Friday, April 8, 2011


I'm thinking this morning about the many different folders we tend to tuck people we meet into.   Over on Empire Avenue for instance,  most everyone has some set of criteria for whom they put into their "Newbie Folder".   And I doubt there are many human beings on earth who don't, at least to some degree keep an "Assholes Folder".     Categorization is useful certainly, and just as certainly necessary--  the thousands of books in your local library would be of very little use to you, if not for the librarians who carefully classify and categorize Everything and the scores of library pages who spend their days putting books back on the shelf and making sure everything is in order.

But most of us do not have master's degrees in library science and are at times ill-equipped to quickly categorize and classify the dozens or hundreds we meet over the course of a day, a month, a lifetime.    A book that deals extensively with seven different subjects, dozens of sub-topics, multiple authors and such can easily take a professional librarian hours of work to accurately classify and create a good bibliographic record.   Most people, in my experience are at least as complicated as the most complex book I have ever handled.   Yet more often than not,  we usually just stick people into one particular folder.   And the folder that we decide to stick someone in,  usually fairly soon after first meeting them,  will to a fairly large extent color and even direct all of our subsequent interactions with them.  

People who fit into a folder that is easily labeled (deaf, blind, gay, blue-eyed, big-breasted, well endowed, tall, short, fat, skinny, shy, assertive, crippled, amputated, injured, ill, smart, funny, etc. etc) often find it Very difficult to get folks to see them as anything But the folder they got filed in.   It doesn't really matter than in many cases the file highlights something the filer considers quite good.   It is not much easier to move beyond being listed in everyone's braniac file than in everyone's crippled file.    Somehow I doubt I will persuade the bulk of the people out there to rush out and sign up for Library school.   But I do ask that today you make a special effort to file anyone you meet into at least three different folders.  

That's my thought for the day.  Here's wishing you a fantastic Friday!

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