Sunday, May 17, 2015


     I am the label, what you get called. A code phrase, or shorthand, used to mark you in some way. Many labels are racial, sexual, or cultural. Some labels are used to mark someone or something as being part of a group with negative values in order to define, control, ridicule punish or avoid you. Or warn others about you.  We can’t pretend these kinds of labels don’t exist no matter how offensive they are.
     On the other hand, labels are used to differentiate things and add value to items that are similar – like designer labels on clothes, record labels. A brand of anything. Even personal branding – as in your names – extends your specific values to styles and ideas.
There are corporate labels. Specific job labels. Professional labels – MD, RN, LVN, PT and others. Pro sports labels, amateur team labels, school labels – high school, college! (Go Rams!) On and on. We labels get around.
     Don’t forget the medical labels – the diagnoses. They even have commercials for specific ailments. Labels help YOU sell the product by asking you to ask your doctor for something for your ED, talking bladder or elephant siting on your COPD. (That’s called “pull” marketing.)
You label yourself by how you dress, your tattoos, hair style, color, beard, nails, and age. And shoes, don’t ever forget what your SHOES say about who you are. Shoes say a lot. Self imposed labels are ways in which people find you. This post has a "label" for the search engines.

     We labels exists so someone can OWN you. A "slave" to fashion? You got a diagnosis? Somebody professionally specializes in the diagnosis which you have and can make money by treating you because of your label. Labeling is a form of ownership. Ever had a medical issue? Your history, with a label attached, is in the system worldwide. Data collection by governments and corporations? Labels. Data points.
     Labels, what you call one another, how you assess one another lock you into mental categories and you lock in for others.  Advertisers know these categories, because they are based on market research and sales and they design their ads accordingly. And, you tend to judge one another accordingly. 
     But, there is another form of label which is free from all of these things. It is here to show us that ownership is not based on specific things, but not static, more ephemeral. This sort of label is fluid, moving and changing. This is the tag.
     Your first tag may have been the “tag you’re it” as you ran from one another as children. A tag is also the spray-painted graphic symbol affixed to buildings to demarcate boundaries or “turf”. But, tags are also put moving objects like rail cars, subway cars, trailers and other items which move. The ownership designated with a tag is the momentary ownership of the paint. It is not a space affixed ownership, it is not branding an item, but a proclamation, sometimes daring and dangerous, that the tagger was there and created the mark – the label or tag. “Tag you’re it.”

     Labels and tags should be living things. They must be the kind of addition which does not lock us forever into a “bondage” of designation or data collection. A “tag you’re it” kind of thing. A short term, temporary designation that is in YOUR control to change.
     Plaines Indian tribes had a custom of touching or “tagging” an enemy in battle and this was known as “counting coups”. Warriors won prestige by riding through certain death of battle to touch an opponent who could have killed them.
We labels are in favor of a new kind of label or designations of virtues which can be won by everyone.
     We labels also know that the word “tag” in German means “the day”. Tag is a tag of the future. A dawning, a new day, something creative and not a fixed label. A freedom for you not to be judged, not to be owned by somebody else. A new tag in which it is possible for you to gain prestige, re-create yourself.
     Tag, you’re it!

© Copyright 2015, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved

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