Hello everyone! This past week was filled with lots of things... extreme heat, 3 of my family member's birthdays, a really long doctors appointment, but most importantly, this lovely article that I came across about generalizations vs. over-generalizations! Now, I'm usually not really one for articles on the internet, but this particular piece is written quite intelligently on a subject that is seemingly vague (and I DO love a good vague topic), yet totally relatable to a lot of issues that I have with people these days.
You should really read the article, but I will give you the gist: The article speaks on the difference between 2 similar descriptions. Basically, while most generalizations can tend to be true at times, almost ALL over-generalizations are false. "A generalization is simply a general statement that applies to many particular cases. An over-generalization is an exaggerated statement that claims that a set of cases are all a certain way, when in fact some are not." The article goes on to talk about determining situations for ourselves instead of blindly believing false generalized statements. Grouping everything into one limiting set of occurrences can be very confusing on the path to truth. We have to be careful when communicating so that we don't continue to spread false statements as truth in our society.
Language, which I have probably discussed briefly before in previous blog posts, is a very complicated, yet important tool in the way that we as humans do the most important thing...communicate! The English language specifically, has been continually developed for over a thousand years. Lots of new words and phrases are added all the time. How are we supposed to even keep up? It is definitely one of the hardest languages to learn. Even the native speakers have a hard time using correct words in the correct situations. I'm no grammar Nazi (obviously!), but it really does pain me whenever I see people using words and phrases in the wrong situation... or even worse, helping to spread wrong information as truth. I have heard many people say things with absolute conviction, that may not necessarily be correct. All it takes is one other person to hear that conviction, and take it as truth without any further investigation or research.
Some people also have different definitions for the same things, which can be pretty confusing. For example, some people say "black people", others will use the term "African American", others will simply say "African", and others, "American". I often get asked the open ended question "What are you?" (I'm assuming in reference to my ethnically ambiguous appearance), but how does one even answer this question when there are so many definitions? And furthermore, some definitions can be deemed offensive or inappropriate depending on the person. I saw a girl on the train the other day (black? African American? well, her skin was dark), she was talking about her recent trip to Brazil. She spoke with confidence about statistics that made up the people of Brazil, and how she didn't know that she (with her dark skin tone) had a Brazilian cousin. She went on to say how the media portrays Brazilians as "white people" (such as Adriana Lima, my love!), and she didn't know that Brazilians could be black. I suppose I get where she is coming from, but I really really wanted to chime and and just say, "Latinos aren't white though!" But then again, perhaps "white" is the term she uses for "lighter skin tone". When I was a kid, yea, all the kids called me white too! Which is not true, but hey, can't really tell them anything different because they already have the definition in their mind.
Over-generalizing statements group similar things (or people) into one narrow minded view point of the entire thing (or group of people). Believing that EVERY particular object in a group is the same without evidence of EVERY one of those objects? That's just not fair at all! The point of this blog is not to say walk on eggshells with every single thing you say, but we can all stand to be more careful and thoughtful with the things we choose to have come out of our mouths. Saying the first thing that pops into your head with out any merit is common, but I've really been trying lately to stand behind each and every thing I say. And If you aren't totally sure about something, there is nothing wrong with silence. Silence is golden! With so many different forms of communication nowadays, what we say has the potential to be heard by millions upon billions! Use your words and phrases to convey your point in the most eloquent way possible. With less miscommunication in this world, the more informed we can become.
p.s. To answer the question "What are you?", my answer depends on my mood, but my favorite response is "A human" (or a flower).
p.p.s. If there is one thing I've come to know about this world we live in, it's that every single person is different, so we should not group!
p.p.p.s. I think we should make up a new sub-English language when every word only means on thing so we can all be SURE which on to use. Breenglish!