Digital Beard Stroking: Identify Yourself!

Identity is one of those complicated and infinitely nuanced concepts that we take for granted in our society.  For the most part, we drift through our lives without a thought to how we are appearing to people.  We are also constantly automatically identifying and categorizing people, equally unintentionally.  Our entire culture is built upon these identities and the building blocks of them, despite our lack of conscious consideration of them.  One of the most prominent areas (Especially in terms of presentation) is our dress.


Wear this to a Target store and tell me how that works for you.

What we wear projects an image about us in a myriad of ways.  Things like uniforms are dead giveaways, but subtler things can be just as powerful in our ability to pigeonhole each other.  There are entire hierarchies of handbag brands that I cannot even begin to comprehend (is…is Coach good?  no?  Wait, is that true or are you just jelly?  No, I’m not basic, I’m rather acidic, probably.  Hey, where are you going?  I have so many questions!).  Couple that with the confusing world of wristwatches (which, again, I only really care if they’re smart watches and even then, I don’t really care).  These are tokens of identity. Conspicuous items to denote class.  These project an air of sophistication and identify yourself as among the watch-wearing class of people.  If your watch has a calculator in it, then you’re projecting a completely different image.  Likewise with every garment we own and wear.  Stylish jacket?  You’re trying to keep up with the times.  Thrift Shop jacket?  probably a hipster.  Expensive leather shoes, comfortable hiking shoes, cargo pants, fitted suit, etc. etc.  The complex narrative that you’re weaving with your clothing choices alone can be staggering.


Don’t think about it, Morty!

Now, that’s just which of the broad choices we’ve made.  There’s a whole other level of differentiating yourself from that narrative you were just weaving.  We have to maintain this fine balance of proclaiming our class, industry, clan, tribe, whatever vs standing out as an individual.  To make matters worse, there seems to be an existing system of rules for where and how we can express our individuality.  A full business suit with a spiked mohawk doesn’t quite fly in a corporate setting.  A punk rock watch, discretely hiding under your sleeve? Totally fine.  Likewise, if you’re at a metal concert, you’re likely to be a little bit TOO conspicuous if you opt for a day glow bellbottom jumpsuit covered in rhinestones.  Probably a unique array of facial piercings or a particularly vintage band shirt is a more appropriate identifier.


Sascha Lobo, a blogger. He’s either proving me right or wrong, I can’t decide.

For me, the part of this that is most interesting is how we all seem to be able to navigate this complex and inconsistent game with only minor mental breakdowns.  It says something about society that radical violations of these little social contracts are so few and far between. About the only time it gets to be a serious problem is when vastly different social groups intersect, but that can end surprisingly well.  Consider the convention scene, where all kinds of different groups from different socio-economic strata can all meet to not only interact in the shared medium of their personal fandom, but also interact, peacefully, with utterly unrelated fandoms.  When given half a chance, people will actually actively seek to join together and find things in common in these scenarios, rather than getting caught up on whatever social faux pas or transgression of the social norm an individual is guilty of.  It turns out that we can, indeed, all just get along.


Hey, maybe there’s hope yet for the geeks inheriting the Earth?

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