December 1, 2017
By Myra Safdar

If you ever went to a supermarket, you’d be quite familiar with the concept of labels.


If you ever went to a supermarket, you’d be quite familiar with the concept of labels. They’re useful. They help us determine exactly what we want. You could love a strawberry truffle or a chocolate truffle but all you want is a truffle. Imagine how hard it would be if you had to figure out what millions of unlabelled jars and bottles in supermarket contain. A label tells you everything, about the product’s contents, its viability and how long you can use it safely (and hopefully, not getting yourself killed if it turns into a nasty mutant bloodthirsty ninja on a specific date of the year. Because if you were clever, you’d have gotten rid of it ages ago).

So what happens if we extend the same concept of labelling to actual living breathing humans? Because it would totally be okay to call someone ‘insert some adjective here’ and think that it is ALL and EVERYTHING you need to know about someone. Unfortunately, humans are tricky beings, with consciousness and awareness that our inanimate objects like shampoo, vinegar, deodorant lack. While you might be sure that the particular brand of object you bought is exactly the same thing that the label tells you (okay, a bad example, since you could buy white paint thinking it’s milk in this country), same cannot be applied to humans. They’re not bound to conform to your idea of that neatly stacked category you have of them in your mind. Humans are fickle and highly unpredictable. To think some word or concept could define the entire three-dimensional complexity of human personality is unrealistic. We can’t categorize and put people in those neat little boxes we have just because it’s easier for us. I think it’s easy for us to not use our minds and stick to the predetermined label everyone else has for someone. Many of us find it difficult to comprehend the unfamiliar, so we resort to the safety that labels offer us, forgetting that labels are inaccurate, that you could end up with something contrary to what the label tells you it is. You should know by now that corporate lie.

Labels are subjective, and humans are more complex than what a shallow word would describe them. That’s what makes the human experience so beautiful. There’s an entire spectrum out there, and no one person in this world is the same. Your idea of ‘cool’ would be different from my idea of ‘cool’, and that’s okay. (Unless your idea of cool involves killing little children in their sleep, that is. If it does, then no, I’m sorry. It’s NOT okay.)

You might argue and say, ‘Oh wait, writer! That person is ‘rude’ and whenever I talk to him, I always get snappy replies! How can you say labels are inaccurate?’ Pause right here, young grasshopper. We need to realize that labels don’t just exist in minds; they have real life effects, too. Labels condition us to perceive a certain person in a certain way, which causes us to behave with them accordingly. No wonder you get responses consistent with their ‘label’. We all judge people, it’s an established fact, but we need to change the way we judge. When you next meet someone, just think: are they appearing sadder, fatter or madder just because you’ve been preconditioned in believing they are? There’s more to a person than what a mere linguistic device would tell you.

So do you still believe your shampoo bottle actually contains shampoo? Or have you been tricked by the label?