12 June 2015

Identities: Are We Actually Unique?

A finger print will tell you that we are all unique. But on 12th March 2012, the population of the world broke seven billion and it’s continuing to rise. This is unreservedly down to technology and our increasing scientific knowledge that helps us have greater life expectancies, cures disease and kills bacteria. People are living longer, we prevent disease, we cure disease and we have ultimately made our world much safer. Therefore, as the population of the earth rises, we as individuals are having less of an impact on the world and our identities are becoming insignificant.

What does it mean to have an identity? According to the Oxford English Dictionary an identity is “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.” That means many people can have the same identity. If your identity is somebody that enjoys music and likes to go to concerts, you will naturally share that identity with millions of others as music is a universally generic interest. Because there are so many of us now, more people have the same interests and they shrink the pool of individuality on a global scale.

We like to think that our birthdays are our special days. They mean something to us personally and they also define who we are. However, everyday there are over nineteen million birthdays. You share your birthday with nineteen million other people and yet it’s still your special day. Granted that it is your day in amongst your friends and family as they probably don’t know anyone else with the same birthday. We now live in an instantly connective world where anyone can be contacted within seconds meaning, we know when it’s someone’s birthday due to Facebook notifications, Tweets or Instagram posts. Try and deny that it always seems to be someone’s birthday on Facebook.

The way that one dresses does impact on one’s identity. However, if you walk into any high street store and buy a printed tee, you won’t be the only one that owns that t-shirt. Thousands of others will also own that very same t-shirt and might wear it to the same place as you. The same goes for anything, shoes, jeans, hoodies, coats. Why do people ‘accessorise’? To dress differently and create their own look that gives them an identity. The same can be said for people that make their own clothes. Nobody else will have the same dress that they make so it makes them unique. 

“Nonconformity, right. I can't remember the last time I saw a twenty-something kid with a tattoo of an Asian letter on his wrist. You are one wicked free thinker. You want to be a rebel? Stop being cool. Wear a pocket protector like he does and get a haircut. Like the Asian kids who don't leave the library for 20 hours stretches, they're the ones who don't care what you think.”  - Dr. Gregory House 

We naturally all like to think we’re different or unique but the truth is, we’re not. Having a personal identity exists but only to one’s self, one’s family and one’s friends. The exception being celebrities. The majority of celebrities, and I generally include politicians, dignitaries and sports stars in this, have personal identities that the world knows and knows them for. Trouble then arises as most of us will and do, whether consciously or subconsciously, copy celebrities. Be it their clothes, their personalities, their interests or even their talents. 

Other than being a celebrity, can you have your own unique personal identity? The problem is, having hobbies and interests that are different still isn't a unique thing as there will still be others around the world that do what you do. There are others that dress the way you dress or look the way you look. The only way to have your own identity is through fame and this is probably why we have become obsessed by chasing fame and wanting to be famous. We want our own identities as much as we want our own freedom.  

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