Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by ☆Luna☆, Aug 20, 2016.

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  1. I haven't been around general chat for some time, so I figured I'd come back with some of my thoughts that need a bit of sorting through.

    Lately, I've been thinking about what people attribute to themselves. In my time thinking, I've come up with a few different categories of things that people identify with.

    1. People define themselves based on what they've done in the past
    2. People define themselves by what they engage in presently
    3. People define themselves by what they have planned for the future
    4. People define themselves based on what they wish they could be
    Not everyone factors these in equally, or even at all, but I think that it is interesting to think about how identifying with these factors causes a shift in how people interact with the world. For example, I identify myself primarily by who I wish to be. I think my self-image is built like 5%, 10%, 35%, 50%. Because my sense of self has only a little bit to do with my current lot in life, I think that I'm less prone to beating myself up over a failure. But also, it means that my sense of self might be quite different than the way people view me. Until I have the chance to communicate a detail as intimate as the way I view myself and my place in the world, I feel quite distanced from the people around me.

    I started to think about this from the perspective of my RP characters. I think that it is common for characters to identify with their past most strongly in the beginning. This is because it is an easy source of conflict in the absence of a collective narrative. As the RP goes on, characters shift towards the identification with the present. It is sort of our way of empathising the way that the events of the RP have made an impact in the way the character views themselves and the world. But also, many characters define themselves based on an internal conflict between their present and their future.

    But that is where I started to look at this from a society perspective. In particular, I'm talking about the rise of SJWs, political correctness, and fantastic identity. I think that as a society, many people have moved into this fourth category, and they are experiencing the downsides of using this for identity. While previously, people identified most closely with their present state of affairs, now people want to identify with their ideal selves. We like to identify by how we would like to be rather than what we currently are. With this comes the natural dissonance between reality and fantasy. People more than ever need to have their identity reinforced because in the lack of social support, it might not hold up.

    When I thought about what caused this change, I sort of pointed towards the internet. On the internet, people know you mostly by symbols that you can control. You aren't really held accountable to reality. Even though I'm a male, I can have a female avatar. I don't have to ask to be called a girl simply because people will assume it of me simply because that is what my behaviour suggests. I don't have to fear people rejecting me like I would in real life. The dissonance between the way I am and the way I want to be doesn't exist on the internet. Because the ability to identify as something you are not has become easier, more people have gone this route.

    But what they lack is the level of confidence and stability that people in this category traditionally had. For many, they will never take the time to resolve the conflicts in how they identify themselves. The result is intolerance. If someone causes them to doubt in themselves, they cut that person out of their life. They form elaborate rules about how they should be addressed, and consider those who don't take the time to understand as contributing to an environment of oppression. These people do not understand their part in the problem. They don't understand that they are attributing the inner turmoil they experience to the actions of other people when no such motive exists.

    It is frustrating to watch people do this, because I remember going through something similar in my early phases. When I first found myself wanting to be treated as a girl, I was a fragile little thing. I was already ashamed of myself. I had no idea how to cope with the difference between who I was and who I wanted to be. I sought out people who told me what I wanted to hear. I kept my cards close. I felt alone. I felt such a longing for people to understand the way that I was feeling when I myself did not understand.

    I think the critical difference that allowed me to grow past this, was that I didn't blame other people for my circumstances. I didn't blame people for not understanding. I knew how hard it was to understand. How could I blame a person for living a life that was more understandable or relatable than mine?

    And this brings me back to the starting point. The way people identify themselves says a lot about how they interact with the world about them. I wanted to think more critically about the nature of this interaction. Sadly this post ended up being more like a blog than a discussion, but I wanted to know what people thought on this topic.

    What do you have to add on the subject? Do you think I got something wrong or left something out? Would you enjoy an RP with the exploration of identity being the central theme? I want to know what everyone has to say!
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  2. Well, personally, I think you nailed the topic >.< though to be fair I'm posting on the go so I may not be able to give as thorough of a response as I'd like. As much as I have not had the need or want to change my identity, I can understand why those who want to do it, I suppose the line is just drawn with how tolerant people are in general of differences in opinion. To outcast someone for not completely conforming to ones views is a nono, but it is also probably not very good to well, hang around with those who are very intolerant of your own values, so I guess it's really up to one to find the right community that well, will accept you for who you are, but at the same time not take this to the level of well, forcing others to conform to this belief in a well, not so ideal way.

    Egh, I might get a more "full" post out once I get back from this vacation thing, but yeah.
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  3. Very interesting topic. Something very similar came up on another forum I'm on not too long ago. They touched on some different things in their opening post, so I'll just quote that here:
    Show Spoiler
    Something I see a lot in internet discussions is tension about what is and isn't appropriate to focus on when defining one's identity. For example, some people believe a lot of younger people today focus too much on things like sexuality and gender when defining their own identity. Some people think it's vapid or immature when someone puts forward "gamer" or some other hobby based label as a main defining point of their identity, while others think those that jump to offer political labels, like "democrat" or "conservative" are probably boring at best, or preachy, would-be demagogues at worst. I've seen people suggest defining yourself as a parent means you've given up your autonomy and are likely some Stepford robot. It seems many people have generally negative reactions when other people define themselves in a way that puts value first in a different part of their overall identity.

    Personally, I just think it's interesting to see how different people come to define themselves and what it says about them that they value certain aspects first. I notice people's identities often revolve around things differently depending on how they grew up. Things like race and sexuality aren't at all relatable as genuine parts of one's identity for people who've never had those aspects of their being made an issue, while those that have faced harsh discrimination are more likely to be very acutely aware and protective of those aspects. More social people tend to be more likely to define themselves by connections, while introverted people are more likely to define themselves by hobbies and favored media. I think the types of aspects you first think of to define your own identity tends to say as much about you as the actual aspects do.

    As a very socially oriented person, I define myself first by my relationships to the people I care about. These are the most important aspects of my life and the ones I dedicate the most energy to. This has also lead to my sexuality being fairly high on the list when I think of defining aspects of my own identity. Political and social views come in second. I have a lot of strongly held beliefs concerning various political issues. I work for a conservation organization. I've volunteered with LGBT groups since I was fourteen, over a decade now. I sometimes temporarily house rescue dogs and volunteer sometimes with a local reptile rescue. I regularly attend various protest events and rallies in my city. Social and environmental activism is a pretty big part of my life, so those beliefs are another aspect of my identity that I consider important.

    I place entertainment based interests further out in the fringes of my identity. They've just never been something I'm strongly invested in. These are things I indulge in when I'm bored, but that aren't important to me on a deeper level. Probably the only "label" for a relevant interest group that applies to me is "foodie", although I actually have literally never called myself that verbally before. I do love cooking and trying new restaurants, though. I've taken a lot of cooking classes on my free time and a substantial amount of my entertainment spending goes towards restaurants that most people would never justify the bill for. Second in entertainment is fashion. I buy a lot of clothes. It's a part of the reason I keep coming back to Gaia, along with having a place to talk about current events/social issues that isn't as much of an echo chamber as my social circle. I'm also interested in travel. I love seeing new places. This is something I'll mention if people ask my interests, but often just because I struggle to find an answer to that question. I generally find it harder to give a strong reply to what my "interests" are vs my "identity", because I associate interests mostly with entertainment, and people react weirdly when I tell them I don't really like any movies, TV shows or musicians enough to single out.

    Anything else entertainment wise, I'm just not invested enough in to consider it a part of my identity. I'm active, but don't really consider myself "an athlete". I like dancing and swimming, but not enough to consider it part of who I am. Sometimes I want to go dancing, sometimes I have the urge to get out in nature and go for a hike. It's not something I do especially often. I exercise every 1-3 days, but that's just for vanity's sake. I haven't played video games regularly in years. I don't watch TV or movies, and only really listen to music when someone else is playing it in the house.


    -When considering your personal identity, what sorts of aspects do you consider first: physical aspects, social connections, career, political beliefs/religion, entertainment interests, other?

    -Do you look down on others for placing certain aspects at the front of their identity? Any in the first paragraph, etc. To be clear, I don't mean "would you look down on someone identifying as a Nazi". I'm speaking in broad strokes here, not because you disagree with the details.

    -Are your answers substantially different if someone asks you to briefly outline your "identity" vs asking "what are some of your interests"?

    -How do you think your life experience has effected your identity? Has the way people treated aspects of your identity ever made those aspects more or less important to you?

    -Go ahead and explain how you define your identity, if you want.

    That topic focuses more on what someone will say when specifically asked what their identity is. Whereas your topic, if I'm following it correctly, is more about how an individual personally identifies and how that identity influences their interactions with others.

    With regard to your topic, I've gone through so many changes over my life, trying to "start over" and "re-invent" myself that I don't really have a personal identity much other than "Guy." If people ask or I feel compelled to label myself as something, I will pick whichever is most beneficial to the context or whichever looks better. For example, I believe somewhere on my profile here on Iwaku I mentioned I was a US Navy veteran. That's usually what I default to in identifying myself to others because it's the best looking thing I have in my varied life. It makes me look the best outwardly.

    But I could also "identify" as bisexual, a costumer, board gamer, hiker, and other things. It depends on the image I am trying to portray to other people. And in that, I am one of those people who constantly adapts to the environment. I could like X with one set of people and really prefer Y with a different set of people.

    Some look down on that and say people like me don't really have our own interests or own identity. Maybe they're right. I dunno.

    So I guess I could sum up this post with that I don't personally identify with much of anything and what I display my identity as is most often simply an image/facet of myself I'd like to portray/highlight to others. And that image differs based on the context of the situation.
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  4. [​IMG]

    Too easy. If you asked ten different philosophers who spent their lives studying human behaviour, you'll get ten different answers. Even Maslow's "Hierarchy Of Needs" has a pile of criticism on it, and I think of it as being largely true in most circumstances.

    Anyway, here's my thoughts on it, since you're askin' 'fer em'. Take it or leave it if you'd like.

    In terms of how we identify ourselves? We identify most strongly with whatever it is we feel the most emotionally invested in. When I was a teenager introducing myself to people I hadn't known yet, one of the first things I would bring up would be that I was an atheist. It never became a focus of obsession, but more just, something I felt strongly about. Something I cared for, so it was a prominent part of my world view, a prominent part of my self-identity. Nowadays? I might mention it in casual conversation should the topics of skepticism or religion come up, but, otherwise, it's not as strong a part of who I am as it used to be. I'm still firmly atheistic, but how strongly I feel about it has dwindled over the years, because it's become less a turning point of my life and more a mere part of a greater whole.

    It should also be noted that, save in the case of deluded fanatics, nobody is ever just one identity. Nobody is ever just "that feminist" or "that atheist" or whatever other topical identity you want to bring up today. I've known feminists who have also been gamers, or avid lovers of indie movies, or politically motivated anarchists, or so on. It's never one identity, never one thing, it's always a mix of things that comprise how you view the world, how you feel about issues, and thus, who you are.

    Yet, even in that, there's still two more things to consider about self-identity. There are parts of yourself you have no control over, no choice in, that you have to just accept about yourself. Your ethnicity, the sound of your voice, your physical sex, your sexuality, et cetera. Then, there are parts of yourself you have control over, that you have choice in. Whether or not you choose to believe in a God, whether you're left wing or right wing on your country's political spectrum, your positions on a myriad of political issues, et cetera.

    Then, there's how the rest of society looks at you, and how you act upon society. Your more visible identities--actions versus intentions. Your self-identity is almost always acting with the best of intentions, aside from the unloved and the unnatural, there is nobody who adopts an identity and thinks of themselves as evil. Whether through rigorous scientific and philosophical ends, or through an excess of egotism and self-righteousness, everyone thinks of themselves as the main protagonist of their own world. To a certain extent, any identity is founded upon at least some measure of assumption of correctness in the position. My atheism is a rejection of the existence of a God, but I cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there isn't one--thereby the assumption inherent in the position, like any other position.

    What defines who you are in the eyes of society isn't how you feel, it isn't what you think, it's what you do. Therefore it isn't your dreams that make you who you are in your external identities, it's the pain you feel and the obstacles you encounter, and what you do about it. A brave man isn't someone who feels no fear in the face of the unknown--we call those men unhinged lunatics. A brave man is someone who, in spite of knowing the consequences to their person, ultimately does the right thing, or acts in the face of a perceived danger and a gripping fear. A person who is scared of heights who, nonetheless, crosses a rickety bride several hundred feet above a gorge, is brave. A person who consistently acts against their fears, is brave. That becomes part of their identity when others look at them. "Well that person is brave."

    Take two people: Jimmy, and Jenny.
    • Jimmy hurts himself. He cannot get over his pain, he focuses and obsesses over the injustices in his life, and becomes a person consumed by self-pity. He reacts harshly to anyone who criticizes it and attacks them, thus isolating himself from anyone who could help him understand his life. This person is someone that is sad, and unlikable. Perhaps even pathetic dependent on the nature of the pain.
    • Jenny hurts herself. She struggles through it and ultimately refuses to pity herself, instead focusing on the better aspects of her life--working hard to overcome whatever damage she did to herself. Over time, she gets better, starts being able to laugh about it or speak of the event in a frank manner. Jenny is someone that is brave, and strong. Perhaps even heroic dependent on the nature of the pain.
    It could even be the same pain--maybe they both broke their leg because someone else accidentally tripped them down some stairs. How you handle pain, how you handle obstacles, what you do determines how others will view you. Because nobody can determine your intentions, so everyone will extrapolate of their own volition and apply to them to you. You will have detractors who will imply that you work hard because you're a workaholic, and others will praise you because you're an objective-seeker. You will have people who will call you forward thinking and rational because of your political stances, and others that will call you bigoted, or disgusting, or otherwise imply a negative intent to your beliefs, because they don't line up with their own intentions.

    This is why our justice system takes actions and attempts to create the most plausible story from them. It's also why it presumes innocence before guilt, unless the evidence to the contrary is damning.

    The truth is, you can group people together based on their beliefs, but this will almost never result in anything other than an oversimplification of an individual. Yes, it's true, I'm an atheist, but I don't take it as far as the late Christopher Hitchens, or Sam Harris. Grouping me up with those two will make me look like a fringe lunatic to the religious. :ferret: A collective group of people may share a similar set of beliefs, but how they act upon them--or if they act upon them at all--is never really measured from a collectivist standpoint.

    An identity is a personal, individual thing. Others can comment on it based on a person's actions, but they'll never truly know the intentions behind those actions. The only safe assumption to make is the majority of people view themselves in a positive light and try to assert changes on society that would better reflect their ideal of what the world should be.

    So, to summarize up to this point.
    • Identity is personal, and healthy people belong to multiple different groups that can be used to serve as part of their identity to a collective group. (Ex: Atheism, gaming, feminism, left wing, right wing, American, French, historian, nerd, et cetera.)
    • How others interpret an identity is based on actions, and the perceived intentions behind those actions--though nobody can truly know intent without the capacity for mind reading powers.
    • The thing which makes you unique is how you deal with pain and suffering, not your dreams or your emotions, which you share with many others.
    Now, to comment on two more things...
    Because self-pity is the ugliest of human emotions. It's the seductress that says that life isn't fair and everyone else is to blame and that you deserve respect. Why? Because you're a living person, of course, and everyone deserves respect. Except the people who don't deserve respect, who obviously are evil, and ignorant savages.

    It's a black and white world view. It's called fundamentalism. "If you're not with us, you're against us." It's an intrinsic enemy to skepticism and self-determinism, and takes many forms--like blind faith, or political correctness. Expunge the language of any words you don't like, or force others to treat you the way you wish to be treated. These individuals dive head first into a fantasy world, where everyone else is to blame for their problems, where their negative emotions are the fault of others. They don't understand that even if someone else intentionally goes out of their way to offend or hurt your feelings, that's a weakness on your part. It's not fair, but that's reality--one cannot hold everyone else accountable for their own emotions. Hell, it's a natural balance in the brain that you waver between happiness and sorrow--they're chemicals. You can literally OD and die off of most of these chemicals--like oxytocin or serotonin. So the brain cycles out excessive happiness, or excessive sorrow over time--assuming your brain is working the way it should, anyway. Sorrow is a natural part of life, so is pain, and offense, and frustration, and anger, and loneliness, and numerous other emotions. They're things you feel over time, but like with any other emotion, they come and go as time goes on and you grow as a person.

    One of the biggest issues with today's society, which you can blame on numerous factors like the abundance of escapism, the commercialization of the victim complex, et cetera, is that people have started to reject the concept of entire emotions as bad. That sorrow, or anger, or being offended is a bad thing, and that someone else has to be held accountable for making you feel these bad things. No longer is it simply part of life: It's now something to obsess over to an unhealthy extreme, and try to eradicate.

    I mean, really, look at most modern social movements* that promote censorship or which create echo chambers called "safe spaces." They keep finding new things to be offended by, because they want to avoid the entire concept of pain. All pain. Every inconvenience, every word they dislike, every viewpoint that offends them, they want to eliminate from existence. Then, with every success or failure, they still find new things to get angry about. Then they get angry that they're angry and blame their anger on the thing they're angry over that probably didn't even know they were there.

    It's a vicious cycle that is hard to break, and the worst part about fundamentalism is... If you try to tell the fundamentalist that they're wrong, they will zealously defend their position to an irrational extreme. Because anyone who is not with them, is the enemy. If you question their views, even with the best of intentions, they will apply the worst of intentions to you regardless. :ferret: So sadly, you can't break them out of it. They have to choose that for themselves.

    *Not every feminist or civil rights activist or whatever have you is like this. This is why I said earlier that "collective views of identity are oversimplifications" because individuals can't be boxed, filed, stamped, and numbered like this. You've got mature adults and cranky cunts in any conceivable group you can find, that's why freedom of association is considered a core right in most first world countries. Also, you can easily replace "feminist" with "atheist" and get similar results, or "modern social movements" with "organized religious groups." Modern social movements are just the most infamous and pertinent example right now.
    Every story that has ever featured a perceptible character has explored identity in one fashion or another. The basic idea of a character arc is a person growing into or out of an identity, or a person obtaining qualities that society pins on them based on their actions, or so on. If you've ever written a character who has a political view, or a religious view, or a sexuality, or really any belief in anything at all, and it's ever been brought up, you've explored the concept of self-identity.

    So, in a way, every RP that's ever existed has explored identity, at least as a character subplot.

    In terms of going beyond subplots, ah... Basically anything to do with a pertinent, real-world issue being made into the subject matter of a plot, is inevitably an exploration of identity. So if you made a story that was about, say, about an alien race arriving as refugees to a planet who then have to live day-to-day with racism, you would inevitably have an identity story. Since race--uncontrollable though it may be--is part of a person's physical identity. Where you get the difference between something that is preachy and stupid versus something that is enlightening and intelligent, is to take an identity study and humanize it. Assume that, all things being equal, each side of a debate has the best of intentions, with the exception of a couple assholes who stir the pot that you can call villains. Maybe people fear the new alien race because they don't know much about them, and want to put them in alien ghettos to keep their children safe from the unknown. Maybe some of the aliens bring a criminal streak with them and the victims try to defend the rest of society from a perceived threat that the majority of these aliens don't fit.

    A well written identity story can catch my eye, and I can enjoy it quite a bit. However, most don't end up that way. Most end up being preachy and stupid, and saying things that most everyone has learned by the time they reach first grade, like... "Racism is bad" or "punching people without reason is insane." Granted, put those messages in stuff directed towards children, and don't portray racism or punching people as a good thing, for obvious reasons... But, if you humanize people who hold otherwise negative views, and make their side of the story understandable and empathetic, that is far more interesting to me. Because then, no longer are you just preaching to stupid ignorant savages, but you're trying to navigate the complicated web of society with other people who are ideologically your opponents, but on a personal level, are generally good people. It presents shades of grey that are tough, and interesting, and make every interaction all the more flavourful. :ferret:

    Welp. That was long as shit. Haven't done something this long in a while. Thanks for putting up the topic, hopefully it stays nice. We'll see, @☆Luna☆.
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  5. I don't identify myself as anything. I just am me, as obscure as that is. If I absolutely had to identify myself, I'd probably just tell people that I'm a peace loving guy that enjoys writing, and hates drama. I joke around, I'm pensive and quiet but blunt and not a very social person.

    That's all I know of what I can identify indefinitely, otherwise I'm looking in the mirror to see my back once more.
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  6. 2. People define themselves by what they engage in presently

    This is pretty much it in my opinion. I don't define myself as much as most, I just go out and make things happen! I leave the definitions for others to come up with.

    And in today's world, not many have the desire or "longevity" in my life to learn much about what I was, will be or hope to be. So I am largely defined by what I am now, and what I do.
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  7. As time goes on I tend to think less and less of personal identity, I don't really find it to be all that important. I used fuss over quite a lot about my own identity. I wasn't always too sure who I was, and that was a huge deal for me. But then I realized that it didn't really matter who I saw myself to be. Who I am in my eyes is always gonna be different from who I am in the eyes of others, so I've since stopped trying to define myself and just let other people do it for me. In other words, I worry less about how I view myself and more so about how other people view me, and I do my best to take whatever actions I feel are necessary for them to view me as who I want them to view me as, if that makes any sense. I honestly don't think one could really have much an identity by themselves, because it's not your wants and desires that make you who are, it's what you do in the eyes of others that makes you who you are. Hell is other people and whatnot.
    #7 Hatsune Candy, Aug 21, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  8. Just leaving a note here since I've gotten a lot of lovely responses. I want to get back to everyone while the conversation is still fresh in everyone's minds, but I'm pretty busy. Just here to say that you all can expect a reply later.
  9. Well dang i rank low on all of em
  10. This was a really cool post to share. I agree that it isn't talking about quite the same thing, but there is a lot of places that it is pretty applicable. I think that it takes a more granular approach to discussing how people define themselves, and exposes how some of these things aren't necessarily a good thing to base your identity on.

    Moving onto the body of your post, I know what you mean by matching the situation. I don't actually think that engaging in this behavior says you don't have core traits you associate with yourself. Although you want to be different things to different people, I think I can safely assume that there are certain ways you will never be. Like for example, while you might want to exemplify your professional side at work and your climber side with your climbing buddies, you are never going to show a serial killer side simply because it is (hopefully) outside of the range of things you can identify with. I think that the very fact that you find yourself in the moment says more about the way you form identity.

    Thanks for sharing. I don't think this is an uncommon sentiment. I think that one of the problems of identity in the modern day is how people are talking about identity as membership to a collective of other people who are the same way. In reality, all of those characteristics you've listed are perfectly valid as an identity. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that the entire point of establishing an identity is for you to be a you. In essence, it is about understanding better what that means.

    Carpe diem!
    This was an interesting point. There are a lot of people who are so worried about defining themselves that they forget that the identity they establish for themselves does nothing to build a relationship with other people, and they forget how reality informs identity. After all, even if you think of yourself as a strong person, you don't really know until you compete with others. By ourselves, our ideas of identity are not particularly useful.

    However, I will rebut you on the idea that what we do in the eyes of others best defines who we actually are. We cannot use the views of other people as the basis of our own identity because those views are not something we understand on a level as fundamental and intimate as our own actions, history, motivations, and desires. Additionally, the views of other people are not stable enough. Unless you are picking just a few trusted persons to inform your identity, the crowds are far too fickle, judgmental, and distanced to base your self-image on. This behavior has ruined many high profile people as they flood themselves with the negativity of people who do not understand or care for them.

    I mentioned this in my response to Vardoger, but I think it is appropriate here too. The things that you wish to be to other people is a characteristic of identity. I mentioned it as one item people identify with. For example, my desire to be a good sister manifests in my actions towards my siblings. Identity in practice is not simply being your identity, but acting in a way that reflects that identity. If you think being prompt defines who you are, you will likely arrive early. Perhaps exactly which characteristics of yourself which you wish to exhibit at any given moment changes with context, but the very fact that you wish to identify with it, even briefly, says something about personal identity.


    You are next.

    Sorry for the delay in posting this. I've been the most insane kind of busy since the siblings got back to school. Hopefully it'll calm down once the first week starts up.
    #10 ☆Luna☆, Aug 26, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
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  11. Hmm.. Well perhaps I should have worded that better because the way I see it is not necessarily that who we are is defined by how others view us, but rather that for each person who knows us on a personal level, they have their own separate concept of who we are as individuals. My point being that creating an identity for ourselves is pointless if the people closest to us don't always agree. And I emphasize the words "closest to us" with great importance; I'd like to think that I'm not the only one to have had that one friend who knew me better than I knew myself.

    Now I will agree that who we are in the eyes of others could never accurately reflect our true selves, should such a thing exist, and it was never my intention to say that it did. I realize that is pretty much exactly what I said, but I didn't really mean it literally, rather what I meant was that who we are to those around us (i.e. friends and family) is the most important aspect of our personal identity. It simply does not matter who we imagine ourselves to be if not even the people closest to us see it that way. I believe that the best way to establish an identity for oneself is for one to take the actions necessary for others to view them as the very person they wish to be, only then will they have a chance of truly becoming that person. Basically, the version of ourselves that other people see us as may not be the true version of ourselves (again, should such a thing exist), but it's just so darn important to our everyday lives that it might as well be. Take that as you will.

    Edit: Another way to put it is that you can identify as whoever you want (within reason), but that identity is meaningless unless you make an active effort to convince those around you that who you say you are really is who you are.
    #11 Hatsune Candy, Aug 26, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
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  12. Honestly this is pretty much the way I think. I'm... Me. Many different things contribute into what I am but I can't think of a single thing that would define me completely.
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  13. *mentally prepares herself*, ok lets break this down into pieces.

    Yup, this is why I didn't call it an exhaustive list. This is just a few things I noticed that can account for a lot if you look at it broadly enough. It helps with opening up a subject as ephemeral as this to break it down into things you understand before trying to tackle it. I'm not in the competition for best explaining how individuals form identity.

    *nombs all over Brovo's thoughts*

    I agree. I think emotional investment has a lot to do with where we turn to establish identity. Though, I don't think it is always as straightforward as your example. People change overtime as the things that they are invested in get their priorities reestablished, but it isn't always something people will notice themselves. Sometimes this is as innocent as failure to notice, but occasionally because of a refusal to notice. Addiction is the first thing that comes to my mind in this regard. I think that categorizing this under the same group as everything else can cause problems. If you'd like to call that emotional investment you could, but I'd prefer to call that sort of behavior a dependency. These can also shape your identity.

    I think we are using the term identity differently. When I'm talking about identity, I'm already talking about a collection of things. In most cases, people have a single collection, but multiple facets. For exceptions please see secret agents, undercover cops, and people who suffer from multiple personality. And as you said, some of these facets are easier to change than others. Regardless of which it is, some form of resolution is ideal.

    I find this interesting, because generally I find myself to be the opposite. I've always taken a sort of comfort in understanding that I really don't understand anything at all. I find that it motivates me to try to understand even more. There is definitely many times where I find my ego getting in the way, but I tend to reject the protagonist position when I'm really thinking about it. I don't believe in what I believe because I think I understand, but instead because you can't challenge assumptions that you never form. That is why the scientific method has an entire step for establishing a hypothesis after all.

    I think this is something this thread has tackled in one form or another several times, but it is always nice to put a memorable quote with it. I totally agree. As obvious as it seems, people seem to forget so often how difficult it is to really understand what a person is thinking. And even if they are thinking it, it doesn't always mean it is true. I know that one way this tends to be true is in how people think they will behave in a crisis. There are a lot of people who genuinely think that they will be the level-headed ones who will save people, but when it comes down to it fail to act. It isn't that they weren't genuine enough in their belief that they could be the hero, it is just their internal thoughts didn't translate to external realities. This is why it is so important that people inform their identity with reality, and why I'm concerned people are basing their identity on aspects of themselves that have not been actualized.

    I drew attention to one particular point, since I think everything that you have to say is wrapped up in this idea that people sometimes use identity as belonging to a collective of people when its intended use is for establishing the individual. This usage is self-defeating because of the very forces you outlined. People see things from different perspectives. In the world of identity politics, if you say you are one thing, but appear to be another, you must be a wolf in sheep's clothing. They completely ignore how the differences between individuals causes them to be informed differently by the same aspect of their identity. They commit a no-true-Scotsman fallacy in the attempt to continue looking at their group as a collective. However, people operate individually. Pick down their beliefs enough, and eventually they will fall apart. This is a consequence of intolerance, the very thing they claim to be fighting. This is why the Jimmy's of the world are in such a tragic position.

    Doublethink at its finest. There is nothing to say here, you hit it square on the head.

    I've never really thought about it that way, but looking back that makes a lot of sense. The way they talk about offense, it is like it is the worst thing that you could ever feel. Like, people have always been upset by the way other people do things, but only now are they talking about them as personal attacks. Like, disagreement has become a form of assault. It really affects people like me who reject everything as a starting place and talks about things to make sense of them since they return my curiosity with bigotry. It is as if trying to learn why the narrative is true is some sort of forbidden knowledge to them. Something like, listen and believe.

    Yeah, but what I have in mind is something big enough to build a plot around. I want something where exploring identity gets to take center stage. And in my typical fashion, I believe reality is boring, so I've already came up with a basic concept to highlight what sort of story would exemplify identity in a way that wasn't forced. It mixes in a lot of my favorite concepts, so it is going to be a lot of fun for me to organize.

    Plot Teaser (open)

    It is a magical girl story with a twist. Recently, someone gave birth to the demigod of chaos, and his influence on the world around him has created huge problems. In the first ten years, the distortion to reality was so immense as to cause structural collapses, massive storms, monster sightings, major electric failures, crop failures, and really just everything you'd expect to happen when suddenly the rules the universe operates under start to fluctuate randomly. At first, many people took this to mean that the end of the world had arrived. But an unlikely hero came to their rescue, the demigod of chaos himself. With a group of 8 ten-year-old-girls, he led a siege against the influence of chaos, and restored order to the city of Tokyo. From there, he spread his message to the world that he intended to free them all from the influence.

    What success that could be attributed to this siege was into the girls' contract with the demigod of chaos to gain the power to attack the manifestations of chaos, which previously proved indestructible due to the fact that it did not interact traditionally with natural objects. However, this could hardly be considered a perfect success. Not only was the use of such young children a tactical blunder which cost the lives of all but one of the children, but even Midori, the one that lived, was unrecognizable by her parents. The influence of chaos causes people to change. Her once beautiful black hair had become bright red. She had been overweight by 15 pounds, but came out 5 pounds underweight. Even her recollection of her friends had changed. Midori was retired from her position, traumatized, and unable to find a place for herself amongst the family and friends she once was inseparable from. Due to this, the demigod no longer makes children the subject of a magic girl contract, insisting someone be at least 21 before an offer can be made. Although, they must undergo a transformation, as the only suitable body for withstanding the contract is a ten-year-old girl.

    The offer to become a magic girl and fight the chaos seems unattractive at first, but there were many strong reasons the original eight agreed to the conditions. However, the most universal reason was that magic girls get an initiation wish granted as part of the forming of the contract. With the powers of chaos at the demigod's command, he could grant many wishes, with only a few limitations. Thus, he still gets many requests from both girls and boys alike to enter into the contract. This RP covers the demigod's attempts to defeat his own influence, and the stories of the girl's who chose to fight alongside him.

    Major Themes (open)
    Identity is a major part of this RP, and it manifests in several unavoidable conflicts.

    First, the characters have to come to terms with the fact that they are working with the source of much misery in the world. The demigod of chaos is the only reason they are able to fight against the influence of chaos, but he is also the cause of the very problem they are trying to solve. The demigod occupies the role of the main antagonist and lead protagonist simultaneously, and how he is treated will vary wildly based on how people perceive his involvement in the cause. If nothing else, they will have to deal with how the people are trying to save treat him.

    Second, the characters draw power from their identity. In order to attack the enemy, them must use something that represents them. The stronger the symbol, the more powerful the attack. However, their identity is wildly dynamic, since their battles corrode aspects that make them who they are. Yet, even as they undergo these changes, their memories as a magic girl are protected. They can remember everything they've done, even if the things that once motivated them no longer have any power. If the characters are even a little bit social during the downtime, this should cause some major drama.

    Thirdly, the world actively judges them for their actions. The actions of magic girls are televised around the world, and are put through the filters of media. The reactions are multifaceted, but more often than not fail to reflect the complexity of their situation. While the girls are properly equipped to handle the fight against the chaos, they are merely children when it comes to handling the reality of what the world has become. However, their life is more than just a battlefield, so they will have to come to terms with this new reality.

    Fourthly, there will be death. Not just by fights with the chaos. The characters will be rooted in reality, and I expect at least a few of them won't be able to cope well with the madness of their situation. In addition, there are threats to their safety from the dystopian world around them. They will struggle with hunger, corruption, violence, and all the other real problems that result from living in a world like this. Their identity as a person living on this planet, and their part in making it better will be explored.

    Lastly, their very reason for fighting will constantly be under attack. The nature of fighting with the chaos means an inevitable divorce with the wish that was important enough to justify joining in the first place. Not only did they have to give up the person that they were before simply to become a magic girl, but they will change in even more dramatic ways as they continue to fight the chaos. Maintaining the will to keep fighting even as your character is transformed into a fundamentally different person will be an ever-present obstacle to the characters.

    While this is by no means an exclusive list, I think it does a good job of explaining the potential of this idea as a story whose central conflict is about identity.

    Anyway, I was really happy that having this discussion inspired such a cool idea within me. I hope that it lives up to your expectations of presenting a morally grey world where nobody really knows how best to respond. If one day I get a chance to run this RP, I hope that there would be interest, and that the answers the characters find end up being memorable. But, for right now I'll just leave it as a proof of concept.

    It really was. It took me forever to respond to it all, but gosh it is fun. I would reply to all the others, but it literally took all my brainpower just to get this far, so I'll save the rest for another date. Thanks for all the awesome insights, and I look forward to your reply. <3

    Also, I wrote this at like 11-12, so it is going to have errors. I'm just not in the mindset to write coherently. I did my best to clean it up, but I gave up.
    #13 ☆Luna☆, Aug 26, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
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