Since y’all seem interested in talking about labels, we thought we’d give you the opportunity.
Gifted, fat, frugal, cheap, rich, poor, pretty, female, black, midwestern, Jersey…
The brain needs to categorize things. That’s why mental accounts work so well for public finance. Labels help humans organize the world around them. We’re more than the sum of our labels, but people have a hard time perceiving others without them, at least until they get well-acquainted.
We contend that it’s not the label… it’s what people do with it.
Labels can be used for good. The can help people get the help they need. When you have a disease or syndrome, it’s nice to have a diagnosis even if there’s no cure. They can tell us about differences between groups. And they can help human brains make sense of large amounts of information.
Labels can be used for evil. They can be used to pigeon-hole people into categories and stereotypes. They can cause people cognitive dissonance, or to try to become something they wouldn’t be without the label. People can treat those with labels in ways they shouldn’t be treating anybody. Mislabeling can cause problems too.
So, what do you think: Are all labels bad? Are labels necessary? When? What would a world without labels look like? Have you ever been in a situation in which having a label helped or hurt you?