At one time in my college-education I was considering getting very involved with identity politics and in the issues of identity. It was a fascinating subject until I realized the teachers were talking theory and that practical-society was reinforcing a pop-culture understanding of identity.
What was once considered fringe is now mainstream and to many people, glamorous (even the Big-Bang Theory has shown that nerdery can be “cool”).
In college, theory is quite beautiful. I love post-modernism, post-colonialism, post-structuralism and the many branch-offs and influences-on of these rather elegant theories. The only problem with these theories that they are . . . well, theories.
Reading many of the blogs here on WordPress with the tag “identity” has shown most authors/bloggers think “identity” is about branding. You know, just like what advertisers do. This is a type of taxonomy, like what biologists do except much more hip and insidious. And we know what advertisers think of branding: a great way to increase cash-flow.
Thus, identity has only become a way to make money (“Oh, you’re gay are you? I have the perfect pair of jeans that will go with your very creative personality”).
Don’t think this is just within the realm of private enterprise. Government uses identity/branding as a way to reinforce demographic studies in order to increase government spending, increasing cash-flow and thus making money (“Oh you’re a veteran are you? I have this great government program that will reward your patriotic, military service”).
To me, identity has to do with the complexities of what makes a person a person. I think we should be trying to see an individual as a series of three dimensional matrices that changes over space/time, instead of the taxonomic/demographic labels that advertisers & government administrators would have us self-identify with.
For example: on Facebook, I stated I thought a small, federal government (smaller than 18%GDP) was a great idea. Within minutes I got lambasted by a friend for being a traitor and a Republican and congratulated by another for finally leaving the looney-left.
Oops! New one: a friend from college is shocked that I could be such a racist.
Life can never be that simple, but still cable-news (another type of pop-culture) has made “small government” a brand for tea-party extremism, white-power and religious zealotry.
There are others:
- Single-father raising kids alone = pedophile
- White male = sexist bastard
- LDS = Mormon = Republican = racist
- Moderate = rino = liberal = anti-Mormon
- English Major = mathematically inept = teacher
- Teacher = incompetent (if one can not do, then teach)
- Poet = naive = idiot = unemployed
- Artist = liberal freak = unemployed
- 40-something = intolerant
- Geek = nerd
- Beard = homicidal maniac = unemployed
- Hoody wearer = homeless (or knife-wielding Chav, if you live in the UK)
- Unemployed = incompetent
- Poor = food-stamp recipient
Whatever, maybe I’m naive.