Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

February 14, 2014

Why do we complicate things so?

VALDOSTA — Today is Valentine’s Day. A day for lovers, friends, spouses, and significant others to express their feelings to one another.

In simpler days, you simply bought a card, like the cute kids Valentine’s “Bee Mine” cards with a honeybee on it and a place for a candy heart or a lollipop and handed it out to friends. Today, there are an infinite number of ways to express your love — an e-card, a tweet, a Facebook post, a snapchat, a vine, an email, a text, and the list goes on and on. The simplest of acts is now a complicated labyrinth of possibilities.

Given the many ways that instant communication has changed our world and our personal interactions in ways both wondrous and confounding, there have always been things in life that we could always count on to stay the same; things that are certain, unbending, unchanging, that one could always count on to add some stability to our now chaotic, connected lives. But no more.

Beginning Thursday on Facebook, one essential, simple characteristic is now so confusing dictionaries are necessary to understand the definitions.

Because now on Facebook, you are no longer male or female, unless you choose to be. The one basic characteristic that all children learn at the earliest of ages — gender — now has at least 50 varieties. Yes, that’s correct - 50.

Apparently, those two choices are no longer accurate. You can be a seemingly endless variety and combination of the two, or of one, or of none. Who knew there were so many? In recent years, a third option was added to help satisfy those who did not identify with being fully male or female, but 50 varieties?

Just as the definitions of race have evolved, from the simple black, white or Indian choices given for many years to the numerous combinations of ethnicities found on demographic surveys today, it seems that gender will be the next fluid characteristic. No doubt when the next U.S. Census is taken in 2020, there will be a multitude of choices under gender, not just two.

Society has to advance and evolve to reflect changing beliefs, even challenging the most basic roles humans have identified with for millennia, but there are those who long for simpler times. Times when choices were fewer, options were limited and characteristics were either/ or not neither/ many.

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