Labels

Oh how we love labeling in today’s culture. We do it constantly. We label for all kinds of reasons. Most of the labels we make are simply for the convenience of giving something a name. Otherwise how are we going to convey “please hand me the hammer” if it is not clear what a “hammer” is.

But what concerns me, is the abundance of labeling we do to justify laziness and/or give a false sense of security. I see it all the time.

 

Gender labels

Diagnosis labels

Lifestyle labels

Race labels

 

Lets start by taking the social construct of gender labels. At some point in our history we decided it was not enough that we separate people by their sex, but we needed labels that encompass ALL the character traits that are usually associated with each sex. Once we accounted for these character traits suddenly “male” became “man”, and “female” became “woman.” But what are these traits that caused us to make this jump? Well ….. in general:

MAN: Male. Alpha. Hunter and provider. In modern culture wears lots of dark colors like blue, black, grey, and silver. Very logical, displays very little emotion.

WOMAN: Female. Beta. Gatherer and care giver. In modern culture tends to be more colorful than their man counterpart. Relies on intuition, depends on emotion.

Now most of us don’t fall neatly into either one of those descriptions, but they are more or less the hard societal coded definition of those gender terms. And since there are only two, we associate with the one closest to how we identify. I.E. “I am not very logical, and I have many outward emotions, but I still identify as a man.”

The question is ….. do those character traits still associate with those sexes today? Now surely they don’t associate 100% of the time (not even back when the labels were made), but have we evolved to make this binary social convention completely non-applicable, as too many people are far too deviant from both these definitions? I think so.

 

There are those conservatives that HOLD to this binary standard, and have it so ingrained in the very base of their character, that they don’t realize it’s a social construct. To them “male” and “man” are the same thing.

Then there are those who are a bit more open. They are interested in non-binary standard with a multitude of gender labels, for the wide variety of character types out there.

 

I am here to tell you that both of these standards are just strait ridiculous and unnecessary. Mainly because they are both rooted in insecurity. The only reason why gender labeling would even be necessary in the first place is to give some sort of sense of belonging. So each of us can feel like we are part of a group. False security in numbers. Validation.

 

The conservatives are holding on to a system that no longer applies, and possibly never did. They fear their legacy will lose the identities that they hold on to so dearly.

Many of the “non-binaries” are even more insecure, as they are so insecure in their individuality that they need a new labeling system so they can apply a new label to themselves and have the false security of others joining them under that label. “I need to know there are others out there like me, because I can’t stand on my own.”

How about this:

My name is Anthony Michael Foppiano. I am male, attracted to females, and enjoy wearing lots of colors. I listen to many kinds of music including freestyle dance, Rock, Electronic, Pop, Progressive, and sometimes meditation. I am both logical and extremely emotional (I.E. I lay my flawless logic out, if the party doesn’t get it, or tosses it aside, I FLIP OUT.) I consider myself an Alpha, but let that not suggest I am violent. I detest real life violence (fantasy violence is entertaining), and consider myself a pacifist. I don’t need a gender label to validate me. I require no external validation whatsoever. With all the character traits mentioned above I can stand on my own under the label of the name I already have …… that being Anthony Michael Foppiano.

Now you try …..

 

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE: The inevitable eventuality of the multi-label path (that the “non-binaries” would have us take) is that there will be too many labels for anyone to keep track of and too few people falling under each label. So they would lose the group validation that they so longed for, and would have to stand secure alone anyway. That label might as well be their name. So the non-binary path will ultimately lead to my way anyway. HA!

 

Gender is an example of labeling because of security. How about labeling to justify laziness?

Diagnosis labels. Humans are obsessed with labeling to avoid action/responsibility. It’s the reason why we so abundantly use labels like ADD, ADHD, PTSD, and Depression. Don’t get me wrong, I believe these are all legitimate conditions. I just happen to believe also that they are over diagnosed, because of laziness. The doctor is too lazy to custom tailor a treatment, so throwing a patient into a general category is convenient. The patient is too lazy to take responsibility for their condition so they slap a label on it that they can learn to live with.

 

Lifestyle and Race labels are also great examples of labels created for personal security and lazy reasons. And the arguments are similar to the ones above (so I won’t rehash the same argument).

The only reason why my lifestyle of Minimalism even needs a label, a name, is because if I am going to preach about it, the concept needs a name for me to convey its principals. Remember, I was secure in my philosophy of life long before I knew there was a name for it. Long before I knew others practiced it.

The majority of these labels are just clutter for the mind. Walls raised by the fearful.

Appreciate the Beauty, and the Serenity in your own back yard.

I find more and more, that not matter where people live, they wished they lived someplace else. They say “there is nothing to do here” or “there is nothing to see here.” They want to be in a different city, town, or county. Someplace else far away. I find this attitude no matter where I go. I am sure there are more than a few native residents of Hawaii that say “This place sucks. I gotta get outta here.”

This all stems from human ingratitude. When the wonders around us become commonplace, we lose our appreciation for them because we lose our gratitude. 

Keeping our gratitude is at the heart of maintaining a life of focus, a life of happiness. Never take for granted the beauty and wonder all around us; close to us. There is no greater feeling of joy, than wanting what we already have.

 

I recently took a leisurely walk around my neighborhood, and noticed lots of beautiful things I would have never noticed and enjoyed had I not been so grateful:

These three pictures were taken mere feet away from my front door.

And these four were taken in a hiking trail a mere hundred or so yards away from home.

I remember as a child thinking that the whole world is as green as the Hudson Valley NY. It wasn’t until I was an adult and more traveled, that I learned that few places in the world are as green as the Hudson Valley. Now my gratitude for my home can not be measured.

I believe every city/town/county has fruits to enjoy and be grateful for. We should all indulge and feel grateful for these fruits in our very own backyard.

Secure in Ones Self

A certain strength of character is required when one considers pursuing an alternative lifestyle; a lifestyle that is against the grain or norm. This had never occurred to me before in all my years of writing and preaching about Minimalism, because I had always taken for granted the fact that I have a very strong sense of “self”, a very strong identity.

It hadn’t occurred to me until recently that there are many people that are NOT very secure in themselves. And how would it occur to me, I was (fortunately) raised by a mother that did a very good job from the beginning of instilling a very strong sense of identity, of self esteem. I just assumed everyone else had it just the same, to the point where I was unaware that it was a concept. It was simply “the way it is” to me.

It occurs to me now that many people just go through life doing what they think they are supposed to be doing. What’s expected of them. They immediately void out any thoughts or feelings they have that are not in line with the “status quo” as waste, or frivolous. They feel inadequate with their own company, and won’t engage in activities unless they have the company of others, especially outside the home. They need the company of others to give them some sense of validation.

They lack security in themselves. They lack a strong personal identity.

In order for anyone to pursue an alternative lifestyle custom tailored to them, a strong personal identity is required. It is required because when one custom tailors a life from unpopular philosophies, they won’t have a lot of support. Sure there WILL be many individuals such as myself that will support someone because we have similar lifestyles to them, but that support will always be greatly outnumbered by the public at large who is resistant to it. So in the end, their ability to follow through rests on the strength of their character. How strong their personal identity is.

Now …… there are many levels of strength we could be dealing with here, so I am not going to draw lines in the sand to illustrate when one is strong enough to pursue an alternative lifestyle. I reckon I’m not even qualified to do that. BUT, I have observed enough people, and their behaviors/attitudes, to determine who is lacking in self security in general. These people have behaviors like:

  • Unwilling to go to dinner or a movie (in theater) alone.
  • Excessive condescending sarcasm at someone else’s expense (often under the guise of “joking”).
  • Judgmental
  • Image Conscience
  • Inflated Ego (important not to confuse “EGO” and “Strong Personal Identity”. Ego is used to mask an individual’s lack of personal identity. Ego is an outward display used to cover up an inward void.)

A person who exhibits any of the above behaviors is likely not strong enough to consider, understand, or follow through with an alternative custom tailored lifestyle.

So raises the question “How can one gain a strong personal identity.”

I don’t have the “one stop” cure for this. I’m sorry. Like I said ….. I was raised with it. Truthfully, I don’t think there is an easy “go to” for this one. It is something each individual need to work on within themselves. Meditation, therapy, and healthy positive environments will help. The only words I can offer someone in need of a strong personal identity are:

 

You are wonderful. Every thought you have, every emotion you have, be it comical or serious, is important. YOU are important. You have great purpose.

I mean every word of that, and as long as you make yourself repeat it over an over, sooner or later you’ll believe it too.

Spend some time alone. Make yourself laugh. Learn some new skills in your alone time. These things will help.

 

 

 

Think of this as class “Minimalism 096” (before “Minimalism 101”)