I've only recently really realized how many boxes there are, how many people base everything on those boxes, and how very ingrained the idea of putting everything in categories is. Just among teenagers, especially those in high school, you find perhaps the most obvious categorizing going on. There's the preps, jocks, nerds, geeks, emos, punks, goths, gangsters, wangsters... There's the "smart" people, not necessarily synonymous with nerds, who get good grades, the losers who try yet get bad grades, or simply don't give a fuck. Everyone is judged, evaluated, and slotted neatly into whatever box is deemed to fit best. But even beyond high school, you find just as many boxes.
Everyone, teens and adults, are judged on ethnicity, income level, job field, political views, on what their families are like. How you talk, dress, and act are under constant scrutiny, no matter how old you are. And then, of course, there's the matter of age. Few boxes are so final and unbudging as that of age. For some reason, the number of years you've spent on this planet is considered a great judge, and predictor, of how you'll behave. There are certain things teens WILL do, certain ways they WILL behave, simply because they're teens. Yet because teens are expected to be wild, reckless, and generally stupid, in some ways we're lucky, because we can "get away" with lots f things simply because people expect teens to be unpredictable, simply by the fact that teens ARE wild and "uncontrollable"! I think it'sworse for those who've passed the teen markers, and are then supposed, and rigidly expected, to "act like adults", which in most people's lexicon's means to stop having fun. How would someone react if they saw a grown man racing down the street in wild abandon, laughing for the sheer joy of it? Why, horror of course! And what would people think if an adult dressed in an especially eccentric style (or should say what DO people think when they see the few adults who do)? Again, horror, and often seemingly disgust.
My big question is this: why? Why is everyone expected to act in a certain way, in a predictable way, and why are those who deviate from the predictable greeted with horror, disgust, and fear? Because it does often look like the reactions are motivated by underlying fears, fear of looking outside of their neatly plotted and well understood little worlds. Fear of seeing things a different way. Is it just me, or is one of the huge problems with our society that fear of differences? Even among those who don't seem to fit into many specifuc categories, labelers still, sadly, have little trouble dealing with them. They're simply labeled freaks, or something similarly nasty, denoting those who refuse to follow the norm.
The way the rest of the world relates to someone is often based entirely on the boxes it's deemed that specific person fits into. The boxes are all important. And it seems most people don't know how to relate to someone without using boxes. People are scared to look at someone as simply a person, an individual, full of complexity, likes, loves, hates. Different experiences, feelings, hopes and fears. Why are people scared to meet another indivdual head on, without the judgment that is the myriad list of boxes? Well, for one, our culture certainly doesn't encourage that. The boxes are useful to those in power, keeping everyone neatly separated and segregated by class, ethnicity, job. Perhaps that's because if people stopped identifying as goths, as mechanics, as caucasians, African Americans, university graduates, and simply identified as people, as individuals, we would no longer live on our own little islands. Instead, we'd band together, and take back the freedom, community, and life that we rightly deserve, instead of the fabricated existance the powers that be allow us. I've said before that what keeps us trapped in this destructive culture is nothing more substtantial than ideas, and I think that boxes may be simply an extention of that. To function in this culture, we must cling to ideas, to orderliness, and to everyone keeping to their own cliques, their own boxes. That way, we can "know" that people weren't meant to mix and mingle, to have relationships with those older, younger. Those with different opinions than ours, different skin colours, different backgrounds and experiences. If we don't have to stick to our boxes, then we don't need a hierchy that creates and maintains boxes. Boxes are just another block, another idea, that lets us rationalize our culture, our way of living and relating to the world.
So here's to throwing out boxes, destructive ideas, and anything else that gets in the way of good, meaningful relationships with a multitude of different people, and ultimately, gets in the way of the world we want to live in.