Human Classification

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate May 2001

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The Classification of a Human Being People rely heavily on sight to detect who other people might be. The assumptions a viewer makes from how a person dresses of combs there hair help the viewer classify their subject. The problems these assumptions cause are numerous, lost opportunities, forced identities and violence among groups are a few results of these assumptions.

When people look at one another while passing on the street they see much more than a suit or spiked hair or a pair of baggy jeans. The observer sees these material things as clues to who the person they are looking at might be. There is a classification that occurs. By categorizing, the observer is assuming that who they are looking is a specific breed of person who has personality traits and interests that are known to exist in the group they are assumed to be in. For example one might assume that a guy with a bright blue Mohawk would listen to punk, be political, hate the rich and so on.

The attributes that we assume to exist in certain groups are ideas that are fed to us by society and our surrounding culture. Most of the personas and looks that have been linked to each group are gathered from the founding members or bench markers of the Group. An example being our assumption that anyone who dresses in tie dye and Berkin stocks like Gerry Garcia probably has the same viewpoints and habits as him.

Because of this idea that people who look the same are a similar type of person a lot of people use categories to find friendship. People assume that others who dress like themselves have the same interests. While this may be true on occasion not every one who dresses the same will get along. Unfortunately many people limit their friendship to those who fit into their group. By doing this there are many lost opportunities of friendship. People also try to make social connections by acting to role with what is expected of their clique. They do this because they assume that by conforming to a group identity, friendship with others who appear to be in that group will be made easier Many people become what is expected of their stereo type. A good example of this is the gay male. With a lot of gay men homosexuality becomes more than a sexual preference it becomes their lifestyle and their personality. Society creates an idea of what it means to be gay and instead of being themselves people assume that since they are gay they must live by these expectations. They force lisps they never had, make themselves walk a certain way, live promiscuous sexual lives and so on. While I am sure there are many who are actually like this it is unlikely that there are as many that act the part. I think that since it is difficult to live the gay lifestyle, many of those who are gay conform to this notion of what it means to be gay in order to gain this "strength in numbers.". They feel more secure conforming to a group then being themselves. There is a security that comes from being one in the same with a million others. Another example of people conforming to what is expected of them is in the Homey clique that I grew up around back home on long island. These are people that I had gone to school with my whole life. It is because of this that I know who they really are. These are people who never used to walk funny, they used to speak just the same as me, and were always friendly toward me. Once they became Homies all these things changed, the bounced as they walked, they spoke in Ebonics and they mocked me every day because it was what society had expected from them. They became their category.

The same way groups are expected to act a certain way, many are also expected to dislike other groups. Unfortunately people who live by their stereotypes act on these negative expectations. Society pits groups against one another and this causes problems. These problems can be severe, especially in a high school environment were these opposing cliques are forced to be in the same building with one another. Many times I have seen Fights occur with no real personal attachments. A common scenario is a Jock pushing or making fun of a punk or Goth or any other opposing group resulting in an unnecessary fight. Most of these fights are unnecessary because the attacker is only being aggressive because it is what is expected of them. They usually attack so they can achieve higher status in their group by fulfilling this requirement. Another way I have observed violence occur between cliques is when a problem occurs between two individuals of different groups then afterwards someone who looks similar to one of those two will be verbally or physically attacked. The reason for this attack being the assumption that all of these group members are the same therefore making them just as guilty. Being Verbally of physically attacked based entirely on how you choose to look makes people extremely angry resulting in terribly violent events such as Columbine or the Brian Denehe Situation.

While clothes certainly don't tell us every thing we need to know about a person there is something about our culture that likes to take this short cut by assuming they do. It is much easier for a viewer to judge who they want to or don't want to be friends with simply by what cloths the person they see is wearing, rather then to engage in conversation to find this out. There is a really ignorant glow about using this method to look at people. By assuming that everyone that looks the same is the same we are throwing away the idea of the individual and therefore stifling our growth as a culture.