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Re: Definitions

May 18, 2008

This is the post that got me thinking, and the following are my thoughts on the subject.

For some reason or another, I have never been interested in figuring out who I truly am. Because of great self-confidence, or perhaps just a very large ego, I’ve always thought “This is me; I don’t need an adjective”. And yet, because I just can’t stay away from any form of social networking, I fill out profiles and bios all the time. So, while I am not concerned with self-definition, I am somewhat obsessed with self-presentation. What’s the difference? It’s not for me; it’s for you.

Therefore, the idea that identity may be a “fabrication of the people around [you]”, is exactly how I’ve always thought of it. But is that surprising? Think about it. I’d love to think about myself a certain way. But which matters more, whether I define myself that way, or whether other people do? If I think I’m being polite and everyone else thinks I’m a bitch, they’re going to treat me as such. When it comes down to it, does what I think really matter?

Once a group and the roles are established, it’s very hard to change because you’re not just changing your self-definition; you’re changing the whole group’s thought. Moreover, having a role places some sort of value on your personality and you want to protect that. Therefore, if you enter another group, you will most likely take on a role that does not exist because everyone wants to avoid competition over their niche. Self-presentation then needs to attempt to place you in your most preferred role from the start, and slowly adjust until you find a solid position (and hopefully it’s one you like).

So does this mean we don’t really know our friends, that we only know one small piece of them? Yes and no. If you only see that friend with the same group, then yes, you probably only know them on a somewhat superficial level. But most of the time, friends do things as smaller groups, and the roles adjust to make up for the people who are not there. More facets of a person’s personality emerge and you know more about him. That’s the difference between good friends and acquaintances. And even among friends, judgement will always be biased by the roles taken on in specific situations. I know several people who I think are great because they’ve always been great around me, but who I’ve heard awful stories about them from others. And I probably have stories that I don’t want to share with all my friends for the sake of reputation too. So I’m willing to see only what people present to me, whether it’s their whole self or a part. Honestly, if they don’t want to share, do I really want to know? Like they say, ignorance is bliss…until it interferes, and then I want to know.

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