The Formation Of Modern Human Identity
And why we as humans are so malleable and impressionable (not to be cynical, or anything ;)).
Humans are remarkably similar to puppies. As an entire species, we humans are dependent beings. Whether it be on material or assets of sentimental value to certain personality traits, we are beings solely reliant on factors partially outside of our control to determine our value or our identity. This piece of work will explore and prove that humans are reliant on external or internal factors to determine our self and perceived worth, and as such, identity.
The importance of validation
The first argument supporting said point is the importance of items of monetary value, and “experiences”, which directly correlate with external validation and seem to influence identity. This has been proven by social media outlets, such as Instagram, or Snapchat arising in the past few years, identifying an opportunity in a field of pride and “showing off” tied with marketing.
When asked why they spend time on social media in the film social_animals, the most common answer tended to be “it makes me feel like I have something to do.” Social media is replacing the notion of a job, hobby and/or identity for many people. This creates a dependency on social media and, therefore, a false sense of identity and value coming from external validation.
External validation is a factor influencing many groups of people nowadays. It is reported that teenage girls, when feeling inadequate in other aspects of life, such as school and family, turn to social media for external validation, and therefore a sense of purpose and value. This sense of value and purpose seems to influence identity on a profound level. Teens, instead of turning to the people around them, and their accomplishments, tend to seek a sense of identity from this external validation.
The pride exhibited around mannerisms
The second argument is the pride exhibited by many people around their mannerisms and traits. After being told one is a kind person (typically multiple times), one will take pride in that kindness and view that as one of their key personality traits. This will cause them to interpret that as a part of their identity, and their purpose.
Unfortunately, the downside of this is when they are told otherwise, they will feel they have lost their sense of self due to them originally considering it part of their identity. This is believed to cause mid-life crises and types of worry surrounding purpose and identity. If one does not believe themselves to have a concrete identity, they will do their best to find one, which ends up causing worry, especially when there is not much time left in one’s life.
This is also why we take so much happiness and pride in compliments. Compliments really mean nothing unless they have some sort of emotional or monetary incentive attached. However, being told something about us is good or can be regarded as impressive is heartwarming due to the emotional link to our identities and our views of ourselves.
Typically, when humans have weak views of themselves, compliments help reinforce those weakly founded views. Think of it as a building of identity built around one weakly founded pillar or belief that is constantly being built upon by heavy brick, or compliments. Then it collapses.
The ability to influence others
The third and final argument is that it is very easy to influence humans as a whole. With the right marketing and means of communication, you can advertise and get your message across, whether it was good or bad. Adolf Hitler, during WW2, used propaganda to influence and shape the beliefs of humans. By displaying people of Jewish descent in a bad light, he was able to make his point and impact the lives of around 6 million people of said descent negatively.
The use of propaganda is evident in modern mass media and marketing. From ads appearing on one’s social media “feed” to billboards and signs plastered all over cities, it is present everywhere. Propaganda has gotten to the point where it is being forced on humans. From mandatory advertisements at a movie theatre to Waze and other map-centric apps advertising certain destinations, it is inescapable.
However, in a way, the problem isn’t the propaganda itself. It is our interpretation of said propaganda and the ability of humans to be influenced and swayed in certain directions on different decisions. If the propaganda existed and was presented in this magnitude, but nobody was influenced by it, it wouldn’t be much of a problem. However, since we are so impressionable and fragile, propaganda does sway our beliefs.
We seem to be impressionable because of the first argument. Namely, we are influenced by external factors, and as a result, negative and scheming factors can slip in and make us feel different ways. Practicing infragility and the ability to be resilient and unimpressionable is important to decrease the impact of mass external influence.
So, how can humans do this?
How to rectify this basic human need
There is one key way to rectify this that will be described in depth. This is to seek a sense of identity through a complex of internal factors. External factors tend to be very risk-centric, as they are more likely to disappear or “fail” the person. Internal factors, such as personality and traits tend not to disappear and require large changes in one’s life to leave.
Additionally, focusing on the entire fact of your existence and your being in this world as your identity seems to be the undisputed resilient way to be. This is because your identity, as a result, is not determined or influenced by pride or external validation. Your identity cannot be disputed, nor can it be taken away from you.
Identity is a fragile concept. It is a concept that requires both heavy thought and the right influences. Those who have an impressionable manner and sense of self will have a fragile and impressionable identity. Those who are impenetrable and resilient will have a very strong and untouchable identity.
- Humans are reliant on external or internal factors to determine our self and perceived worth, and as such, identity.
- There is a high importance of items of monetary value, and “experiences”, which directly correlate with external validation and seem to influence identity.
- Another argument and proof supporting this is the pride exhibited by many people around their mannerisms and traits.
- This thesis can be thought of as incorrect due to the case study of people who have a fully independent sense of identity.