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Entangled identities
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Author Topic: Entangled identities  (Read 2787 times)
Medivh
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« on: April 18, 2009, 05:13:09 EDT »

This is a bit off the wall, but please bear with me...

I've noticed that a lot of people who advocate for something seem to entangle their self-identity into that issue, such that even if it doesn't directly affect them, it becomes a part of who they are. This is best illustrated with an example, I think, so here we go:

There are a lot of autism activists out there. Many of them, typically autistics and their friends, are attempting to advocate for greater awareness of what autism is, what autistics do that is considered "different", and how "normals" can help autistics without doing much at all. Many more, typically parents of autistic children, advocate for research into the causes and, more importantly, the cures for autism.

I've noticed that of these groups, most if not all people advocating for something related to autism have entangled their identity into autism. For autistics, this is obvious; telling an autistic not to identify as such is like telling a quadriplegic to get up and walk. But parents of autistics typically entangle autism into their identities too. One guy in particular identifies himself as "Tanner's Dad". Tanner is an autistic child, and "Tanner's Dad" seems to have no internet-facing identity other than as a parent of an autistic child. Even though he doesn't deal with autism directly, he has taken the label of "autistic" and attempted to apply it to himself. Friends of autistics don't seem to do this to the same degree, but I've seen examples of them doing it too.

So after such a long and rambling start, I ask a simple question (with, I suspect, a non-simple answer): Why? Why do people attempt to entangle their identities with issues that don't directly affect them?
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And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
Ibian
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« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2009, 08:33:16 EDT »

Simple, actually. By making it personal, it becomes... well, personal. If they didnt feel it directly affected them, they would spend less time and effort on it and perhaps drop it completely at some point. Its just a way to make sure they keep at it.

I can think of 2 reasons for this, closely related ones. The first is fear. The fear that they will be seen as, and perhaps worse, feel that they are terrible people for not helping. Tanner's Dad and other people who are directly involved fit here.

The second is that certain types of people really like to have others thinking of them as good people, so they latch on to issues that make them appear as such. This mostly applies to people not closely related to or otherwise involved with people who have whatever problem they are fighting for.
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Heq
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2009, 00:41:41 EDT »

I also think it comes from the lack of identity in our culture(s).

Many people feel like they don't have a meaningful title and something like this gives them a title, and thus meaning.
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"No common man could believe such a thing, you'd have to be an intellectual to fall for anything as stupid as that."-Orwell
Medivh
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2009, 01:04:17 EDT »

Well this makes more sense. And if you apply the possibility of multiple online monikers such that a person can entangle one identity and still have others of their own, it makes more sense still.

Thanks guys.
Logged

And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
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