Labels are for food, not people

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The only thing I like to label is my food.

If I ever eat at one of those restaurants that have those level-of-spiciness labels with the little fire symbols, and I see more than two of those on a dish, then I’m not going to even order it. But unfortunately, people don’t come with these types of labels already branded onto them like food often does.

Whether people like it or not, labeling is common and we do it to each other every day—and people need to change that.  

Allora Heaton, a freshman nursing major from Alton, said people label each other without realizing it.

“When you see someone, you kind of make a pre-judgment,” Heaton said. “It doesn’t make it right.”

There are some instances when pre-judging someone may be OK. If you are in a city you’ve never been to before, you probably don’t want to make friends with every single stranger you meet. But when you are choosing to pre-judge someone based on what you do and don’t like about someone, that’s what can cause problems. 

When we label someone on first sight, we’re making a choice to disregard that person without even getting to know who they are. We do this out of uncertainty because we don’t want to re-experience something from our past.

David Koller, a sophomore integrated studies major from Enterprise, said labels are generalized and misguided.

“Human emotion is so complex that a label just can’t explain everything,” Koller said.

The list of labels we describe people as is endless, but some of them include labeling people as shy, stuck up or self-centered, jocks, and even slut. 

I had an experience in the past where I labeled a girl as being stuck up because she always kept to herself and I thought she acted like she was better than everyone. But after getting out of my comfort zone and getting to know her more I learned that labeling her that way was wrong, and now she’s one of my best friends.

This process of labeling each other has to end, and the only way to do this is to change our thought process when first meeting someone.

“I honestly try my hardest not to label people,” said Abby Bess, a junior nursing major from St. George. “I try to think positively about someone, but if someone gives me a reason to label them, I do without even thinking I am labeling them.”

Some people who I’ve labeled in the past have become some of my closest friends in life because I chose to put my pre-judgments aside and I chose to get to know them more. 

Koller said learning not to label someone is different for everyone.

“I have to remind myself that a single action or appearance does not give enough information about someone,” he said. “I have to tell myself that I am over-generalizing and do not know the whole story.”

I still remind myself when meeting someone that they are who they are, and I can’t change that.

Instead of disregarding each other, we should disregard the labels we so easily put on others.