Within the reading, “The Complexity of Identity – ‘Who Am I?,’’’ the reality and the imagined begins to become clear as we approach this course material for the first time. The concept of identity is often viewed as how we see ourselves and what we believe we are. However, it is more multidimensional – it can better be defined as how we see our reflection in others within their culture.
This concept is heavily evident in society, once brought into light as the actual processor of identity. Examples of identity tags that are often reflected back to individuals are ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion. What is interestingly prominent (particularly in the U.S.) is that people tend to identify themselves most distinctly with tags that are part of a minority, or at a societal disadvantage. It is often more recognized as identification when people state that they are a non-white race, homosexual, a less common form of religion, or even female. White, protestant, heterosexual males often do not state the adjacent identifications because they are not heavily reflected back to them from society. The idea is that the “element of their identity is so taken for granted by them that it goes without comment… because it is taken for granted by the dominant culture.” Because these individuals do not protrude from the most commonly accepted demographics in particular societies, they do not consciously give this identification any attention.
Those that do stick out, however, encounter a different reflection circumstance, as others notice them as different from the norm. Members of minorities or uncommon existences in a certain culture often feel or are considered “subordinate or targeted.” The “mythical norm” is conjured from the demographic that is not so heavily examined or targeted: “white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, christian, and financially secure.” This concept creates some curious distortions in our reality, as it creates pockets of concentrated power that are trapped within the mythical norm, and weakens those that reside outside of these demographic pockets.
What is interesting is how this has affected politics and millennial identification in most recent years. An entire movement has been generated mostly revolving around the concept of identity. In today’s world, in order to have a political conversation about any sort of social issue, you must be one hundred percent aware of what you are identified as by the common person. The most recent distortion that I have personally encountered is that those who are part of the advantageous and common American demographic – myself included – are viewed as too naturally privileged in society to withstand any sort of hardship, especially in social situations. This is primarily a millennial concept, though it is intriguing how much of a twist this has brought to identity, which suppresses “advantageous” individuals because they are characteristically assumed by disadvantaged demographics to be “normal” and “privileged.”
Without the discussion becoming too political, it is a part of the human interactions in culture that has encountered an interesting twist in identity processes. The way that the mythical norm has affected society has created many subtle issues in culture today, and when looked at from this angle, it almost becomes contradicted.