Stereotypes: how they affect us

The concept of stereotypes is misguided and is devoid of any emotion.

How Stereotypes impact our lifestyles.

Stereotypes govern our behaviors, our thought processes and also have major ramifications on our lifestyles. We are born into a world that consists of a predefined template of the people we need to become, and the gender norms we need to conform to. These stereotypes devoid children of a choice to craft their own identity. The liberty to be able to define who you are and build your unique identity is a privilege today.

We idolize certain behaviors and look down upon others, we abandon people that do not conform. We isolate people who are different, and who refuse to live up to what’s expected of them.

We make assumptions about people based on the stereotypical categories that we have formed in our minds over time. These predictions are what make people uncomfortable when there’s the slightest change in what they observe around them, and although we are not familiar with it, we need to put in a minimal effort to accept and not revolt against something that doesn’t directly affect our lives.

The availability of resources and privileges is widely biased. It is based on a notion that humans once created to form a system, that allowed people to communicate better. But what was once created for good, is now a demon that we worship.

It is a pity that we can’t rise above minor differences. It is a shame that when we find someone struggling, and trying to be themselves, we do everything in our power to pull them down, but when we see them engulfed in fame, we follow and worship them like disciples in a monarchy.

We are Human

Our humanity is what makes our existence meaningful. Beyond our emotions, we are just shallow beings.

Our complexity and our depth are what define us, and when we let one stereotype (good or bad) define who we are, we are essentially doing an injustice to all the effort we’ve put into becoming who we are today.

Stereotypes can be both good and bad, but what seems to be good in the current situation might be harmful to someone along the way.

We tag everyone with labels, we like categories, we like to sort and divide things, but we’re not a subject of work, we’re people. And so, we need to treat each other like people. Stereotypes may not always be harmful in theory, but they pose threat to people when one acts and behaves a certain way out of fear.

Stereotypes are everywhere, from our homes to schools to our workplaces, and the problem with their existence is that they aren’t always accurate, they aren’t always true, they are incomplete truth. Although stereotypes, from a technical perspective, are a way of justifying and predicting what a person from a certain society is supposed to be like. It creates an unnecessary division between people who chose to conform and people who don’t.

We’re always fed information through the media, through different sources, and more often than not you’ll find out that the images of a category of people that we see are disproportionate and untrue.

What can we do as people, to be better?

Truth is, we all have implicit biases. We may not consciously practice these in our lives, but some biases rest in our minds.

Stereotypes, discriminations, and prejudice root from an ingrained fear of not being in control. As humans, we have the tendency to want things under our command. So often, we forget that we have no authority whatsoever over other people, and how they choose to live their lives.

Implicit stereotypes are not just cognitive, they are intimately linked with our upbringing, our social motivations, the culture we believe in, and the culture that we cultivate in our minds over time.

In hindsight, what truly matters is that we make a conscious effort to be better, to do better for ourselves, and for a world, that may or may not come to exist in the future. We can start with trying to be aware of our biases and make sure that they don’t impact our judgment.

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Neeha Fathima

UX Designer, psychology enthusiast, part-time philosopher and bibliophile. 🌻