“I’m a rare species, not a stereotype.”— Ivan Coyote
Classification is an important aspect of our human minds when it comes to an understanding of the world around us. The very process of classification leads to simplifying how things are and perhaps the way they have always been. May it be science, literature, or even our society. We tend to put everything in front of various checkboxes and ticking them off to characterize the object of interest. A stereotype is one such product of our limitations. No matter if humankind reaches its greatest potential, the idea that every other individual is as complex a mind as we are and cannot be dissected personality-wise by the culture, religion, profession, or language that they are a part of remains an unacceptable truth to our otherwise highly perceptive mind.
But the biggest question that I sometimes ask myself is what a world without stereotypes would look like? Will a society which is free from all these pigeonholes ever move forward? Or is it a utopia that has freed itself from the concept of development? In this world, the entire events of the holocaust would have been wiped out from the face of history, and Adolf Hitler might have been celebrated as a true war hero, or perhaps there would have been no war. In India, there would have been no reservation, no caste system, no religious biases, the British would have failed miserably (or might not have even tried) to partition India in the year 1947, black lives would have always mattered, night roads would have been equally unsafe for men and women, democracy should have become an impossible form of government (because all opinions matter, no majority or minority) and the list goes on.
But the reality is, such a world would never exist. Even today’s age, when people are becoming more and more aware and making a more conscious effort towards debunking every stereotype, the truth is, the end of one road leads to another. In this modern age, where countries are becoming more developed, the stereotypes one would face are also evolving. While some old stereotypes haven’t stood the test of time, certain new stereotypes have become a part of the big picture.
For example, the idea that girls should wear pink and boys should wear blue (or certain similar colors to pink and blue) has almost been unplugged out of our minds in this age where black is the new pink and blue (this again might have a chance of ending up under some box of stereotype). On the other hand, if we think of a newly emerging stereotype, an example of it could be the whole argument about introverts and extroverts. Many people have started believing that extroverts are just people who talk too much but do not have much of an opinion or rather introverts are highly intelligent. Still, the real point that people completely missed was that everyone is a bit of an introvert and a bit of an extrovert (called an ambivert), and we should learn to embrace both these sides of our personality that exist within us.
As we have realized by now, there is no end to stereotypes, not even after 10,000 years in the future, when if by any chance, we have found alien life or the existence of parallel universes. People from these universes or alien planets and humans will have a rift due to unequal representation of each group in the parliament of the galaxies. The silver lining is we would have grown above the currently existing stereotypes that far into the future. This is what keeps us going; no matter how bizarrely unexpected our future on this planet is going to be, we always should have hope for a better tomorrow.