On putting people into boxes.

Here’s another trend I’ve observed lately: putting people into boxes.
Not literally, of course.

Instead, what I’m referring to is applying labels to people that remove any and all nuance, lumping people together sometimes based on a single detail.

What labels do I speak of?

Well, there are so many, but lately the type that I’ve seen a lot are things like:

  • Liberal
  • Trump Supporter
  • Weeb
  • Conspiracy theorist
  • Anti-vaxxer
  • Anti-masker
  • Flat Earther
  • Nazi / Fascist
  • White supremacist

And so on. Basically, these are labels that, once applied, remove any and all nuance from a person’s opinions. Instead of looking at the individual, the attention is instead drawn to a caricature – often the worst possible case, the furthest extreme.

Plastic Neesan Ganma Iroe

I’ll use myself as an example. I hold conservative opinions regarding vaccines, because I don’t trust big pharmaceutical companies to necessarily put the well-being of people before profit. In fact, I don’t trust ANY large corporation that is beholden to money.

And so as a result, even if a covid vaccine were to be released within the next year, I likely will wait for at least another year or two, because I don’t believe enough time has passed for a vaccine to be fully tested and reliable. At the moment, there is a big market for a covid vaccine, meaning that these big pharma companies are likely working double-time to tap that market.

As much as I’d like to think it’s to help people, the cynic in me knows that corporations only serve one master, and pharmaceutical corporations are no different.

And covid aside, it’s a fact that these companies have released drugs into the market in the past that have ended up ruining people’s lives, or even killing people, before they were pulled from the shelves.

Basically, I don’t trust them, and don’t see why I should. As a result, I’ll be more cautious when it comes to new vaccines that are hastily introduced into the world. That’s my position.

But for thinking this way, I could very easily be labeled an “anti-vaxxer”, and what does that mean?

It means that any nuance and reasons I have behind my opinions would be discarded, and instead, I would be seen as someone who would rather let their kids die than get a vaccine. The fact is, there’s a lot of nuance in the area of vaccines and blanket labeling people who are skeptical as “anti-vaxxers” kills the nuance, which in turn, causes any legitimate concerns to be shut down.

The extreme exists, but it’s not everyone.

For anime we have one also, although anime is becoming more mainstream and accepted. The fact is, there’s a large range between liking anime and getting married to a cardboard cutout of a 2d waifu. But when some people see “weeb”, they likely assume the extreme. Because that’s the label, and that’s the box associated with it.

Again, the extreme exists, but it’s not everyone!

Konobi 2d wedding

I hope you can see the point I’m trying to make here, which is that these sort of labels can often lead people to assume the worst. And it’s not healthy. It stifles discussion, and is a very extreme form of judgement, as it’s often not based on any nuanced details, but instead based on a label that could have been misapplied in the first place.

There’s just such a wide range of opinions and ideas within these sort of areas that it’s unfair to immediately think of the worst caricature possible.

For example, there’s a wide gap between someone who questions the JFK assassination, and someone who believes that shape-shifting lizards secretly control the world. Yet both technically fall within the “conspiracy theorist” box, don’t they?

Often I see people say that we shouldn’t judge others, or that we shouldn’t stereotype.

And yet, I’m sure many of those same people also put others into boxes just like I’ve described in this post. In fact, I know people who are like this in real life.

Twintail dark grasper idol

Once the label is applied, it’s so easy to just pull up the caricature in our minds and use that as a heuristic to judge someone.

People are allowed to form their own opinions, and more often than not, those opinions aren’t going to fit that caricature’s mold. Just like stereotypes, there are people that fit the caricature, but that doesn’t mean we should assume that everyone does.

And there are so many more labels than the ones I’ve mentioned. The only reason I could think of those was because they are the ones I see most often online due to how prevalent these topics have become in everyday discussion. There are likely so many more, and on top of that, many more that haven’t been created yet. For example, “anti-masker” is a new one.

Ultimately, what I’m trying to say here is that we shouldn’t simply label people and assume the worst of them. Either take the time to learn the nuances of their opinions (in which, we may find some middle ground or areas where we agree), or don’t. But don’t assume the worst if you can’t prove it.

It may not seem like a big deal, but these days, especially when it comes to politics, I see a lot of threats of violence thrown around, and while I don’t want to see threats period, I certainly don’t want to see innocent people victimized just because they were tossed into a box for trying to express their personal opinion on something.

I know for a fact that I’ve seen many people make off-hand comments like “I hope he gets covid and dies” about someone who refuses to wear a mask, and I’ve seen similar comments towards “anti-vaxxers”. While most people won’t physically do anything, the fact is that in their minds they seem to justify wishing death or harm upon others because of the label.

Again, if I’m an “anti-vaxxer” for being skeptical of a rushed out covid vaccine, then I’m sure some people out there would wish for my death as well. I’m not even going to touch upon how bad the comments get in regards to American politics and the associated labels there, it’s awful stuff.

But I guess these labels can have that effect, because once the worst is assumed, people are much less reserved with these sort of comments. And comments on the Internet are one thing, but there have definitely been cases where people were mislabeled and lost their jobs or worse as a result.

When you’re interacting with others, I implore you to keep what I’m saying here in the back of your mind, and try to recognize when you may be using one of these labels and putting someone in a box unfairly.

date a live kurumi tokisaki

We live in a time where there is more conflicting information than ever before, where 50% of scientists fail to reproduce their own results, many of which are likely those exact same studies that we see the media tout as fact. There’s more bias, more us vs. them mentality, more groupthink, more echo chambers, etc. than ever before. And it’s all accessible from the comfort of your own home, or from the palm of your hand.

Given the nature of information right now, it’s safe to assume that no one has all the correct information. Myself included. If anything, I’ve been learning about how little I know everyday.

Again, I’m not saying that the extremes don’t exist – there definitely are people that believe in the shape-shifting reptiles.

I’m just saying that we should give people the benefit of the doubt and try to look for more nuance instead of just tossing them into boxes and writing them off.

If we really want to be less judgmental, and stereotype less, then we need to stop blanket labeling people and start looking for more nuance. We’re all human, and we all have our own individual experiences.

And if we don’t want to take the time to do that, let’s just avoid the sweeping judgments altogether and move on. There’s no need to get angry and wish harm upon others for having their own opinions on things.

And those are my thoughts on the matter.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have some thoughts of your own on the topic.

Until next time,
Thanks for reading.

16 thoughts on “On putting people into boxes.

    1. I just feel like especially recently people have been throwing them around more than ever online. It seems like proper debate / argumentation isn’t even possible anymore, because the moment someone begins to introduce an even remotely “incorrect” opinion, they get a label slapped on them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. People are really quick to react without considering the other elements to an opinion. As if they were pre-programmed like a machine.

        I have generally been outspoken my entire life, and had plenty of labels slapped on me. I have decided not to care about what others might think about me, just its still infuriating that speaking with people is them regurgitating a programmed response. It’s zero fun.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, it’s just a lazy way to avoid nuance, critical thinking, and debate. All while appearing virtuous, in many cases.

        I haven’t really had any labels slapped on me, because I’m not very outspoken online, but I wouldn’t care too much either. But I fear that the repercussions for being labelled, even mislabelled, will only get worse as people are impatient and try to go for the jugular and get people fired and whatnot without any sympathy or understanding.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m certainly not a fan of labels either. I don’t want to be labeled and I do my best not to label anyone unless I have reason to give that label to someone.

    Sorry to hear that people made fun of you. I’ve had my fair share of being insulted online and especially offline. There were even times where I thought I would get death threats for my posts even going back to when I reviewed Kimba the White Lion or Hate Crimes In the Heartland due to that famous plagiarism controversy in the former and the Black Wall Street Massacre in the latter. However, it did make me more outspoken about serious issues (systemic racism being a big one even before certain tragedies that happened this year). It’s like people give false impressions or try to strawman someone’s opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No one has made fun of me, the post isn’t a response to anything in particular, just thoughts I have on the subject.

      Sorry you have gone through any of that. I don’t know anything about those controversies, sorry. I’m not sure about any labels in that sort of area, aside from “racist” being a label that I’ve seen abused online.

      Strawmanning is exactly what it is. You set up a strawman that represents the extreme viewpoint of a nuanced topic, and then attack the strawman instead of taking the time to feel out someone’s actual opinions and have a legitimate argument. And often, the strawman also serves to dehumanize the person as well, making insults and threats feel less… wrong, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s good how no one made fun of you. I wasn’t sure if the post was a response or not.

        Thank you. The first controversy was about how a certain Disney movie legitimately stealing characters, scenes, and some plot points of that 60s anime even though they still deny it (saying nothing about the other plagiarism and cultural appropriation aspects in said Disney franchise). The second one is about a historical even that hasn’t been talked about as much where a neighborhood in Tulsa, OK that was a wealthy Black part of the city in the 20s was bombed and burned down to the ground by a white mob. I know it’s a quick summary, but those were the issues I referred to. The term “racist” is certainly a label that has been misused for things while conversely denying things that are racist.

        I never thought of strawman arguments dehumanizing people, but that makes a lot of sense. Fascinating point.

        Like

  2. You bring up a good point. I have some strong beliefs about politics, but I also believe in trying to find consensus and reasonable compromise when you can. Of course, even just taking that approach can get you attacked by people who don’t care to understand your reasoning, so I try to understand the reasoning of other people I disagree with.

    And of course we’ve seen the same thing happening with art and entertainment. “If you like fill in the blank anime/game you must be a pervert”, I hear that one a lot. Or else you must be a nationalist, or a social justice warrior, etc. People just want to apply labels so they can easily attack others without thinking too much about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess WordPress ate your comment, I just found it in the spam comments.

      Yeah, those are some more labels I hadn’t thought of. There’s basically one for everything, and it’s weird because if someone uses a label, to me it’s like they’ve conceded defeat, all while they themselves are convinced of the opposite.

      I wonder if consensus is really a good thing to look for. I feel like there are many issues or topics where the masses just hop on board with whatever they’re told or they read on Facebook (or wherever) without any real information or understanding, to the point where whatever they all agree on is just an “accepted truth”. “Repeat a lie enough and people will start to believe it as truth” and whatnot. I feel like consensus alone couldn’t convince me otherwise of the opinions I hold, and I wouldn’t expect it to do the same for others also.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries; I’m sure a few comments have fallen through the cracks on my blog because of that. I should be better about checking my own spam folder.

        There are certainly issues that the public can be misled about or get the completely wrong idea about. The kind of consensus I think we should try to get is an educated, reasonable kind based on clear evidence. But then that’s easier said than done. Sometimes it is hard to tell if government is misleading its citizens if they’re smart about covering problems up. I don’t really have a good answer for that.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ideally I think you’re right. The problem is that these days often the evidence itself is suspect, hence the replication crisis of the modern era.

        And I think that corruption exists in all governments, as part of human nature is being corruptible by power. It’s just more obvious in some than others.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you on the vaccine. I too decide to wait until the vaccine is properly tested and successful on a large scale rather than snack it up immediately. I’m in no rush 😁

    Even Traditionalist Catholics get sucked into the label type too. I’ve seen them on Twitter get clumped into one box for being “old-fashioned”, “Pharasaical”, “illogical”, etc. Hell I’ve even seen a professor insult Traditionalists who support Trump with a Photoshopped parody of the MAGA hat, instead saying “Make Anti-Papists Protestant Again”. Pretty ridiculous the irrational hatred for them I’d say!

    I’m not gonna lie that these types do exist. But so do pious Traditionalists who just want to be Catholic! Like you say it’s annoying how we have to deal with these kind of boxes and the “play on emotions” arguments that come kicking in sometimes…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, better safe than sorry before getting injected with God knows what.

      I’ll be honest, as an ex-Catholic, I don’t believe that Catholics are saved. Absolutely no offense to you or your beliefs, but that’s essentially where I stand on Catholicism, and I feel like I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t point it out (from my perspective). Even if my opinion means nothing to you. Just like I’d be doing a Jew (religion) a disservice if I neglected to mention that I don’t believe they are saved, either.

      But yeah, I get what you mean. I know that the Catholic church itself right now is very divided, and rightfully so based on what I’ve seen the modern church put out in recent years. So I’m sure that labels are being thrown around there. Liberalism is infecting more than just the Catholic church these days, and I completely understand why people would take a hard traditionalist stance.

      I consider myself a traditionalist as well, given that I believe in sola scriptura and don’t allow modern day society to distort God’s Word to fit modern social norms like so many others do these days.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Truesay πŸ‘ I’ve heard so much rumors about this vaccine that at this point I don’t know what’s right anymore. Coupled with my “Don’t easily trust anyone” shtick I’ve built over these past few years, best just to wait by the bleachers and see how the game pops up.

        Don’t worry about me being accidentally offended with the first part, I actually admire your honesty in telling me that, and completely understand where you are coming from in this. I do believe that faith in the Catholic Church is neccessary however, for salvation – even if you don’t believe so too I think I should let you know anyways as well. Whatever drove you away from the Church in the first place, I’m sorry to hear that πŸ˜₯ and I pray you’ll come back. But even more, I really hope our religious differences do not put a wedge between us as, primarily anime bloggers.

        I will agree with you on the second and third points, you are so right on that. In fact there’s a name given to the phenomenon of Bible (and Church teaching in general) being distorted by changing social norms: it’s called Modernism. It’s this thing which made me a Traditionalist in the first place, just because of basically how much it caused distortions from previous teaching (see Vatican II 🀒🀒🀒🀒🀒) supposedly in my church!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12. I think it’s best to be skeptical of worldly authority always.

        Of course no hard feelings whatsoever man! I mean, most of the people in the community aren’t even Christian haha. I guess it was just because this was the first time you’ve mentioned Catholicism on my blog, that I felt like I had to put my 2 cents in there because I don’t want to seem like I’m condoning something that I’m not, if that makes sense.

        Aside from that, I think we have a similar mindset. Too many people these days look at the Scriptures, see something they don’t like, and decide “that’s not right, God would never…” and then make up some new interpretation that magically fits today’s norms. As if passages like Romans 1:18-32 (a great description of what society has become and is “progressing” towards) could ever be interpreted any other way than what they are. Takes some real mental gymnastics, and a real lack of true faith; people who just want God to be whatever they want Him to be, and not what He is. And it’s happening in all sects of Christianity unfortunately, as man is corruptible.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks bro, same on my end πŸ‘ I’m with you on authority and I’ve seen enough IRL and online, of what Romans warns against to know just how bad modernist takes on Christianity have gotten us towards. This is why we can’t have nice things unfortunately πŸ˜“

        Liked by 1 person

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