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Why do we put labels on people?

A grouch, Mr or Mrs high and mighty, a snob, a nutter, a tight fist, a drama queen, a book worm, a nerd, a nag, cry baby,  Mr or Mrs know-it-all, Besser wisser (better knower) and plenty more are to be found in our supply of labels we put on people (usually with negative meaning). Why do we label people like that?

Usually its people who are not close friends and that somehow irritate us, it becomes like a dismissal of the person. By putting a label on someone you can dismiss them as not very interesting and you don’t need to take them seriously.

Since we don’t know them we can’t know why they are behaving the way they are. It can be all sorts of reasons behind it like nervousness, anxiety or low self-esteem. It can also be a way to “hide” them-selves not to show who they really are mostly due to the above reasons.

By using the labelling when talking about this person with others we transfer to them a picture of this person and they will consciously or unconsciously associate it with the person in question and treat them accordingly. This can be extremely stressing, frustrating or depressing for the person who probably doesn’t understand why people behave strangely with them.

I think that in some ways it’s a form of bullying. Sure, to label people can be due to many reasons too like we can’t be bothered, we become afraid and may feel threatened, unsafe or maybe the person bares a weakness in us that we would rather not acknowledge. Maybe we feel “attacked” and by putting a degrading label we regain a sense of balance or even superiority.

No, you do not need to love everyone and vice a verse, but it should be enough with that insight without having to use a degrading label.

I myself am probably tagged with Besser wisser quite often. I know I’m having a hard time stopping myself with my enthusiasm and gladly give my advice and knowledge regardless if it’s needed or not.

The following story is an insight into a part of my life that meant a lot to me; perhaps in part it may explain why I am as I am.

When I was young (around 21-22 years) I had a complicated group of people around me. What we all had in common was that we all played a role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons and other strategic games together.

These people went to University and studied Philosophy, comparative literature and related topics. Most were typical Swedish middle class. Several were also slightly younger than me. I myself was a first generation immigrant child from a typical concrete suburb. Every weekday we had lunch in a Chinese restaurant in the area that was easy to get to for everyone.

As you may understand my language was not so highly developed, I didn’t know all the “fine” words they swung with. I was the more “picturesque” aspect of the gang except when we played the games for which I was fully equal.

There were loud discussions about everything between heaven and Earth at these lunches and sometimes the discussions were just within my realm of experience. They had read some books and knew just about everything there was to know, they thought. When I tried to explain my experiences nobody listened, when I tried to say something they just said yeah, yeah, like I was some little child and continued with their talk over my head.

I was mightily frustrated and angry at this. Slowly but surely, I learned to use a “fancier” language. There was a lot of anguish and frustration during my learning time, but today I am thankful for everything I learned by this gang.

One day, there was an unusually strong discussion that moved in my realm of expertise and experience; they all quoted from books they had read. As usual, I couldn’t make myself heard. In the end, I was so angry that I stood up and yelled at them to keep quiet. You sit here and bitching about things you have only 3rd hand info on, I have first-hand information but you do not listen at all because I do not use your “fancy” words. You build your world view on the books and think you know best and beat your chest for being so open-minded. Go outside your little world, experience and learn from others and from the experiences you can gather in “real” life, I said.

It all ended well and we continued to be friends but more on an equal level. All of us learned something from this.

This led me to be interested in both language and knowledge. I love to learn things; everything is interesting and can be useful in the most unexpected situations. I’ve worked with a lot of different things, ranging from auto repair, road construction, business, markets, bars to intensive care just because I want to learn as much as possible during my life. I think that my experience during this time is what makes me so opinionated when I think something is interesting or important. Especially if I notice that I’m not taken seriously or being neglected. And of course it doesn’t get easier with me being by nature a very intense person with much presence (it has been said to me).

I spend a lot of time studying and keep myself updated in many areas, gladly participating in discussions about all kind of topics.

I can understand that some people can get irritated by this and sees me as a Besser wisser, in the negative sense.

Besser wisser is German, definition besser “better” and wisser “knower”; “one who knows better” and is a pejorative term for a person who obnoxiously purports an expansive comprehension of a topic and/or situation when in reality, his/her comprehension is inaccurate or limited (Wikipedia).

I would feel very bad knowing that I could have helped someone but refrained because I just could not be bothered. And it is free for everyone to listen or not.

My philosophy is that people who are my friends know me and take me as I am and those who don’t bother to get to know me I don’t care about. They can say what they want; I could not care less about it.

However it is I am as I am and I just have to help and share. What I know I know well and once a nurse forever a nurse.

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About Madeleine Hunter 90 Articles
Madeleine has lived in Northern Cyprus for ten years now and is a true nature lover. She lives with her husband on a large plot with stunning sea views with the scenery as their only neighbour. Madeleine is a writer for NCM, and writes interesting articles about health care and beauty. Madeleine is also working at an eye clinic and in the summers she leads training sessions in Water aerobics, an exercise she created herself, where you work out your entire body in the crystal clear Mediterranean Sea. In the future Madeleine will start an organic farm for obtaining guaranteed organic food, as part of the holistic view that a body in balance is a healthy body. If you have any questions for Madeleine, please write to: madeleine@norracypernmagasinet.se