In sociology, the word labelling is used more as a metaphor, than a concrete concept. The general function of labels are widely known and recognized as a method of distinction that helps people recognize one product from another. In social terms, labels represent a way of differentiating and identifying people that is considered by many as a form of prejudice and discrimination.
The most common method of ‘labeling’ people derives from a general way of perceiving members of a certain nationality, religion, ethnicity, gender, or some other group. When a majority of people hold a certain point of view towards a certain group, that point of view becomes a stereotype. That stereotype affects the way other people perceive the groups in question and the result is a ‘label’ that is metaphorically imposed on the members of the group in question. A member of a targeted group is thus ‘labeled’ by the larger society, and along with it, the nuances underlying the label, be it positive or negative, that aids in the formation of social stereotypes. [taken from Wikipedia]
No matter how much people say that they hate to be labels, we actually seek labels and even label ourselves. We want to be labeled, because it gives us the feeling of belonging. At least that’s what I noticed in my short life on this planet. Of course I’m talking about positive labels and those that we find comfort in.
If you don’t feel like you should agree with me, look at countries, we make countries, states, nations, in order to identify ourselves as a belonging part of some community. Everyone have their own nationality and without it, they would feel lost.
I only picked this example to prove the point I’m creating. However I can go on to other labels. You belong to a family, either you like it or not. Even if you don’t like your family, you still want a family and people mostly create their second family in the form of their friends. It’s a core human instinct, to belong. After all we are social beings and only few individuals feel fine in complete solitude. Yet even those people seek for some kind of human interaction.
Moving on to more labels, people give themselves labels that they approve of and feel connected to. As examples some people are Beliebers, because they like Justin Bieber, other are car junkies because they are obsessive about cars. And they LOVE it! They find nothing wrong with being labeled with the things they love.
However, I am aware that when people say that they hate labels, they mean the negative ones.
It’s normal to dislike the socially inducted hateful labels, that are often influenced by a previously made stereotype. After all none would like to be but into a group they dislike or feel discomfort in so we all instinctly work against them. In my opinion the labels that are not approved by targeted individuals are not needed and should not be used, as they can cause more harm than good. Wrongly labeled individuals can also get an mental disorder (in a lot of cases that’s depression and/or self-hate).
Even if you feel like your label fits someone, you should rethink and first find out their standpoint on the matter. One of those labels is calling people fat. I know that a lot of people are overweight to the point where it can harm their health. But honestly that’s none of your business, unless you’d like to stand by them and help them maintain their health in whatever way necessary. If you’re not willing to do that, shut your pie hole and keep it to yourself. Once again I used the label fat as an example, yet the same can be said about any other label. If you’re not willing to find out why the person is like they are (yes genius, there might be a reason for what they are like), don’t be an asshole and throw the label at their face.
But I have to point out that people also label others on instinct, at the first glance and make assumptions about who they are. It might be because others give us a certain vibe or because they just look like they fit into some specific group. In past (and now) we formed assuming as a way to protect ourselves. You know how you sometimes get a bad “gut feeling” and you don’t want to be near that person, even though you only saw them once in your lifetime and you’ll probably never see them again? Well you labeled that person in your head, based on what you saw and what your brain made out of their body language and other nonlinguistic signals. Like I said, those things happen and you can’t exactly stop yourself from doing it. But you can stop yourself from voicing it and acting on it. You know when you make an assumption and you’re in the middle of a nervous reaction, it’s wise to calm down and possibly check if your assumption is correct, or simply ignore it and move on with your life. Without saying/doing anything with the targeted person, because that wouldn’t be exactly mature.
Basically, my brainstorm is coming to an end. The point is that labels are a part of our society and we can’t avoid them, we can only accept them, learn to deal with them or find those that we like and feel connected to. We should never label people against their own will, yet we do it and will do it (consciously or subconsciously) because that’s just how we humans are.