Drop The Stereotypes, Labels, Generalizations, and Groups
I'm not trying to be hyperbolic when I say that groups, stereotypes, labels, and generalizations are detrimental to us all. Even if the groups are formed for a good reason, or the stereotypes are seemingly ignorant or harmless, there are negative effects we have to look for.
We see it with race, gender, religion, political parties, and even economic principals (capitalism, socialism, communism etc). When you split people up, draw proverbial lines in the sand, and look at others as if they aren't the same as you, a lot of avoidable conflict is inevitable.
Here are some reasons why.
Groups Create An Us Against Them Mentality
Groups, regardless of how well-intentioned the founders are, almost always end up getting a little crazy. People start to get delusions of grandeur and label themselves as "warriors" for a cause. This happens too often in social and political activism.
Fringes begin to form and, as always, fringes are the loudest and most obnoxious and get the most exposure. Sometimes fringes splinter off into their own groups, and then you have an even crazier group of quacks shouting nonsensical babble.
Another problem is that other groups form as a push-back. A person sees a group, disagrees, feels alienated and upset, and forms their own movement. Now you have two idiotic fringes barking at each other while level headed people are silenced.
It's about time the level-headed people are brought forward so they can have an influence over the rest of us. Having news cycles dominated by baying nutcases is detrimental to all of us.
Labels, Generalizations, and Stereotypes Annoy People
Listen, no one wants to be lumped in with a large group of people and then have a stereotype, generalization, or label hurled at their feet. It's annoying and, for sensitive people, hurtful. I can't stand this sort of nonsense.
Even if you are making a valid point, the person you are speaking to immediately shuts down as soon as you begin to label them. That, or they get defensive. Either way, it doesn't make for a constructive conversation.
A little bit of understanding and decency is the best ice breaker for any discussion. Shouting garbage at people is not. If you approach with hostility, you'll get it back.
Groups and Labels Devalue The Individual
When you dismissively label a person and make generalizations about them based on race, ethnicity, language, gender, political affiliation--or any ist, ism, or whatever--you aren't being thoughtful.
Every person has an entire lifetime of stories to tell. Every person has a fight, a struggle, the baggage they're dragging around, defense mechanisms, and madness going on in their life. You have no idea what they've been through, what they're going through, or what tomorrow holds for them. You've no right to decide what they are with your pitiful and intellectually-lazy labeling.
They also are incredible in a lot of ways, and better than you are at so many things. The individual is amazing. What you imagine them to be with your thoughtless labels is the complete and total devaluation of them as a character.
You Never Get To Know People For Who They Are
When you label, stereotype, and generalize people--or stand steadfastly with only one specific group--you don't even give yourself a chance to know another person or people.
It is impossible to get to know intricacies with all of these blockades up.
One thing I've learned traveling through North America, Latin America, and East Asia is that there simply isn't enough time to hack through all of the stereotypes and assumptions people carry around.
What you can do is be warm to one another and try to enjoy each other as much as possible. Have a coffee, have a beer, share some food. Show them pictures of your homeland. Ask about their homeland! It's more refreshing than you realize.
22 Random Acts of Kindness
Being Kind Isn't Difficult
In closing, I just have one thing to say. Try to be more accepting of one another, and get to know people for who they are and not what group you assume they belong to. Of course there are terrible people out there. It's why I'm such a cynic (which I'll speak more on in later hubs). But most people aren't evil. Most folks are actually decent and want the same thing you do: happiness and comfort.
© 2014 Blake