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Identity for the Modern World

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"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone elses opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." -- Oscar Wilde

A few nights ago I saw a one man show about the life of Oscar Wilde, and while skeptical and having barely heard about this man before walking in, I left somehow different. I was moved, I had learned, I had been inspired. I had changed. A man previously unknown had made my mind reel, and I intend to discuss only one quote of many which has been swirling around in my brain. What you see is not necessarily an idea you have not heard before, yet the wording makes all the difference. I immediately thought, like so many others, what person am I? Whose opinions are mine, whose lives am I living? Whose passions have I stolen, what have I taken from others with nothing in return? It is not the need to be original that bothers me, for it is nearly impossible nowadays. It is the notion that not being original makes one a fleeting nothing, one who has already came to be, passed, and is no more. Who am I, but everyone else? Who I am is made up of everything I have learned and seen, most ideas derived from others, my personality a reflection of those around me. I always thought of myself as a collage, as a combination of everything that somehow ended up good, that the fact I was made up of all these things was good. Perhaps it is, and I do not think it is necessarily bad, but what kind of life is a life already lived? Why live as someone else? If you are, do you even really exist? Have you really ever lived? While comfort used to be found in being whoever I wanted, now it is only essential to be myself. My passions shall not be a quotation, my thoughts shall not belong to others and I will go forth and be whatever I wish, because it is now essential to actually existing. This leads directly to the philosophical aspect of this discussion, the philosophy of identity. Being an exceedingly deep and complicated subject, I will leave you to delve into it completely on your own and will instead discuss a few key points in this article. Generally speaking, identity is created through traits unique only to you and you alone. Without these traits, you have no identity. In the past I would have assumed that a combination of traits unique to oneself would constitute an identity, but without anything truly unique from you, then it is not really your identity, is it? It is a myriad of other identities masquerading as one special to you. Thus does anyone really have an identity anymore? With so many people before us, so many people around us now, can any of us really be anyone? While I wish I could act as myself, it seems increasingly doubtful that I, as myself, may even exist at all. Yet here I am, not sure what I am, but knowing I am here. As usual I end up taking comfort in what I have learned thus far of science, shocking as that may seem. Just when we thought we had discovered almost everything, more and more keeps being revealed. Though some questions are impossible to answer, and some beyond our means of comprehension, there is always more to science we have yet to understand, and it is clear the same goes for identity. While I do not see it now, perhaps everyone has something unique to them, or could for that matter, that has not yet been revealed. I mean, the fact I am here proves I exist. Maybe I am just missing the pieces in between.





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