September 2nd, 2002

baratron, silly

you're only as old as you feel...

from #sims, with other people's comments snipped:
[baratron] i'm finding it really amusing that punk and goth are actually fashionable now
[baratron] kids going around with Guns N' Roses "Appetite for Destruction" t-shirts on who weren't even _born_ when it was released
[baratron] and i bought it in 1989
[baratron] so that must make me old
[baratron] and I'm only 26!
[baratron] when I was a teenager i thought 21 was old
[baratron] then when i was 21, i thought 25 was old
[baratron] now i just think _i_'m old
[baratron] but i don't care
[Dudesim] you will :)
[baratron] i expect i'll have a minor crisis when i get to 30
[baratron] and then again at 40
[baratron] by 50 i hope to have outgrown them
[baratron] i tell you what first made me feel old - when Ash released their album called "1977"
[baratron] which was the year they were born in
[baratron] and i thought, erk, i was born in 1976
[baratron] at least most of the bands i like are older than me
[baratron] Richard mostly likes albums released in the 70s
[baratron] he's had a mental age of 50 since he was 18
[baratron] when he actually gets to 50, he'll probably revert to being 18 again, having not had it properly when he _was_ a teenager
[baratron] i look forward to it, and laughing very hard :)
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    amused amused

A pointer to the information: a new way of looking at labels.

In irc this evening, I managed to articulate something that I've been speculating on for a long time.

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So, I went on to thinking about labels that I use for myself, and someone on the channel said "I don't like labels". Richard is much the same - he doesn't like to label people because he feels that's putting people into boxes. I, on the other hand, approach things from the other side. At BiCon (which I still haven't written about, naughty me), in 36's asexuality workshop, they said something along the lines of "I like to use labels as a way of better understanding myself". And I said (out loud, because I was that excited by it) "Yes, I do that too!".

I said that I don't like to label other people in case I get it wrong - but I wasn't sure about that, because in using labels for myself I end up giving them to other people too. Then I thought of an analogy that works. In code, you can label a specific section so that you can find it again to refer to it. For example, in html you can do <a name="ug">, and then refer to it from somewhere else as "#ug" when you want to link to that part of the document. And that's exactly what labels for people are for me - markers in my memory to a specific part of the information I have about them.

There are some things, like gender, which a lot of the people I know object to as a way of labelling them. "If you label me, you put me in a box." Except that I put everyone in a box just by knowing them. "If you put me in a box, you constrain me." But I don't, because my boxes are infinitely expandable.

Whether your gender is male, female, none of the above, somewhere inbetween or androgynous left-handed butch, I still have something to talk to you about. And that's the reason that the boxes are there - as a way of understanding you. The longer I know you, the more boxes you'll have and the bigger those boxes will be, because the more information I'll have about you. Some of the boxes are standard labels that everyone gets, like gender, sexual orientation and food preference. Some of the boxes are particular to certain people and don't even appear in the database for others (such as "affinity for octopi", "likes Pop'n Music"). The boxes are just hash links in my document, and I can type whatever I want after the name. If you tell me you're a vegetarian and then I see you eating bacon, your "food preference" box will expand from "vegetarian" to "vegetarian except for bacon". If you tell me you're a lesbian, and then you date a man, your "sexual preference" box will expand from "lesbian" to "lesbian except for this one man". And I realise in writing this that it's not the label that people are objecting to, so much as the set of assumptions that come with the label. If the label is just a reference to the part of the document that contains the rest of the information, there is no default set of assumptions to apply.

It's a box in a spreadsheet, a record in my database, a hash link in my document. I can type as much as I like - unlike my computer memory, my brain doesn't get full up. It's just a reference to the place I need to go to get the rest of the information.

Can you see why I stayed up so long past my bedtime to write this?
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    excited excited