20 July 2015

The modern man is over-concerned with identity. It is important to a sense. Being aware of one’s socio-economic status, race, sexuality, religion, and the intersection of those identities is important for understanding issues in the world and how conflicts arise and interactions are made.


But personal identities have gotten out of hand. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen the Twitter/Tumblr/etc. bio with the description “writer, (blank) aficionado, (blank) activist”. Note the all lowercase. Note the amount of commas, titles, varying adjectives. We’re striving so hard to stick our heads above the masses. To stand out and be somebody and show the world how different we are.


Foodtruckers are what I’d like to call the popular group of people who exert great effort to stay on top of trends, embrace the counterculture that is on the verge of mainstream, and think eating out of overpriced foodtrucks is a must when visiting Portland. To avoid turning this into a Buzzfeed article about “yuccies” or some other brand of cookie-cutter Millennial who refuses to believe they’re from a cookie-cutter, let me say this: there is nothing wrong with foodtrucks or even the people who like foodtrucks. The problem is that people spend too much time defining themselves by their interests for others to see than defining themselves by the disciplined effort exerted into these interests that would allow them to become interesting people. Don’t over-identify with being a painter when you spend <1 hours a week actually painting. This tendency leaves not only a stain on a generation, but our self-absorption blinds us from the very important role identity has to play.


Understanding oneself is essential to understanding others. Through understanding others, change can occur. But when we become obsessed with personal identity and use our knowledge of other people for the sole purpose of defining ourselves, we become self-absorbed. With a world of self-concerned people constantly rewriting their life stories, privilege is squandered and abused, rather than employed to make a difference.