People aren’t just one thing

message board poster

from cracked.com

Whenever you see an article about somebody’s amazing achievement or criminal endeavour, the person will be described as a “mother of three”, a “grandfather”, a “youtuber”, a “seventeen year old”. All of these tags make these people seem relatable; we all know grandfathers and we’ve all seen a video on YouTube. They make it seem like what’s been done is something anybody could do. Any teenager could find a cure for cancer! Any teenager could beat and rob an old man! We were all teenagers once. They simultaneously encourage us, depress us, and mislead us.

Because let’s face it: none of those people are only that. That grandfather might have been a pioneer in IT and have years of study and experience behind him before becoming an entrepreneur. That mother of three might have been abused herself and then failed by social services before abusing her own children. We never know the full story, we never seem to question much beyond a very simple identifier.

I’m sick of it. Hoping for advice or insights, I click on articles about mothers becoming successful business people, but they never give the essential details. They never say what qualifications, experience, or contacts those mothers had first. They’re not helpful, they’re barely even interesting, they’re more like advertising for the new business than encouraging words to others. That “message board poster” in the image above might have had an advanced degree in cryptography for all I know. The article doesn’t say.

People cannot be so easily defined. People are like ogres and onions: we have layers. We have facets. We are not one thing alone.

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6 thoughts on “People aren’t just one thing

  1. That’s how the world is – stuck in 12th grade. Nobody can have more than one label because it’s too confusing for the news audience. Besides, if you gave a bunch of labels to a mass murderer they would just seem like ordinary people and we can’t have that.

    The way what we communicate is inherrently flawed with bias and we have to work hard to not let it show. It’s easy to use labels and it let’s us push our biases on others without seeming to do so.

  2. I agree. People aren’t just one thing. We compartmentalize and, while labels make it easier to digest information, they also make it much, much easier to stereotype.

  3. Reblogged this on speculativemom and commented:
    I agree. People aren’t just one thing. We compartmentalize and, while labels make it easier to digest information, they also make it much, much easier to stereotype.

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