In the 1980’s, one of the more memorable one-hit wonders in the United States was the band Living In A Box, which was the same title as their debut album and their only hit in the United States. While the song was apparently inspired by a homeless acquaintance or friend, it was also inspired by the feeling of being trapped in a box, which is an all-too common fate for people. We live in a world that wants to put us in boxes, and that experience is necessarily a violation of and a diminishment of what people are about, because most of us are simply far too complex to be put into boxes, no matter what the world may think.
One of the more sad aspects of contemporary life is the proliferation of labels and identity politics. A great deal of the point of such matters appears to be putting people into a box based on what they or others label people as. Some of these boxes are boxes of privilege that allow people to try to freely coerce others into supporting their own delusions, and some of these boxes are meant to delegitimize what someone thinks and feels based on their perspective. Whether these boxes are being used in a positive or negative sense, though, they reduce the complexity of human experience to labels that seek to force us into solidarity with people because of accidental and often temporary qualities that we have rather than allowing people to choose who they will associate with for other reasons.
To the extent that we want to be known as human beings, we face the struggle of knowing and being known in the context of how we live our lives. It is very easy for us to be misjudged, both because we want to be–in that we do not always want to be fully known–and because we do not want to be and others are of limited insight in understanding us. It is similarly easy for us to misjudge others, and when we think we understand others and do not, this misunderstanding becomes all the more likely. Anything that allows us to make others seem to be simple and to make snap judgments about how others are is going to be a bad thing in allowing us to know and understand those around us.