In defense of "labels"

people_labelsThe usage of labels in our various lifestyles is something that I have been mulling over for quite a while.  Lately we have heard multiple podcasters talk about them in various ways, so when the infamous (but always quite lovely)  Swap Fu team wrote about "My problem with the term Progressive Swinging," I felt inclined to add my own sentiments.

Before I reply to the specific critiques of the blog post, lets look at the bigger pictures.   What do we really mean with the word "label?"


1. a piece of paper, card, or other material attached to an object to identify it or give instructions or details concerning its ownership, use, nature, destination, etc.; tag
2. a brief descriptive phrase or term given to a person, group, school of thought, etc. the label "Romantic'' is applied to many different kinds of poetry
3. a word or phrase heading a piece of text to indicate or summarize its contents

Of course, neither Wikipedia or the old dictionary are the boss of us, but this does reflect our intrinsic feeling on these.  They are tools to help communicate a certain set of attributes, not definitions by themselves.   If somebody calls something a "car," we won't know if that thing is a Mini Cooper or a Hummer,  hybrid or diesel-powered, but we will know that it is not a lawnmower or a pony.

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