Thursday, June 30, 2011

Labeling labels

What is it with labels? Sometimes, having a label seems like a good thing, sometimes, not so good.

Labeling a can of food is probably a good thing..... it helps when trying to decide what to eat. And being able to see a price tag is helpful...... I find it so annoying when a product is left blank, I mean at least label the self it sits upon. A label on a pair of pants? We all know the brand name may drive up the price on similar jeans without the name, but when the label refers to whether you are getting a size 38 or size 36 in waist can help. Although I've bought one fitting size in store A only to buy another exact same fitting size from store B and found them to really NOT be the same fit at all.  I swear the labels read the same thing! But it is only clothes and I accept that different manufacturers are in fact different and don't necessarily run with a universal scale.

So labels on inanimate objects or products seem ok......or so it seems. But when it comes to labeling people and what we do, that is when things become a challenge.

We all have labels at work.... we just call them titles. I think these titles are needed, sort of. These titles help identify what we do, though sometimes I find titles of someones job to be just a little too fanciful. Labeling like this can feed an ego but can also be a bit misleading to others. I don't mind the title I have in my current job, but my last job I had the word "Manager" added onto my title and that led people to think I was in charge of things I wasn't; I've never had a managerial position. It drove me crazy that people kept going on and asking me about things I had no control over!
On the side of my workplace career, I write, and as a writer that is the only label I want to have..... well maybe a "good" writer, but that's it. I don't write horror or science fiction or comedy, but I want to be able to whenever I choose. I have no genre, no label.

I so do not agree with labels that distinguish race or religion; to me, a person is a person. I have had a learning disability since I was hospitalized as a child, I've faced many barriers and challenges in life because of it. But I would never want to be labeled as someone with a disability. I'm Mark, that's it! However, and here is where it gets tricky, I am thankful for knowing that I have a learning disability; because this knowledge allows me to understand why I have certain limitations or why I need help with things that confuse me.
This entire thing came about the other day when I was talking with someone who was telling me that their (very young) grand child was diagnosed with ADHD; a small indication of relief was heard. This person was not celebrating or saying "I'm happy", but knowing now that this child could be given assistance, that explanations and understanding and maybe some peace of mind could be had, that was the relief. On the opposite side of the scale I heard a story from a mother about how it was kind of sad that we, society, had all of these acronyms to label our kids with; ADHD, ADD, OCD, or words like Bipolar, Asperger, Dyslexia, the list goes on.

I think knowing is what's all important here; the being labeled isn't really all that bad until people abuse or misunderstand and start assuming things because of those labels. The fact that some people choose to discriminate or jump to a conclusion over getting educated about something is beyond anyone's control. Regardless of what others say we can all be alright as long as we live by the saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones but labels will never hurt me"; and besides, educating ourselves is where the real power lies.

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