Archive for October 2, 2014

Identities

This has been a really challenging post to write, because it touches on a lot of heated topics, so that it was very easy to descend into exactly the kind of problems that I’m hoping to steer people away from. But here goes.

The need to form an identity seems to be a universal human trait. [1] People naturally want to have a concept of who they are and where they fit into the world. Gender (as understood by a given culture), ethnicity, and nationality have been among the most widely used sources of identity, but things like religion and political affiliation have certainly played a major role as well. Some groups, bereft of identity or saddled with identities that society at large denigrates, have built new identities for solidarity. This is especially evident in African-American and LGBT communities, which shows how it can be a positive force. In recent times we’ve also seen hobbies and fandoms similarly become sources of identity for some people. The need to form an identity is so basic, so human, that we can’t really fault people for it anymore than we can fault them for needing to breathe. Identity is not the problem then, but rather the things it can lead us to if we’re not careful. I wouldn’t ask anyone to abandon their identity, but I would ask everyone (especially myself) to be more cautious and introspective with it. I like to think that I have less issues with identity than the average person, but I still kept finding that kind of thing interfering with writing this post.
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