Firmin Didot was a hardworking printer in 18th century France. He built a metal plate that would print nothing but the same pattern on all the pages, however different, again and again and again. The old man called it stereotype. What I think about, though, is — could he have ever expected the same thing to happen to man’s brain too, and that too a couple centuries into the bright-progressed-future?
Humans have to generalise everything, I get that. It helps us process a lot of information together and faster. And sometimes times maybe that’s helpful; at least, it was, until we over did it and messed it up again. Until all of us somehow managed to morph the factors of possibility and probability, into solid facts!
Lady on a steering wheel always equals traffic jam. Man with a bun always equals hippie. Guy with a different walk always equals gay. Girl with a boy-cut always equals lesbian.
When a snake fang bites you, it sends the venom soaring into your bloodstream — solidifying your blood cells, making their free flow impossible. And that is exactly what stereotyping does to your grey cells. Free flow of thought is blocked, the grey matter is frozen, and there are barriers and mind-blocks lurking in every cubicle of our heads.
From religious and racial, to gender and caste – fangs everywhere. Even the animals are not spared! Cats are stereotyped as selfish and lazy beings. I’ve had enough pet cats to vouch that this is NOT true. They stay even when they don’t want food (surprise surprise!), and they are definitely not lazy (OH MY.)
Our minds are a deluxe Pandora’s box— brilliant and untameable AF. How could you possibly manage creating typecast compartments without messing up and shitting all over? Maybe you don’t realise, but you have already paralysed your imagination, cracked your empathy, and totally broken your sense of perception. Not every tall and dark human plays basketball. Not every Indian is a member of the cricket cult. Not every Muslim goes around dropping bullets and bombs. Not every Bihari wants to crack IAS exam. Not every Marwadi and Gujju is obsessed with money. Not every Bengali likes sweets and fish. (I don’t, and I am alive) .
Just one stereotype changes your knowledge and impression about someone, and that changes everything. I have been in conversations where people are having a wonderful time, but the minute they realised that the other is from a certain religion or caste or even region, they wasted no time in scurrying away. Are we here just to come to baseless one-fits-all conclusions about people and the society? That is how you plan to navigate and live? Like a horse with blinders (there, I just did one to prove my point.) Or can you tax your brain, mend your imagination and understand that most beings are far more complex to fit your mundane cliches. Look deeply at them, hear them out and then be ready to whisper, “I’d have never guessed”.
Sketch By: Tejo Guna