Harmful Limitations
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Politics and Activism

Harmful Limitations

People aren't easy to understand, which is why we need to try so hard to do it.

Harmful Limitations

I like personality tests.

My MBTI is INTJ, and I could tell you the personality types of all of my friends.

I mainly listen to classic, indie rock, and jazz, and I'm a band nerd.

Those are three labels I've given myself. For the purpose of this article, imagine every label as a box.

As complex beings, we often categorize the things around us; which plants are poisonous, which are edible. We make important distinctions to help us survive. As humans evolve, so do the things we find ourselves distinguishing.

We are quick to label ourselves with traits that we find appealing, like the three things I listed above. I had the privilege of choosing those labels. There are however, some labels I did not choose for myself, which is fine. It's just my human brain making simple distinctions. I am female, African-American, and I was born in the United States. Though many things are possible, I can't easily change those labels; this adds complexity to my character and three simple boxes become something more like this:

People are combinations of characteristics; those that are chosen and those that are allotted at birth, or later on. These serve a meaningful purpose, be it positive or negative, but one thing is apparent: we are complex beings, and when we have so many characteristics, when we decide to label them we often contradict ourselves.

And we love labels.

We enjoy labeling ourselves (and others) Republican or Democrat, straight or gay, black or white, religious, non-religious, dead or alive. But it's not that simple.

Vague descriptions at most, these are some of the most finite characteristics in some peoples lives. This begs the question, how healthy can we be as a society if we so easily allow ourselves to be defined by characteristics that don't follow a strict definition themselves? If you follow a specific political party and tell everyone "Oh yes I'm strictly Green Party, or strictly Libertarian." That shapes their perception of you. All they see is what they've most likely been misinformed about, like a black and white picture of you, and every one associated with that one characteristic of you is formed in their mind.

Someone might be fiscally Republican and socially Liberal, a bi Methodist Christian who listens to hard rock, and has a sweet spot for R&B, but all of those characteristics can easily be erased as soon as they mention just one thing from their personal list of labels to someone else. That being said, a persons' perceptions and opinions of you shouldn't matter.

However, on a large scale they do matter. People will look at a million people and see one, two, or three characteristics and it will look like this:

But people, as complex as they are, simply do not look like a series of boxes with a limit of two colors. If every contradiction and opinion and hobby represent a shade, every person you ever come in contact with will look like this:

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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