Throughout our daily lives, in order to make life simpler, we tend to separate a lot of things into particular categories so as to make them more relatable to us.
Indeed it’s true that if you think of things in a binary standard, such as: “bad” and “good”, “black” and “white” etc. then the according decisions are much easier to take. This is essentially the principle of stereotyping. To a certain extent, we can’t really let go of stereotyping things, otherwise it would be very difficult to live as everything would feel strange and uncertain.
Nevertheless, the problem with this method of functioning is that it consists of making constant approximations of things or concepts that aren’t necessarily accurate. Consequently, after placing such an approximation or stereotype on something, it’s very easy for one to miss important details of the thing in question.
Usually the simpler the category, the more detail you miss, the more it becomes a dangerous stereotype due to its subsequent inaccuracy.
This applies in general terms, but it is most important to consider when it comes to categorising people. For example often when we think we are ‘smart,’ we tend to label certain others as ‘stupid’ based on a set of their actions.
As these terms are extremely subjective and vague in their meaning, they are also very dangerous as they play on an opposition that is very contextual and by no means absolute. In other words, by labeling others as ‘stupid,’ we position ourselves above the person and commonly think that there is nothing to learn from that person because they are intellectually inferior.
Furthermore, one can start to notice that the more you use these two categories on people, the more of these ‘stupid’ people will appear around you.
However, the key element that we commonly ignore when placing these categories is that when we call someone ‘stupid,’ we’re neglecting that it only applies to a certain intellectual quality of the person, suggesting that you possess more of that particular quality. As I mentioned earlier, by thinking in this manner you turn a blind eye to the other details about the person, and fail to see him/her for their other qualities.
What we must never forget is that from every person you can learn something, because every person is better than you at something. By labeling others as ‘stupid’ you assume that’s not true and consequently reduce them to one or several qualities. On the other hand, the more you abstain from making such judgements, the more you start to realize that there is an exponential amount of things you can learn from every single person you meet.
Proceeding in such a manner will not only reduce the quantity of ‘fools’ around you, but will grant you a large spectrum of individuals that can help you improve yourself in a variety of different ways. This level of open mindedness is something that takes time to develop but once you cease to categorise people so blatantly, both yourself and the people around you will become better.
We can’t completely reduce our biased opinions and thoughts, but by making an effort to see people for the qualities they possess, the world becomes a better place to live in.
This article is contributed by Daniil Vakhrameev.
Daniil Vakhrameev is 19 years old, and a student of Sociology at Warwick University, UK. He is currently doing a one-month internship with SalamToday and SalamWeb where he will be sharing his unique takes on traveling, culture and life as a student abroad.