Labelling: A Pandemic of Our Generation

A while back I read about something called the “labelling theory”. The labelling theory suggests that an individual’s identity and behaviour may be determined by the terms that are used to describe them by others (i.e. labelling). This theory, for example, states that if you keep calling someone a criminal, they will eventually become an actual criminal.

Is this true? I don’t know. But, it made me think of something prominent in our generation: labelling. It has become extremely easy to label people with single words, especially on social media platforms. In a world where a lot of our communication consists of short comments, emojis, and reactions to posts, it has become really easy to label people and judge them. Not just that, but the hive mentality makes it even worse. The hive mentality is when a person changes his opinion because a large group of people have an opposing or different opinion. For example, you see a video which you like on some internet platform, you go to check the comments and you see that people don’t like it. Instead of liking the video and carrying on, you follow the hive mentality and dislike the video or join the hate. Even if it was something you don’t actually believe in. It happens so subtly that you may not even notice yourself doing it.

Now imagine someone labels a person in the comments, and even though you may have never thought of such a shallow label, you start agreeing with that person. Is it actually your opinion or is it the hive mentality and the ease of labelling affecting your opinion as well? Whether that label is insulting or not, it still can’t fully describe a person. It can describe a behaviour, and even then, does it describe it or is it a judgement? What you saw in that meme/video/post is just a part of that person and their behaviour.

That’s the moral of whatever I am trying to get to with this post. We try labelling ourselves with simple words, even seemingly innocent ones such as “introvert, extrovert, etc…”. However, we are very complex beings and we can’t be described with single words or labels.

I noticed this pattern a lot on a lot of social media platforms and I really don’t like it. I think that as humans, we should have better communication and less judgement. Anyway, the next time you’re browsing the internet and come across a label. Ask yourself the following:

  • Is it a description, or is it just a form of judgement?
  • Is it adding something constructive or is it purely an insult?
  • Do I agree with that label or am I following the hive?

Until next time…

Icon used in the cover by Iconjam on Flaticon.