Labels, #Tags, and other Annoyances


My mother gave me a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens a couple of years ago.  She told me, “I’m not sure you will like it. Most of the time, I don’t.  I worry the paper it’s  printed on is a complete waste of trees.” She went on getting more and more worked up. “Whenever I open it up, I see these women—-” and she spit out the word “women” like she was talking about terrorists who kill puppies.  ”These women are just stand around grinning and happy.  All that just makes me want to vomit! ”

Right about here is where I started laughing at her.  ”Mother! Why would happy women make you want to vomit?”

“Well,  it is just so fake. They stand around just grinning at each other.  Or worse…they grin at a plate of food or a bag of chips or something they see on the table!  That is not how anybody lives.”

“Maybe it is just advertising companies trying to get people to buy their chips. They use happy people for that.”

“No. I mean the people in the articles and things.  Not the ads. Of course, the ads are fake.”  I could tell she was disappointed that I was not jumping on the loathing bandwagon.

“But you’re giving me a subscription?”

“It’s only fifteen dollars. Now and then I find a nice gardening idea— so I broke down and bought you a subscription.”

“Thanks, Mother.”

This month’s edition of BHG came and right on the cover was picture of fall flowers arranged in what looked like an aluminum composting bucket. Salads were displayed in old-fashioned cocktail glasses. Mason jars held silverwear.  A stylist, lifestyle expert and cookbook author stood grinning by a patina covered tin box that was used as a platform for the salads/cocktails.  Suddenly I started to feel it.  Nausea.  The jars had tin colored paper tags tied around the jars’ lips with twine.  One announced “spoons”. The other “forks.”  Thanks, I needed to be reminded what those silver things were…

The obvious take-away is this– folks like obvious.  It helps compartmentalize and make sense of the world.  Shoot, without our ability to use our brains to create labels and categories with a bunch of  what is really just meaningless sounds, humans would not have language.  And stylists seem to like labels and they attach them willy-nilly.  I guess it is just me, (and my mother) who find fake stuff annoying. I can look at a fork and know it is a fork.  No need to grin.  Tell me something I do not know!

Yes, it is true that Alice in Wonderland needed the tag to tell her to “Drink Me” when presented with the little bottles on the table, full of unknown liquids that she rashly guzzled. But nothing she ate or drank in the story has a tag stating the obvious.  No  ”bottle.”   Or  ”cake.” Or  ”mushroom.”

#hashtags of obvious stuff annoy me.  Superfluous tags, no matter how cute are not helpful.  Except maybe to the person who made the tag.  Was it fun gathering the supplies and practicng just the right amount of careless handwritng?  If so…GOOD JOB.

Our culture has grown so used to meaningless labels and #hashtags that when anyone puts on a tiara and flounces about, we feel pressured to label the experience.  We feel pressured to explain.  Well, sometimes it annoys me.

If I have a crown on my head, I do not need a label, do I?  I am a queen– in my heart and in part of my life.  The obvious rhinestone “tag” is right there glittering on my head.  I think that is really enough.


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