Essays

Stereotyping

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Here’s a twofold campaign: Get healthier by stamping out stereotyping.

Why eliminate stereotyping? Because there’s no good side to it. At best, this usually oversimplified perception of a person or a group can be used to poke fun. At worst it can lead to erratic behavior such as road rage, which is definitely not healthy.

On the roads here in Carpenter Country, where everyone always obeys the speed limit and no one ever tailgates (please note the tongue-in-cheek smiley face), stereotyping runs rampant.

For instance, senior drivers are often characterized as someone doing 25 MPH in the fast lane, directional signal still blinking from the last turn, with no visible person behind the wheel.

But stand back! The elderly aren’t the only typecast drivers on this pot-holed highway.

People in the 30-50 age group may not have vision and hearing problems, but are perceived to have time constraints. For them, the “behind the wheel” identity is a harried individual making a mad dash to work and/or day care, cradling a cell phone with one hand while attempting to control a rambunctious toddler with the other.

As for young people, the assumption is they’re all healthy, wealthy and wiser than the rest of us, which leads to the belief some are plagued with a mindset called “attitude.” The stereotypical teen driver: racing along at high speed, passing recklessly, usually on a double white line with an upright middle finger extended out of the window, while the boom box shakes the car.

These images, when recounted with a laugh, seem funny. But the problem is that such popular preconceptions divide us. And that can lead to intolerance, anger…even the earlier mentioned road rage.

So how do we stamp out stereotyping and get healthier at the same time?

We’ve decided whenever someone forgets to shut off their directional, seems inattentive, or blasts our ears with their music, we’ll forget stereotyping–and smile.

We figure a little levity will make us feel better. Maybe others will join in and soon everyone can roll along with less pigeon-holing and more goodwill.

After all, goodwill makes us happier, and happier people are healthier people.

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