Identity, what is it? There is multiple definitions, both from a dictionary standpoint to a legal standpoint – these don’t encompass the true philosophy of what identity truly is. The reason we can’t truly have a good definition, is that everyone has a different thing that they feel defines them. Some people feel it’s the possessions they own, some think it is the money they make, and some think it is their career. Those people seem to be some outward goal in needing self-worth and actualization on what makes someone worthy. This is the me that I was following my mother’s upbringing (thanks mom – now you know why we haven’t talked in years – k bye-bye). This has never been me, but some people do point out that parts of this escape into my personality.
Another sense of identity is the legal documents that make you unique as an identifiable variable. These come in social security numbers, credit cards, marriage certificates, legal documents, and end with the death certificate. This is the identity that makes us a number and a cog in the machine. Whether good or bad it is just an identifier in a database. This is the identity that can get “stolen” in identity theft. However if it didn’t affect our credit ratings or pin us with bills that weren’t ours, would we really care? If someone just introduced themselves with your name somewhere else in the world, do you care if there are no repercussions? They are still stealing your identity. They can say what you like is what they like. They can say your career is their career. I think you would feel pity on them for needing to pass themselves off more than anger.
We also have something unique in our time. The idea of online identity. The bits that make up who we are that we share with the world may not even be the real us. It could be the mask we take when being with others. People where masks all the time, whether it is the wife beater that goes to church and seems pious or the motorcycle thug that cries during “My Girl”. It isn’t the complete picture that you truly see, but a mirror image or a shadow of real life. Sometimes it may all be a fabrication with no true substance behind it. This can also be an identity that some people most identify with.
If we look at uniqueness for identity we can say that our identity is the sum of our knowledge, our words, and our actions. They are all the things and steps that have carried us from birth until this moment. The camping trips, the family gatherings, the pop culture; all these things in one way or the other helped shaped you a bit. These may not define you, but I think they define me. I’m a sum of all things. I’m fine with that. I have things that I’m not proud of – but I wouldn’t change since I would be a different person without those experiences.
Is there an answer for anyone? What defines you? What makes you unique in your own mind? How do you want to be seen, is it the true you or the filtered mask? Maybe identity is all of these things, the sum of experience, the possessions you own, your number in the database. In computer terms you need to work through a few hoops before you can tell if a file is truly unique. From one stand point it might be unique like two different files, but what if the files are the same words in a different container? What if one is an image of a document, while the other is the document itself? This is not true uniqueness – it’s a different mask for the same information. How far down do we have to dig so we are not like everyone else? What is the true identity we have?