What Is My Image of ‘Uniqueness’
Polarization vs harmony
I was checking for the images of uniqueness in Google, and most of them were similar to the image above. This image is the starting point of our discussion here. In models A and B (image below), one person is unique and others are exactly the same. In model A, the unique pencil is superior too. Probably the uniqueness is considered as an aspect of superiority. In models C and D, all are unique in themselves. Again in model C, the uniqueness of one pencil is also a reason for its superiority.
Some conclusions that can be derived from the four images are,
- An interplay between uniqueness and superiority exists.
- All believers of ‘I am unique’ needn’t believe that ‘Others are unique too’.
- The most common Google image of uniqueness points to model B, which speaks a lot about our common understanding of uniqueness.
In the next couple of sections, I would try to visualize this aspect of uniqueness from different perspectives. These perspectives are familiar domains for many of us, though we may not have given a thought in those lines. In short, I want to see whether different perspectives are giving completely to one of the 4 models, or is there a dynamic relationship.
The game of Quotes
The most incredible beauty and the most satisfying way of life come from affirming your own uniqueness. — Jane Fonda
Be yourself, everyone else is already taken — Oscar Wilde
I believe a unique core self is born into every human being; the result of millennia of environment and heredity combined in an unpredictable way that could never happen before or again. — Gloria Stienem
I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. (Psalms, The Bible)
Many religious traditions and different schools of positive thinking, motivational talks constantly speak of the uniqueness of each person — at least in theory, they preach so. They are all pointing to ‘my uniqueness’. Deep down, are they pointing to the uniqueness of all of us? I do really think so. Do they speak of a superiority? I don’t think so. At least the quotes of my selection don’t speak of a superiority.
The Game of Technology
From time immemorial, human beings are attempting to create, innovate, improve, and produce. With the development of modern science and technology, it became more systematic and rapid. We can replicate the things (mass production), which reached an extremity with capitalism and its allied forms. We can create products that are exactly similar (with negligible or invisible differences). Thus in the above image, the unbroken egg has two options.
- It is an anomaly in the production to be thrown out (it doesn’t meet the production standards).
- It is a new item produced by research, which has some better qualities than the rest, that it becomes the superior one.
Our mode of production would like to eliminate the first option and is keen on producing the same. Production research will look forward to the second option. This mentality is positively responsible for many of the comforts that have reached the corners of the world. In this world of mass production, a creation of the difference or newness(with no monetary benefits) is not an interesting proposition. Two important questions can be,
- Does technology push forward a mentality that ‘the same’ is good and ‘the unique/different’ is superior or inferior?
- Do capitalism, mass-production, and neo-liberalism aggravate this tendency?
The Game of individualism & Collectivism
The dialectic between the individual and the collective has a lot of shades with innumerable possibilities. I am writing on very general terms here; Individual societies and cultures promote independence and self-reliance. My uniqueness is affirmed strongly here. Is the other unique? I may not be so bothered about it. Do I make claims of superiority based on my uniqueness? I can, but needn’t be.
Collectivism promotes the interest of communities. it doesn’t guarantee that the uniqueness of the individual will be respected there. Two of the extreme options are given in the image below. Collectivism can give rise to hierarchical structures that can claim superiority for the sake of collective interests.
We tried analysis based on a few factors (not an exhaustive list). We remember our definitions of model A (one person is unique and superior) model B (one person is unique), model C (All are unique, but one is superior), and model D (all are unique).
- Most of the quotes I used (the choice of quotes is random) were pointing towards my uniqueness, though the deeper message is the uniqueness of all. How many really get that deeper message is a big question. Our quotes supposedly favor model D.
- Technology leads to mass production, where the production of ‘the same’ is important. In technological research, uniqueness (different result) is a sign of inferiority or superiority. That sense of superiority or inferiority is re-affirmed by capitalism, mass production, and neo-liberalism. The combination of technology & mass-production favors model A.
- Modern technology, social media, and other modes of communication helped many people to discover their potentials and talents. The degree of superiority or inferiority is crushed by the horizontal distribution of power by social-media. Communication Technology favors a journey away from model A.
- Individualism and collectivism can lead to any of the four models, depending on the other circumstances.
Based on the characteristics considered by us, there is no ‘one-fixed conclusion’. But is no preferred conclusion. All models are viable. I end with two questions,
Can Model A by a significant number of individuals/groups lead to Polarized Society?
Can Model D by a significant number of individuals/groups lead to Harmonious Society?