive. I am intolerant. She has a personality disorder. He is a Jew.”

We use them to represent more than one thing. A label is the best word for it because just like in a filing cabinet, you label a folder and then proceed to fill that folder with things that fit under that label. It’s natural for us, it’s what we do, and as I said, we rely on these labels to make our complicated thoughts easier to explain.

And why do we need to explain our thoughts? I think we need to explain them because we need to understand ourselves. I don’t mean we label others because we don’t know who we are. I mean that labeling others means that we organize our life and relationships under these labels in our mental filing cabinet, so that we can easily know what we believe. “Here is how I am seeing this, here is how I am reacting. Here is what I think, here is what I am feeling.” For some of us it’s a way to only look at the label on the file, and avoid all the things living in the file. The label is easier for us to process and deal with.

Which is why I’m now going to say, I see labels as counter-communication. They are the short version, so they are the easy out. It’s like insisting on not seeing what lives in the folder. As though the label is plenty of information, and people who become so label-loving tend to be more hardened people. They don’t want to listen, they know everything, and they believe their labels are more accurate than anybody else’s. Their labels become “truth”. Their communication is shallow with a reliance on labels, and then they become harmful.

Harmful in a slight sense, where they damage good relationships, but also harmful in an exact sense when people are lessened by being labeled. Which needs more clarification… If I call someone by a label, I have the ability to affect how they see themselves. The label-lovers know this, and they most often use labels to be harmful and to make themselves more right. Not necessarily more right in everyone’s eyes, but possibly more right in their own eyes, and a few others.

Think right now of someone you know who is a label-lover. You immediately know how they see many of the people around them, and you very possibly know how they see you… what labels have they given you? Their labeling nature may have something to do with how you see yourself. Yes?  If so, is it a negative or self-esteem-damaging view? Yes? (you don’t surprise me.)

Now think of someone who is NOT a label-lover. Think of how they see you. Have they told you who you are, or have they conveyed how they see you over time?

What I’m trying to point out is how detrimental and yes, harmful the labeling people are. They are not uplifting, they are not easy to be around, and they are always right with a closed mind.

I would like to suggest we all pay more attention to the action of labeling. Notice when you do it, when others do it, and whether or not it’s a positive or helpful thing. Our amazing Human skills don’t require us to use labels, we don’t have to be narrow minded, and even when it’s frustrating to have to use so many words to explain yourself, the benefit of taking the time to do so is obvious and it’s using the skills you have, which is a complicated body and mind. (One that Aliens would come here to watch. ;)

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