Hippies and labels

Last week my brother called me a 'hippy' on facebook for a joke. I retaliated with suitable rudeness and asked my friends if they also thought I was a hippy as a joke, and we had an amusing conversation about the things 'hippies' do and don't do. (Think firetwirling, dyed hairdoes, hand-weaving and more.)

But the thought stuck with me. "Am I a hippy? And what does that mean?"

I had some time off blogging while laid up with sore shoulders and RSI and it nearly went out of my mind until today when, in McDonalds drinking my hot chocolate, I said to my husband, "Ha! I'm definitely not a hippy. Hippies don't come to McDonalds."

Why did it matter so much that I was called a hippy or not?

I think because once you slap a label on someone and assign them to a tribal group of whatever kind, you are denying them any other options or characteristics in life. 

If I call someone a 'goth' or an 'emo' or a 'nerd' or even a 'foodie' or an 'intellectual' or a 'brainiac' or whatever, I am putting them into a category which will then forever affect the way I think of them or relate to them. If people who disdain hippies think of me as one, they can easily dismiss whatever I say as being ridiculous without ever listening to it. Equally, if someone loves hippies and wants to me one and considers me the 'hippiest' chick around, they may start to take everything I say and do as wonderful, regardless of its quality.

Any label, whether it is positive or pejorative, is unhelpful for treating people as individuals, with unique characteristics. Labels make it easy for us to dismiss them or idolize them, both of which are dehumanizing.

I said to my husband over my hot chocolate, "I think I should be the only person who can give myself a label," but I think I disagree with myself now. Even giving yourself a label can be unhelpful - it can limit you or give you a false sense of reality. 

In answer to my question of am I a hippy? Certainly I like quite a few things that the 'hippy culture' has to offer, but not all. I'm a person who likes this and thinks that and does quite a few different things. Don't label me and you might be surprised at what you find!