>There is an increasingly annoying misuse of the word Identity.
Now, as with most of my blog posts I am not setting myself up as an authority although some people tend to skip over caveats I nearly always pepper an opinionated post with and get hot under the collar because I state my case forcefully in an attempt to stimulate debate.
So…back to identity. There have been more than one reference to people assuming different or multiple identities in SL. NWN, in a terrible post recently gave space to some armchair psychologist talking about post modern thought. Now, the very phrase ‘post modern thought’ is enough to get me ranting, but my distaste of the sort of inane thinking that can lead to, as an example, Wagner James Au saying..”I’m a logical empiricist, scientific triumphalist mofo” will have to be the subject of another post.
This guy, Robert, talks in a video (which is cringe making) of the theory that “an individual may define themselves as any multiple number of identities”.
Now, my argument is NOT with Robert but with the continued misuse of the word Identity. We recently saw a show in SL which fell into the same trap, namely a misunderstanding of Identity as a concept.
[wikipedia: In philosophy, identity, from Latin: identitas (“sameness”), is the exact sameness of things. According to Leibniz’s law two things sharing every attribute are not only similar, but are the same thing. The concept of sameness has given rise to the general concept of identity, as in personal identity and social identity.]
Identity is, by definition, something you can only have one of.
[wikipedia…Personal continuity is an important part of identity; this is the process of ensuring that the quality of the mind are consistent from moment to the next, generally regarded to comprise qualities such as self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one’s environment.]
You cannot assume a different identity by putting on a different frock, or avatar. Your Identity (despite the misnamed “identity theft”) cannot be stolen, traded, changed, or swapped. You are you…even in a coma you have the same identity. Only on death will you cease to be you, although all your previous worldy actions, etc. will still continue to be accredited to the Identity that was you.
So…..Is it Personality? Can you say you assume a different, or multiple, personalities in avatar form. I personally think not. Your basic personality doesn’t change, if you are a nice person in RL, chances are that will shine through whatever avatar you wear….. and a fool will always be a fool, that we know for certain.
Aspects of your personality DO change when you wear different clothes/avatar, your basic personality doesn’t.
So…what of Role Play? Well, an actor doesn’t change his identity when he plays Hamlet, he may try to identify with that role, but he will have the same Identity and personality when the play finishes as he did at the start. He may have had insights into aspects of his psyche through doing so, as we do when assuming an avatar, or a role.
The clothes you wear, the avatars you wear, are a facade you present to the public, a manufactured You which is normally called a Persona.…now… personas we have many of. Daughter, wife, mother, employee, party goer, etc, etc. the list, for a healthy person is endless, we adapt to the situation and act in an appropriate manner.
..But….it’s alway Me. It’s never another identity, I don’t become Wizzy…ever….and should I change my name to Wizzy, that still doesn’t change my Identity or my personality.
Now, it could be said…’well, you know what I mean, why be so particular?’ but it’s only when you listen to someone like Robert that you understand how confused people can become when they are not precise in their use of concepts.
The things we discover through living life as avatars are aspects of our selves, we do not discover new selves or new identities.
Your Self and your Identity you are stuck with, and you only ever have one of each…. by definition.