The Existence of the Social Media Non-User

The social media non-user exists. He doesn’t lurk in the shadows; he lives in the plain light of day. He goes to the grocery store, does his laundry, and even has hobbies. But in his face-to-face social interactions, he may have to explain himself. Facebook and other social media networks inevitably come up, and he admits that he’s not on there. Cory Bullinger and Stephanie Vie wrote an article titled “After a Decade of Social Media: Abstainers and Ex-Users, ” in which they examine how social media users view non-users; how non-users view themselves; and the stated reasons why non-users do not use social media. In this, they dissect the non-user as a part of the technological revolution. After all, he is part of it just as much as social media users are.

People who don’t use social media are rendered quite simplistically into oddities, remnants of an old age, and ill-adapted to contemporary society. Moreso, they are even regarded as dangerous and poorly socialized. Bullinger and Vie say that “The literature written by users about non-users (including non-adopters or ex-users) largely discussed the costs of non-use….non-users were framed as abnormal, suspicious, or deviant. ” Vogue even wrote an article on non-users, citing that “One of Slate’s digital advice columnists has said, ‘If you are going out with someone and they don’t have a Facebook profile, you should be suspicious.'” A news outlet even made a claim that abstaining from Facebook could be an indicator that you’re capable of horrendous acts like being a mass murderer, like James Holmes.

The social media non-user is placed in a critical position of needing to publicly defend himself.

Why do we feel an intense pull to have a presence on social media? Why do we regard those without it as suspicious? The social media non-user has become the pillar of oddity, instead of being just another participant in society who has his personal reasons not to engage. We have become socially self-policing in our suspicion of those without profiles on the primary social media networks. The trouble is that the grasp of social judgment has fallen to non-geographically specific levels. Rather than belonging to close-knit communities, we detach ourselves under the pretense of more connectivity. The more far-reaching we are in the social sphere, the more superficial our communications become and the more tailored they are for the broadest audience possible. Whereas in real life we separate our friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances, with social media we communicate with all of these groups simultaneously.

photo by Irene Dávila

The trouble is that social control has reached such a serious level around social media that those without it are regarded as obtuse and even socially dangerous. Self-exclusion has been transformed into an imagined admittance of guilt. The assumption is that those without social media must be hiding something. The fact that an individual cannot be found in the Facebook search bar implicates him with serious reservation and suspicion. Part of the fear is in his invisibility. “As researchers like Cynthia L. Selfe (1999) and Dennis Baron (2009) have argued, the pervasiveness of technologies renders them invisible; we would argue here that the ubiquity of social media now renders non-users nearly invisible as well.”

It’s no secret that some potential employers are screening applicants by searching for them on social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Questions may fester in their minds if they can’t find someone. Are they using a different name? Did they deactivate their accounts before applying for new jobs? What are they hiding? Abstaining commands far more suspicion than having social media does in our current world. As a non-user myself, I have written in defense of my decision to abstain in the past. I felt propelled to explain myself, even though I was not explicitly prompted to do so. Even this action is somewhat demonstrative of a fear that I will be misunderstood and misconstrued. The act of explaining a decision publicly points to the obvious insecurity in the ability for others to understand why a decision was made.

The social media non-user exists, but he stands on uneven ground. At once, he retains the dignity assigned to making the personal choice to abstain. Concurrently, he finds himself in a socially precarious position, regarded in deviant terms and even being rejected from potential jobs and other opportunities.

The New Literacy

I recently went to two different trainings held by local small business development governmental agencies. In each of these, the speakers made similar statements regarding the future of communication. The first lecturer made several claims that people are no longer reading. She was referring to blogs and long articles published online. Instead, she proposed, people want to look at images. Her second statement was a prediction of the death of email. The second lecturer similarly alluded to the idea that individuals are no longer reading through stating that a blog post should take 15 minutes to write. Minimal effort, she pushed, is required for this task. Volume over quality. And they may well be right, the majority of their audiences may well not be interested in reading more than a few loosely structured sentences. Scaled in our micro-communities and extending out to celebrity networks, simplified, easily-digestible messages and pictorial representation have become the new literacy.

Part of this change in media, which I spoke about in Molding Mediums, shifts the type of content that we publish and consume. Beyond the concept of wide-spread literacy, the new focus is on literacy of “proper” social exposure. In this I mean that time-consuming intellectuality has been rejected in preference of playing the game of social media. Where literacy was once one of the ultimate determinants of cultural fluency, the turn has moved to social visibility, regardless of the morality and ethics attached to the communications. Entertainment trumps intellectualism. Followers trump thought-out arguments. The new literacy is social media prowess. Social media has changed the way that we communicate. On each platform, we abide by different regulations of the medium, whether these rules are strict or guidelines.

Marshall McCluhan, author of Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, states that “‘the medium is the message’ because it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.” Social media literacy is ultimately controlled by the intent of the author. In contrast with theories on the intention of the author when it comes to works of literature (Intentional Fallacy), social media places closer authorship on the person posting. Despite the phrase seen on Twitter that “retweets and likes are not endorsements”, the phrase bears questioning the ability and willingness of the author to take responsibility for his spurts of communication, regardless of their origination.

Dry Deser Foliage photo by Olenka Kotyk

The new literacy has mapped humans for the current communication medium. Those who cannot abide by the disclosure “requirements” of society through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other accounts, fall into obscurity. Those who master the manipulative techniques of those mediums are rewarded with audiences who numbly self-inject, respond, and deflect the opinions of those who they follow. The new literacy has become so entrenched in our society that once in applying for a job, I was prompted for “LinkedIn, it’s 2017. Everyone has one right?” Similarly, I saw a new celebrity author respond to negative criticism on her new book with a remark about the criticizer’s minuscule amount of followers. Social affluence is indeed quantified by those in positions of wide-reaching virtual exposure.

Ironically, the transformation of reach from ability to read to abstracted numerical followers has happened in conjunction with “clumsy literature, without order or syntax, full of apocopes and jargon, sometimes undecipherable.” Vargas Llosa continues, explaining that this is the communication “that dominates the world of blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other Internet-based communication systems, as if the authors, by using this simulacrum that is the digital order to express themselves, feel free from all formal requirements, authorized to ride roughshod over grammar, synderesis, and the most elementary principles of linguistic correctness.”

This attempt to unknowingly or knowingly restructure literacy gives more weight to audience size than it does to the sophistication, astuteness, or even relevance of the communication. This shift in literacy is moving in parallel with declined attention span and corroded ability to reason. Vargas Llosa points to a scholar studying “the effects of the Internet on our brains and on our behaviour” in his Notes on the Death of Culture. He says “Christof van Nimwegen, detected after one of his experiments: that to rely on computers for the solution to all cognitive problems reduces our brain’s ability ‘to build stable knowledge structures’.” The mediums of communication by which we now measure social worth encourage us to simplify, shorten, and disrupt with graphics information. We use the same mediums readily to share human tragedies and cat videos. We de-formalize even the most serious of communications, rendering mockery to weighty messages and teasing reactions from our acquired audiences. The new literacy disfigures rigorous study, impales us with superfluous images, and claims the new core of relational measurement of social affluent.

Displacement of Consumer Guilt

The displacement of consumer guilt is riddled into the fabric of our current consumer climate. Commodity fetishism is at the forefront of our age, plastered into all crevices we can manage to stick an advertisement or endorsement on. When we take part in this fetishism, we invariably turn ourselves into a type of spectacle of consumerism. Think of YouTube’s un-boxings, Instagram’s hauls, and the demonstration of seasonal crafts and materials on blogs. As Mario Vargas Llosa says, “The obsessive acquisition of manufactured products, which keeps commodity production actively increasing, brings about the ‘reification’ of individuals, turns them into object.” It’s a funneled system in which acquisition and display take interchangeable roles, each propelled by one another. The obtaining of these objects depletes the individual, who sees quite the opposite. In so gaining material objects, he founds and fosters an identifiable act.

This fetishism is prominently displayed especially in new campaigns to purchase from second-hand shops and companies that have ethical labor regulations. Ironically, the very people projecting the need to purchase from these sources are those who display their commodity acquisitions for a wide audience. Consumers are encouraged not to take part in purchasing from “fast fashion” companies like Forever 21 and H&M. Instead, they are driven to “do good” by spending more money, but diverting the sources from which these purchases are made. Nevertheless, the fetishism has not halted, only been redirected. If you have walked into an H&M, you may see a call-to-action to donate old clothing in exchange for receiving a percentage off of your purchase. Consuming has in effect been redirected, but the attempt to rid the purchaser of guilt from the transaction is all too clear to those paying attention. Here, fast fashion and charitable (or eco-forward) action mingle in a weird soup of opposites.

Spring in the Alps photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel

In my example, fast fashion is padded with the “positive” message that textiles donated will be recycled. In essence, corporate messaging like this is “making up” for weak labor laws. It places the brunt on the responsibility on the consumer. Concurrently, it distracts the consumer from the responsibility of the corporation to bring ethicality to the world of mass consumerism and poor treatment of labor. It’s a guilt economy that benefits the corporation, not only redirecting spending but placing the ethical burden on the consumer. In cyclical form, the consumer attaches his purchasing power with his social power, subjects himself to advertisements, relinquishes and simultaneously absorbs guilt for unethical practices, and in doing so, poses himself in the chain of manufacturing. As Vargas Llosa puts it, “In this world, things – commodities – have become the real controllers of life, the masters that men and women serve in order to guarantee the production that enriches the owners of the machines and industries that manufacture these commodities.” He links the chain.

Commodity fetishism, as we can see through the example, plays different roles for sub-culture groups in society. For some, logos are a status symbol and for others, “ethical” clothing is put on display. Each of these forms of consumption serve an audience. Logos pose an individual in the light that the wearer imagines it does. Likewise, obtaining “ethical” fashion comes with a message of change. But the latter often does not entirely denounce mass-produced goods. In fact, it may prove to be quite difficult in our time to limit our purchasing to those materials which are ethically sourced. This is given that consumer drive is taken to be a form of justification or approval of continuation of poor practices. It is unspoken that consumers have limited purchasing ability. Again, the corporation displaces the reasoning for their practices on the consumer.

The burden of guilt’s displacement to the consumer is not altogether incorrect. Mass culture has been molded of people altogether resoundingly clinging to commodity. Vargas Llosa says “the ways in which advertising and fashion shape and promote cultural products today are a major obstacle to the formation of independent individuals, capable of judging for themselves what they like, what they admire, or what they find disagreeable, deceitful or horrifying in these products. Rather than developing individuals, the culture-world stifles them, depriving them of lucidity and free will, causing them to react to the dominant ‘culture’ with a conditioned, herd mentality, like Pavlov’s dogs reacting to the bell that rings for a meal.”

The contemporary consumer is made to violate human rights by gorging on the media that propels him to crave commodity. He loses grip of connectedness to his principles, if it comes with material reward. The economic system turns him into a depraved supporter of those very things he decries. He keeps those worlds away from himself in as abstract a manner as possible. The factories are across the world, after all. Everyone else is buying this product, after all. He has little to no other options, after all. His guilt is systematically programmed into the make of modern society. He is the displacement of consumer guilt, yielding to it, accepting it, and denouncing it.

Prompted Social Engagement

Prompted social engagement is the new social conformity. In Mario Vargas Llosa’s Notes on the Death of Culture, he says that “In our times, artists are not expected to show talent or skill but rather affectation and scandal, and their daring statements are nothing more than the masks of new conformity.” We see it everywhere – social media celebrities, YouTube stars, and other people who have gathered an impressive following – are publishing books and making social and political statements. Their words and personas are held in sanctity regardless of their true ability for deliberate criticism of the current socio-political climate. Where we see formulated stances, we see conformity. Clusters of high-exposure individuals group around topics of immediate relevance. There is little or no follow-up. Causes of tremendous importance gain instant traction but do not yield longterm attention.

The worries of last week are not the same as this week. Yesterday we saw social media feeds filled with images and statements regarding gun control. Today we see toned and muted proclamations against sexual violence. A large portion of people are quick to forget the problems unless another incident arises. Immediate involvement through impassioned statement and monetary donation serve to satiate the primal emotional response we have to the horrific events that we are impacted by. We momentarily feel we’ve done enough. As a society, we wait to be prompted for a reminder of what we’re supposed to fight and address. The influx of reminders create a steady wave of prompted engagement.

Prompted social engagement serves the image of the social media figure when the response is deemed appropriate. In political situations that do not involve casualties, you may see a comedic approach to the subject matter. Where casualties are involved, you may see highly visible declarations explaining sadness for the situation. When seeing enough of these, we may begin to feel they’re a formality that comes with being in a socially exposed position. Though the sentiments may be authentic, they are presented in a short-lived medium that quickly becomes clotted with promotional, comedic, and other material representative of the public persona.

photo by Luca Bravo

The social media feed tells a tale of quick, formulated interjections. The disjointedness of messages makes for a stilted narrative. The feed is a fragmentation, and calls to human action are wedged between non-correlative information. It’s a form of heightened juxtaposition. Engagement is prompted in two layers. First, the sources of social leverage formulate statements, to which individuals respond through interaction with those statements. While unpleasant, appeasement comes from the politically correct formulation of the events. Gratification comes from engagement with the proper content that aligns with the outer, branded image of the individual.

This is not to say that people should restrict or refrain from addressing catastrophic social events. It is simply to recognize the role of social figures in social engagement. It is further a call to recognize that we wait to be prompted by formulated announcements from media outlets, whether corporations or individual brands. We should be careful to recognize overly political-correct methods of addressing current issues. We need also to recognize our role in the hyper-pigmented current of immediate response. Colored commentary may fade faster than well-formulated responses that consider the issues more deeply. Lest we forget the issues until re-prompted, we may do well to censor urgency in response if it only serves our public image.

Prompted social engagement serves in a moment to engage a sense of togetherness in agreement. However, it is often short lived and many times unable to make for lasting change. The fixation on change and dramatic reform are new modes of conformity. The social figure responds appropriately along the wave of timely reply to the prompted social engagement. Trigger and counter. Prompt and answer.

Renouncing my Inauthenticity

I have been writing for this blog over the course of the past year. At first, my intention was to gather an audience. Plainly, this would function much like the base of a social media following. There would be a lot of free information, and perhaps later I would be able to collect a small income from this source (through ads and affiliate links, which I do not do). As the months passed, I wavered between creating content for an unknown audience and being an authentic representation of myself. When I wrote content for the intended mass audience, I was able to rank well for SEO. However, the content that appeases the false god Google is not satisfying. If I were to go with the crowd, I would be buried with content from corporate sources. And worse yet, I would be rejecting the very principles that drove me to writing down my thoughts in the first place.

I have too far often written with less vigor and less strength than I have. In reality, I have been making my writings “easier” to read. In doing this, I have potentially alienated those people who enjoy reading more complex, theoretical works, while attempting to appeal to those people who would not particularly enjoy my writing. Of course, I have not done this with all of my writings, but a keen eye will be able to tell which posts take a simplified tone.

I have often been critical and vocal about the emergence of social media, and rather than play nice with the topic, I’ll forge ahead as one of the only few who sees the complications it poses for our society. Formerly, I have stayed mild about the topic, fearing backlash. Aside from speaking about the difficulties of social media, I will continue to be a proponent of the idea that all humans are innately creative. Regarding the culture that we had lost through quick and more digestible media, I will continue be one of the few who recognizes that we have lost significant intellectualism in the process.

Raindrops photo by Virgil Cayasa

In Mario Vargas Llosa’s Notes on the Death of Culture, he states that intellectuals are “aware that they are snubbed by the society they live in…Confined to their discipline or their particular concerns, they turn their back on what fifty years ago was called the civic or moral ‘commitment’ of writers and thinkers to society. There are exceptions but, among these exceptions, those that count – because they have media exposure – tend to be more interested in self-promotion and exhibitionism than in the defense of principles and values.”

I have addressed some of my beliefs on the topic of work ethics, but now I am expanding my writings to include culture in a broader sense, and particularly regarding our exposure to various medias. Vargas Llosa says later in the text, “Today images have primacy over ideas.” Now is not the time to lose our sense of philosophical exploration, especially not in lieu of the superficial lives we have created online. Reflection and purposeful consumption of ideas, in whichever way they are presented, are indispensable.

In reality, I know very little about the people I am reaching. All I know is myself. And with that, I can say that some of my blog posts have done little in terms of pushing forward the passion I have for my ideas about culture, ethics, and creativity. Instead, I have relegated my foundational beliefs about modern life to unsophisticated lists of information better gotten through another source. In renouncing my inauthenticity, I gain back the vigor and prowess of unbuttoning those issues that we seem quick to ignore. Where has intellectual stamina gone? Where has our ability to determine logical fallacies from argumentative discourse gone? At the wayside, I believe there still festers a community of people asking these questions. They are overshadowed by the overabundance of media at the moment. But here you will be able to find some authentic perspective on an alternative mode of thought.

An Imposition Economy

We have established an imposition economy. It’s no secret that we live in an attention-based and meticulously curated sensory space. With an onslaught of unnecessary, rudimentary, over-the-top, and in every way intensified way of consuming media, the imposition economy rules. Now, what do I mean by imposition economy? I’m talking about the mode by which we reach people. More often than not, products and services appear before us without us asking. They come in form of pop-up ads, billboards while driving, unsolicited emails, and many other ways. But the same goes for individual branding. People are becoming personal brands, whether they like it or not. Their information is available online, and we can glean an overview of a distorted version of that individual.

The imposition economy works in conjunction with the quantification of individuals. It works in regimentation, however strict or loose. The individual has become a publication by releasing “candid updates” of his or her individuality and lifestyle. From the part of the individual, when he or she does not have outer-formed social cache, imposition can become the mode of this brand creation. Boiled down, social media is another form of validation. Brick and mortar institutions have had their day and are still playing a part in this validation process. However, social media has cultivated a more direct and more vicious formulation of societal branding, conforming, and objectification.

Moon photo by Nathan Anderson

To speak of the imposition economy is tricky, because it relies on an initial process of opting in.

This is to say that those who will be imposed on readily accept inclusion in the updates provided by the individual brands that they follow. What they rely on thereafter is that the individual brand will deliver, but not over-deliver or under-deliver. There is a fine line between the two, and imposition occurs depending on the follower’s arbitrary judgment of over-deliverance. Note that this imposition is only one of the ways on which I use the term. The judgment is arbitrary because if it does not depend on strict measures. This judgment can depend on formulation of communication, including disclosure of opinion that the follower does not agree with. For example, one individual may follow another, who then begins consistently posting regarding his or her new business venture. The follower then becomes uncomfortable with the content he or she is receiving. This imposition is agreed to, but can end at any time. However, there are sometimes social repercussions for unfollowing an individual.

The relationship between the follower and the individual brand is voyeuristic versus mutual.

The imposition economy is associative on many levels as well. Beyond tying the follower to opinions, lifestyle, and scandal, he or she is also tied to his habitual voyeurism. Social media brings the intimacy of individuals right into the palms and onto the computer screens of varying groups of people. The delayed and masked voyeurism becomes normative, if not encouraged. It’s not uncommon for people and companies to screen others by looking at their social media presences. Here, the complexity of social media is all the more cast. Not only is the imposition economy dependent on opting in, but it’s dependent on approved voyeurism. It subverts all of the traditional social barriers that constitute etiquette.

Forest photo by Teddy Kelley

Spinning mores on their head, social media conflates deviant behaviors with expected behaviors.

Voyeurism and imposition make up social media and we are expected to reconcile these behaviors with our “real world” actions. In one arena of our lives, we act one way, which in another we act quite contrary. These deviations are normative online, yet when we interact in person, we find it hard to disclose our online activities with as much openness. We are faceted into a pseudo-closeted online user, who often misidentifies with our walking-breathing self. The imposition is demanded and expected. We’ve all become the shameless peddling salesmen of our own personal brand.

5 Things to do When You Start Freelancing

When you start freelancing, you may not have robust formal experience and portfolio items. But with dedication and time, you can build up a repertoire of clients and works. Here are the 5 Things to do When You Start Freelancing. Use them as a guideline and tailor them to your own liking. Everyone’s freelancing speciality and client base is different, so remember to stay true to the basic principles of good business. This is namely proper communication and strict adherence to deadlines. Add your own individual principles as you discover them.

1. Publish your own content

You’re not restricted to creating content only under other people’s terms. If you want to build up your own portfolio, don’t be shy about creating content on your own terms and publishing it online. You may have your own blog, Behance account, or public GitHub repository. Think about the type of content that you want to work with, and think about the type of content that best demonstrates your abilities. Use this as a jumping off point to show off your skills online. Remember the poignant advice, show don’t tell. Instead of telling your clients how good you are at what you’re selling, send them a link.

2. Listen selectively to advice

Be the champion of skepticism when you start anything new! Not everything you hear about freelancing will be applicable to you, let alone useful. Seeking out too many avenues of advice may leave you feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. For some, it’s better simply to start and trust your ability to perform well. Don’t go in blind, but also don’t go in thinking you’ll always need internet advice to make a business decision. Be critical of advice that sounds unhelpful, ill conceived, and outright or covertly unethical. As you work more, you’ll gain a better grasp of your freelancing acumen.

Desk Photo by Justin Veenema

3. Foster your passion

Freelancing doesn’t always means having a steady stream of clients and income. During slow times, it’s easy to be discouraged, and even to begin blaming the lack of work on yourself. Forget the negative self talk. You may still have it, but transform that into positive passionate energy. Remind yourself why you love doing what you do. Even when you’re doing a less-than-ideal job for a client, tell yourself that you’re working on your craft. Take pride in even the smallest menial jobs and be thankful that someone wants something that you’re creating!

4. Be an exacting bidder

When you start freelancing, you’re building a foundation that represents your body of work. Yes, you should already be thinking about your body of work. This is the culmination of your efforts over a long period of time. Recognize yourself within the culture of your craft. When you do this, you identify more worth in your work. With this said, be an exacting bidder. Don’t blindly send out proposals for every job that you see. Be discerning and critical of the choices you’re making along the way of establishing yourself as top-notch in your field.

5. There are no mistakes

Missing a deadline is not a mistake; it’s a choice to be disorganized. Miscommunication is not a mistake; it’s a lapse in ability on either or both ends to formulate a clear request or response. Recognize the underlying issue, don’t just chalk it up to making a mistake. Be prepared to take immediate action to change your work process or style of communication. Pinpointing your faults is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself in your professional (and personal) life. And you’re likely to come to the conclusion that your faults traverse both of these arenas!

For more information about freelancing, check out the following blog posts:

5 Things You Need to Know Before Freelancing

5 Freelancing Tips for Avoiding Client Issues

The Comfort of Categorization

In categorization, we find topical appeasement with ourselves. It is said that we fear most the unknown. And if this saying is correct, many of us fear ourselves for lack of knowing who we are. In attempts to quicken the process of self-acquaintance, we may join various groups throughout our lives. We do this to gain some sense of identification. However, these group memberships do not always align with our true selves, and we are left with identification sans investable resonance. Often, we categorize ourselves so that others may understand our relationship to a belief system or activity. However, we may not have reconciled ourselves with the system represented by this categorization.

Nomenclature as identity

When we seek outright categorization, it is because we feel insecure about our identity. What better way to understand our beliefs than to define ourselves in the categories appropriate for a belief system? It is the easy way, and fails many times to actually guide us to ourselves. To seek categorization solely for its own sake, we come up short in the act of self-discovery.

Categorization will inevitably require action if it serves as more than a social representation of allegiance and participation in a group. It’s one thing to say one is a dancer, and another to dance. The act of categorization remains often for those not entirely committed to their identity, or unwilling to part with the group that no longer serves their life path.

Tree in Forest of Plants photo by veeterzy

Personality tests and personhood

There are many tests available online that will categorize you into a personality group. Some employers even pay for subscriptions so that they can have their employees take the test. One employer will use the test to help ease tensions in the workplace, whereas another employer will leverage the personality test in malicious intent of subduing “stronger” personalities. If a personality test is shared, it serves someone.

The personality test provides little insight, other than to the individual clouded with misperceptions of himself. Even so, holding those misperceptions, he is not likely to pay attention to those categorizations that do not serve him. Personhood cannot be incapsulated in a test, particularly given the changing tides of people’s emotions, momentum, and more. The invalidity of these personality test nevertheless comfort those who receive the results.

Group categorization and sense of belonging

There is comfort in categorization. Perhaps the comfort is derived from a sense of belonging to a group, whether superficially or not. Through categorization, only slight commitment is required. There is no minimum of meetings and phone calls that necessarily tie an individual into a categorization. It is enough to claim acceptance, induction, membership through the means outlined by the group, if such means are specified.

Some groups require far more prerequisites to admission than do others. Comfort is born of the established formal ability to define oneself within that space, and often, with minimal effort. Different personalities are drawn to particular levels of regimentation in their categorizations. Some believe that more regimentation will keep them truer to the live they are supposed to live. The same can be said of those belonging to the most loosely regimented groups.

Dunes of Namib by Keith Hardy

Categorization is a bond that’s sought or put onto people, and is veiled with a sense of comfort when the association is culturally acceptable. Alternatively, categorization can render an individual with a cultural disservice if the bond was not personally chosen (or felt like it was not chosen), or is not culturally acceptable. Some seek membership in groups for the purpose of categorical differentiation, and this serves a cultural purpose when played as a rebellious act.

The intricacies of group belonging go beyond interconnectivity and seep to personal, hierarchical, and regimented planes. Through repercussion (with neutral connotation) of categorization, individuals establish presence and relation within spectrum of belief. Comfort invariably arises, even from the most socially detrimental categorizations, maybe for the sole fact that nomenclature has been established.

There is comfort in categorization because there is comfort in definition. Definition combats the unknown, which some may fear above all else.