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LABELING LIZARDEK
left-handed, democrat, artist, wife, writer, military brat, agnostic, club member, geek, alto, blogger, expat, american, mother, moderate, big sister, daughter, ex-girlfriend, leo, anal-retentive, singer, forty-something, pro-choice, overweight, movie snob, reader, speed reader, babyboomer, eldest child, aunt, bossy, sillybutt, english major, girlfriend, friend, editor, college graduate, caucasian, volunteer, short, night owl, designer, earlybird, poet, bilingual, introvert, amerikanska, sister-in-law, intuitive, yankee, diplomat, good cop, INTJ, listener, cousin, female, bachelor of arts, teetotaler, non-smoker, skeptic, generalist, feminist, granddaughter, white, smartass, employee, white-collar professional, busy bee, gameplayer, mail-responsive, literate, taxpayer, daughter-in-law, homo sapiens, caffeine addict, niece, marketing services coordinator, author, packrat, straight arrow, list-maker.

And that's just the short list.

Everyday we are faced with the fact that we are viewed by the labels people assign to us. It's as if they've put label-covered glasses on, instead of rose-colored or shades. Suddenly, we're one-dimensional. Every little fact you learn about me is a label you stick on a me-shaped doll in your mind. Those labels define me, they shape me, they give you something solid to relate to, and they help you define on all your sliding scales of priority, importance and prejudice where I belong in your world-order. They constrict and restrain me to something you KNOW ABOUT ME.

The resistance we feel to changing someone's labels, our pre-conceptions, our pre-judices (Hey prejudice, your etymology is showing!) is one of the strongest forces in the world. The names you're called, the way your parents refer to you in your hearing, the telling little notes on your report card, the organizations you join, the beliefs you share, the doctrines you subscribe to. It's not just you sticking labels on that me-shaped doll in your mind, it's ME sticking labels on the me-shaped doll in MY mind.

Sometimes we have the same labels for me, from different perspectives. Labels I might accept proudly like, for instance, teetotaler, you might find ludicrous or the epitome of boring. That label I'm interpreting as indicative of strength, willpower, decision, moral superiority* might be giving you quite opposite signals.

Experience and familiarity tend to make the labels stick harder, even though often they are acting as blinders. We stick them on, and then don't see around them. They're rarely transparent and they've got SERIOUS adhesive. Think about it. When was the last time you suddenly saw someone in a new light? It might be a postive light or it might be a negative one, but sometimes it's a label falling off.

And perhaps, a new label being pasted in place.

*Just for the record, even though I AM a teetotaler, I get no sense of moral superiority from it...unless you are vomiting or can't remember what happened last night. Then? Well, duh.
 contemplative
mood: contemplative
music: Japan—Swing


Comments

that was good reading just before bed.. :)

Another good 'un! :)

*pat on back*

Aha why label you at all, let's have a blank label. We can't possibly put on word on you that would describe the complexity you as a whole. But it is true that we would label someone by what we focus on in them at the time. I would add "cheerleader" to that list, because of your icon.

It is time to do this right
in poetic rhythm set afresh the plight
all those labels true may be
but how can others view them to see
so in future as wander around
carry stickers of labels most profound
marked with words telling what and who
every person is a that and do...
if you are male, white and over forty
or you are female and slightly naughty
for the first we say "grumpy old man"
for the second "subversive woman"
those with educations we can mark
as being "unable to change a lightbulb in the dark"
those who have some manual skills
a badge which states "hard work never kills"
and for those of us who write and scribe
"just buy my book so to my palace I flee and hide".

ha! that was great! :)

oh no, you're one of those left-handed?! now i will have to defriend you!! :-)


aye. She has the mark of the devil! Sinister handed indeed.

LOL! The few, the proud, the left-handed!

I love your icon; it is the best!

thanks :) I found the base on gettyone.com, and then added the text myself.

(Anonymous)
so so so important

how we see ourselves-- how we see others-- if only we could see others as parts of ourselves . . .

Great post, my lovely labelmaker

~bluepoppy

What a timely post. I just saw a meme that asked readers to use one word to describe the blogger posting it. It was fun but there were lots of labels and glue flying around!

only one!? Good grief, that's unfair! Also, hard! :D

(Anonymous)

What I find so delicious about blogging is that we can all interact with minimal label-flinging. My most cringe-worthy moments in social settings are when I'm asked, "What do YOU do?" Because sometimes, what I'm 'do-ing' (to earn a paycheck) has absolutely no relation to who I am. And that question seems to me to be shorthand for "Quick, I need to label you so I know where to fit you in my perceptions of social strata" (or something like that). I love that in the blogosphere I could care less about how someone earns their income and lots more about whether or not I like them as a person. ~Marilyn

P.S. Leftys are cool! (My boyfriend is left-handed.) :)

That's a perfect summation.

I met Fred-the-Fiance online, months before I met him in person. Had I met him in real life first, I might have automatically (social conditioning in action!) stuck labels on him -- labels which would have been completely inappropriate to who he really is.

Straight arrow?? Hmm. Very nice, post. Missy. There's another label for ya! Maybe that's one of the things about meeting new people, or at least, interesting new people, they can surprise you on an almost daily basis because you have to kind of start out with a prejudice or preconcieved notion about that person based on the limited interaction you've had with them. I love people who appear to be one label and then you find out they're like Jackie O's luggage, just plastered with labels you'd never thought you'd see on them.

well, maybe not TOTALLY straight :P

Nice entry! We all label to some extent; it's our way of categorising and coping with information around us. The important thing is to be open and know that there's more to the person than the label given. Surfed by from cottontimer

Thank you :) I agree, it's definitely a coping mechanism. But I think it's far too easy for it to end there, and you are right that it is important to be open and remember there is more than just 1 side to every person :)

Absolutely smack on target!

(Hmm, time to check my labels... *g*)

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