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Look to the person beside you and try to remember the first day you saw them. Were there any stereotypes hesitating your communication with them? Any labels alarming you to stay away? And most importantly, did you? Labels can help us identify people, however stereotypes prevent us from understanding other individuals and cultures. Let’s define both terms so we don’t get confused.
Labels are a classifying phrase or name applied to a person or thing, especially one that is inaccurate or restrictive. A stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. I believe these assumptions prevent us from understanding others beyond their self-appearance. Even in the original Google definitions, both words don’t seem like a very good thing.
Specifying on stereotypes, they are oversimplified perspectives that human beings have on each other. They are made so things are made easy and less complex for us, because that’s how our mind works best. Phrases like “all Asians are smart” and “every blonde is dumb” are assumptions developed by our own community. Thinking these remarks make our world a better place, when in reality they’re doing the exact opposite. No matter how similar we seem, we shouldn’t be stereotypical, however in some cases, labels CAN be helpful to identify each other. But for the most part, we are all unique and complex in different ways, and categorizing just limits us as individuals. It’s hard to admit but like it or not; it’s inevitable that we stereotype each other. According to psychologist Gordon Allport, prejudice and stereotypes emerge in part as a result of normal human thinking. In order to make sense of the world around us, it’s important to sort information into mental categories. “The human mind must think with the aid of categories, ” Allport explained. “Once formed, categories are the basis for normal prejudgment. We cannot possibly avoid this process. Orderly living depends upon it. ” This article proves that we are bound to label people in categories and groups, that’s just how our brain works. It doesn’t seem ideal to place our own friends/family members in these mental categories, so overtime we can work on trying to see people as who they are, not what they look like. I
t’s important to comprehend where our viewpoints on people are actually coming from. Whether it’s the books we read, the movies we watch or even the people we spend time with, they ALL affect our perspectives on this world, good or bad. Jason Standleter states that even if we don’t talk about politics with our own friends, their behaviours and opinions could affect our outlooks on situations; without us even knowing. This could be a good thing, since you and your friends have the same mindset, however it could also be emotionally damaging and ruin other relationships. We can label others based on their ethnicity, but we can’t stereotype people from ‘coincidental experiments’. Yes, people who share the same culture may act similar in some ways, but we don’t have the right to stereotype EVERY person.
In conclusion, though labels can sometimes help us identity people, stereotypes prevent us from understanding other individuals and cultures. Stereotypes are just simplified generalizations of different types of people, really based on prejudice opinions and non-accurate accusations on many. However, we’re in the 21st century, and it’s understandable if our minds still work in that orderly manner of categorizing. Our society now is the one most affected, so let’s work our way into seeing people as unique individuals, not ethnic group assumptions. As a very wise person once said, Ellen the Generous, “The problem with labels is that they lead to stereotypes and stereotypes lead to generalizations and generalizations lead to assumptions and assumptions lead back to stereotypes. it’s a vicious cycle, and after you go around a bunch of times you end believing that all vegans only eat cabbage and all gay people love musicals. ”
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