An interesting comment, and something I used to agree with. But it never quite sat right and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. To me this is because of two inherently opposing ideas. Our interpretation and explanation of the world is made up of two parts. The first being the sensing of the world around us, this unfettered experience of our reality, something that not one other person will be able to ever fully comprehend. The second being the words we choose to describe these feelings and interpretations, never quite matching up to that exact feeling.
The other day I went for a walk, I took time just to look out and stare across the landscape of my parents village. My usual thought process would be to look at the landscape, to try to categorise what I was seeing, put it into words, save it for later to tell someone about the experience, but this time I stopped. I put that on hold and just experienced what I was looking at, without judgement, without understanding, just admiring the beauty of the rolling hills, with the golden rays of the sunset, piercing the light mist, forming shadow pillars through the trees where I sat. I must have stayed there for at least half an hour, listening to the trees rustle and the birds sing. After a time I felt myself reaching for my phone to capture the moment, but stopped myself as I felt a veil fall across my perception, something that was trying to make sense of my surroundings and put it into the context of a small box. So I stayed, staring into the wilderness.
I tell this story in the hope of giving at least a little insight into how I think the world is, the world is so much more than words can convey, blue is not blue, green is not green, red is not red, I say this because the blue I see one day, is different to the one I see the next, and so on. But words serve to give meaning to these concepts, like colour, emotion, sounds. If I say I am angry, I could be anywhere from being slightly annoyed, to frothing at the mouth, words do not take into account the differences between these things in and of themselves, but act to transmit a concept to the people we are with. This is the limitation of language. When we think in order to convey a concept to someone, we lose some of the information, and we cannot guarantee they will understand it in the same way we do.
I would argue that we do need labels, but only if we wish to communicate with people. Someone said to me the other day, why do we need to label sexual preferences if there is a spectrum to them. I couldn’t answer them at the time, but my answer now is: to explain what someone feels, if someone says they are straight, it is to convey that they prefer the opposite gender, but it does not exclude the idea that they could also find some members of the same gender attractive, much like someone saying that they are gay. I think sometimes we trap ourselves in the idea that the words are the end of an idea and fully encapsulate someone else viewpoint while struggling to put our own experience into words.
Call it what you will, but this is an oversight in my opinion. To believe that other people can fully express themselves when we cannot. To say this is to do ourselves a disservice, we are all incompetent when it comes to explaining our reality fully. While our lack of conveyance divides us, this lack of ability binds us, makes us human, what grounds us.
So I say we need labels, we need boxes, we need categories, otherwise how can we hope to communicate. We don’t need to get rid of labels, but the idea that these labels define who we are entirely. That to me is the biggest crime, assuming that we stop at the end of the sentence, when in reality it could continue into infinity and never fully encapsulate us.