Identity is a human construct, but, more specifically, it’s a social construct. If you were abandoned in a place without human contact and with no prospects for contact, your current perception of yourself would wither away. If you are born in this place (and managed to survive and somehow have language to self-articulate), you would have little of what one might term identity. Whether the ability to discriminate yourself from other species and objects may not qualify for identity.
Identity is not a solo sport. One needs at least two to play.
For every identity, i, the relationship must always be
i ≥ i + 1
Where by ≥ , I mean at least equal to. In fact, for each i, one may be able to argue that one should multiply the number of identities by the number of nodes, which is to say the number of participants in forming the identities. This accounts for developed personae.
i ≥ n(i + 1)
Today, this was on my mind (as it were) as I was grocery shopping. I identify as an urbanite. I’ve lived in cities and in near suburbs, but I’ve recently moved from a rural setting to a more rural setting.
Sidenote in the middle:
It’s easy to see why the US are so politically fractured. Fundamentally, I do not see the world as do my rural neighbours. I am already predisposed to be an introvert, but this gives my more reason to segregate. These neighbours just view different things as fundamentally important. And the people create a veritable monoculture. I could pretend to fit it. Instead, I remain at the margin and watch.
Thankfully, my profession allows me to work remotely, but I have the opportunity to visit cities when working closely with my clientele. To be even more honest, in my reckoning the US have only 2 cities, New York and Los Angeles. I’ve lived in Chicago, have worked in Houston, and live south of Philadelphia at the moment–the 3rd, 4th, and 5th largest cities in the US, all of which pale in comparison to numbers 1 and 2. And my heart, as it were, resides in LA.
And we’re back…
Where other people are concerned, they have a vision of our identity, and we have our own. And this doesn’t exist in a vacuum, as we somewhat adjust our identity if we wish to be accepted into the group, but we don’t typically lose our self-identity, even if we can’t fully express it.
Some identities are easier to hide than others. If I am a gay female, I can just not discuss the matter or deny it if the situation would otherwise be hostile, but it doesn’t make me less gay. And to the other party, the may see me as a nubile woman.
Fairly obviously, my mum sees me differently to my coworkers or even my spouse, and most people I’ve seen interact with their parents differently than other people. This is about the identity of the persona. This is how a 30- or 40-something can still feel like a child when interacting with a parent but would never demur to, say, a peer.
In isolation, there is no need for identity in this way. If I am a trans-male who in society identifies with wearing clothes traditionally reserved for women of the same culture, there are no other women to model myself after. If I have these clothes available, I’ll wear them. Perhaps I have left my favourite dress behind, and I remember it fondly. This was a part of my former identity.
But would I spend time dressing well and applying cosmetics if the chance of meeting another human was nil to none? Unlikely.
And what if two heterosexual males were to find themselves abandoned with little hope for rescue? Would this be Brokeback Mountain revisited? This is stereotypical prison behaviour. Of course, in this case, this is a temporary identity override, and perhaps not something to ever admit once reinserted into polite company.
Whilst shopping, I was hypercritical (though quiet) about how I did not feel I fit into the environment. I questioned whether I might be considered to be a misanthrope. Not that I hated these people, but I just did not identify with them. And though I could be civil in short doses, it was not my preference to interact.
Truth be told, there may have been plenty of other people thinking the same thing, but how would one tell? At times, I’ll wear identifying clothing, like a tee-shirt that reads ‘Jesus Saves Sinners… and redeems them for valuable cash and prizes‘. These tend to attract the like-minded people with senses of humour, and the people baited into the headline but offended by the punchline.
So, now I identify this as the end of my post…