Do We Categorize to Live, or Live to Categorize?
As a society, and as a world, we put people into boxes. We categorize them. It’s easier than putting people on a spectrum. It’s accessible and fast to categorize; so accessible, in fact, that we go overboard. We jam-pack individuals and divide them. For example, the “bigger” people go here, the “smaller” go there; the “beautiful” go here, the “ugly” go there; the “happy” go here and the “depressed” go there. We divide one another, simply by categorizing ourselves. It’s easy, it’s fast… but also ineffective.
Perhaps dividing and categorizing makes sense for objects. It’s often easier to access certain things if we know where they are: i.e., my socks are in the top drawer; the peanut butter is on the top shelf in the kitchen, etc.
Categorizing starts off even before we are born. How big will your baby be in comparison to the others? We start to think of our relationship to one another even before it begins.
It continues through childhood. We categorize females into pink-loving, helpful, kind, individuals; we categorize males into blue-adoring, rowdy, funny, sporty people. We go so far to making categories for just two genders, but we forget about all others that may fall in between categories. We also forget that people may not feel comfortable in the category they are placed in by others.
We think we are benefiting ourselves, and others, by making these categories up in our heads. We think that by dividing and comparing people that we are ultimately making the right decision. But, we need to rethink this. We need to rethink the way we view the world. We need to consider the spectrums and lines that connect us, not the boxes that divide us.
This categorizing continues to happen at all levels of our lives. At the high school level, we categorize people into sporty jocks, music geeks, the nerds, the drama club, etc, etc, etc. In University, we keep these ideals handy. We never really change…we just adapt.
Perhaps putting things into boxes isn’t all that great, unless we’re moving to a new location. in which case, use the boxes, and then get rid of them altogether.