In place of a book-summarizing post for “Here Comes Everybody Fridays”, I want to expand on something I touched on last week.
I ended last week’s post asking “Is there a relationship between social media and the desire to pigeonhole others (or even ourselves)? Is it something in society?”
Fittingly, this week provided an overlap between these questions and a reading for the intro class I’m teaching this semester.
In David Dark’s book The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, he talks about pigeonholing as a matter of perversion. He says:
There’s always more to a person—more stories, more life, more complexities—than we know. The human person, when viewed properly, is unfathomable, incalculable, and dear. Perversion always says otherwise. Perversion is a way of managing, getting down to business, getting a handle on people as if they were things. A person reduced to a thing has been, in the mind of the perverter, dispensed with, taken care of, filed away. Perversion is pigeonholing. (75-6)
To answer the questions from last week, I don’t think that social media is particularly to blame for this desire to pigeonhole. I think we lack the desire to pay the social cost to really get to know people. We want to manage our relationships with other people as though they were things because things don’t require adjustments, adaptations and revisions. For instance, I have a cozy relationship with my chair in our living room. I know how far back it will tip, how easily it will swivel, and how to sit most comfortably in it. When I go to sit in the chair, I don’t have to think or interact with the chair. I can just sit in it and use it for my purposes.
It is far easier to treat people as objects to use than it is to try to view them properly, with the understanding that there is more to this person than we know. That takes time and effort, things that seem to be at a premium in our world today. However, without the challenge of having other people in your life (and viewing them as other people), it is easy to get wrapped up in the way you see the world as being more than your experience of the world. You start to see your experience of the world as the way the world is. If this is your goal, then you cannot have other people disrupting the world with their complexities, but we must reduce them to objects that we can file them away within our world. We become more concerned with fitting the world into our experience of the world rather than trying to understand the world as it really is.*
Even more saddening, there seems to be a desire for people not to just pigeonhole other people, but to pigeonhole themselves (or at least the presentation of themselves). However, I need to think about this occurrence more, and will plan on posting on it next week.
*I’ll admit that there must be a certain level of pigeonholing in order to function in the world. You cannot reasonably walk through the grocery store and stop to try to get to know the complexities of each person with whom you come in contact. However, you can try to recognize that each person with whom you come in contact is full of complexities and has more to them than any pigeonholing could accurately describe. Recognizing the existence of those complexities, even without knowledge of the specific complexities, requires you to treat them in a way that cannot be reduced to any pigeonholed characteristics. Read my dissertation for more conversation about this process. Or maybe I’ll finally get around to posting some of the more interesting thoughts here on the blog.