The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Labels, and why some people shouldn’t have a credit card…

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Labels. Everything seems to have one these days, including people. Lamentably, while the labels that adorn our designer jeans, ridiculously impractical shoes and forty dollar bottles of shiraz generally provide unquestionable enlightenment as to what we are buying, those that are imparted upon individuals often don’t truly reflect who we are categorising. Just because something looks like a Louis Vuitton knockoff doesn’t necessarily mean that it is, and it shouldn’t be labelled as such until it’s confirmed. Unfortunately, the status quo now seems to involve forgoing any investigation or understanding, and simply lumping the most suitable – and stereotypical – label on the item in question. For those readers that are confused, yes, I’m using a metaphor: the aforementioned item is a person, not a faux French handbag. But I digress. These unjustified, sometimes erroneous labels are more often than not the result of narrow-minded, ill-informed opinions.

Opinions are like credit cards: everyone seems to have at least four, you can obtain one without too much difficulty, and people regularly throw them around without any forethought or rational basis for doing so. The problem with having such easy access to credit is that people tend to neglect fully understanding the item that they are looking at, prior to proceeding to the checkout. They saw something similar a few weeks ago, and it’s less effort to assume that the new item will have the same label, rather than to investigate whether or not it’s the same thing. Even though something presents as being a genuine, fifteen hundred dollar monogrammed cliché, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t actually a ten dollar copy from a street market in Bangkok, and vice versa. The lesson here? Try to base your opinions on fact and experience, and leave the inane, prejudicial buying to someone else – let them have the evidence of short-sightedness and an inability to correctly read labels on their credit card statement.

We have all been guilty at one time or another of unfairly labelling someone, based on a fleeting appraisal of them. Based on how they are dressed. Based on their behaviour. Based on their surroundings, or what they appear to have or not have. Hell, I was an offender as recently as Monday. For six months, I had taken for granted that the woman that lives on my floor was some sort of crazy cat lady, based on nothing more than my observations of her meandering on the balcony, and the occasional monosyllabic greetings she volunteered. Had I ever witnessed her hurling moggies at random strangers? Of course not, but based on what I had seen, and possibly too much exposure to The Simpsons, she seemed to fit the bill. We got into the elevator at the same time on Monday afternoon, and she proceeded to launch into a tète-à-tète as soon as the doors closed. After about twenty-five minutes of conversing with her, I was left alone to eat the preconceived label that I had previously slapped in the middle of her forehead. My neighbour is an articulate, thoughtful and affable woman, albeit very reserved. She is amusing, and seemingly knowledgeable on a multitude of topics. I learnt a lot during our exchange, but the main thing that I took away from the encounter was how easily I had fallen into the habit of labelling, based on assumptions.

So here’s a thought: the next time you consider whipping out your credit card, consider the label that will be the end result of flashing the plastic before committing to the purchase.

Written by disseminatedthought

August 10, 2011 at 23:00

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