Labels are insidious. I imagine them slipping around like lampreys and aphids, notching their toothless jaws to us. They slip into conversation, into thought, and spatter the world like sticky notes, categorizing, separating, allocating, and organizing. We can pry them loose, but they always seem to slip back and latch on again. They’re often at the foundation of how we operate, whether we’re aware of them or not.
One of my favorite–albeit “sketchy”–pastimes is to sit in a crowded place, especially on a college campus, and look at how people naturally sort themselves, fitting into tidy categories
The “jocks,” with short, blond hair, fit physiques, and exercise clothes sit together. So does the alternative crowd, people like “hipsters,” with quirky sweaters, weathered jeans, and sunglasses, or the lingering pockets of “goth” and “emo”culture.
The pre-med students group together, and the theater folk unite. The church-going flock together, filling the same long tables at meals with persistent regularity.
People separate and and sort by age, majors, music tastes, geographic locations– anything to segment and define–and looking at them, I, too, block people together under labels.
I often wonder where the label ends and the person begins.