Understanding is very closely tied to uncertainty, and as mentioned in the previous post (see Paradox of Understanding) based on a person’s willingness to confront uncertainty, they will generally come to different explanations for raw experiences, these different explanations then form a solid basis for a person’s character.
The Truth, however, can never be explained because the raw experience itself is the Truth, or oftentimes, we don’t have the raw information to even form the basis for an explanation.
In other words, you can’t mitigate uncertainty with explanations (certainty) without it being a false certainty. There’s a degree of how false the explanation is, varying to different degrees, but in the end, it’s false, but this is still in important process for humans to partake in, it’s very human want to mitigate uncertainty… and that is why we have identities.
One of the difficulties of being human is having the capability to decide what one becomes, identity is not given, it is formed and chosen. But what is identity?
An identity is a constraint on a person’s behavior, it’s a limiter: if I’m a coder, I code and not other things. If I’m a teacher, I teach and not other things. Not to say that a person is as simple as one label and only does one thing, but a set of finite labels (some that activitate in specific scenarios, others that deactivate in other scenarios, and some that apply in all) that translate to behaviors, actions is roughly what an identity is, and it is a central component to living… why?
Take for example a 22 year old male who has never left his room for the entirety of his life, he doesn’t know what society is like (and therefore doesn’t know social rules), doesn’t know what people are like (and therefore doesn’t know interaction rules), and since he’s only been in his room (doing nothing, just eating, sleeping, drinking), he also has very little idea of what to do in the world. As soon as this person enters the real world and leaves his room, his mind is going to be bombarded with million different sources of stimuli, scenarios, interactions with people, and he’ll have to try to understand what he’s supposed to do. Sometimes when he stares at a person, they give him a mean face. Other times when he stares, they give him a smile. What does it all mean?
The idea here is that in any given situation or interaction, this person has an infinite number of possibilities for ways to act, and this infinity creates a lot of uncertainty within him. Feeling uncertainty is very unpleasant, and seeing other people being uncertain (because of your own inability to explain other’s behaviors (which is obviously also worsened by higher levels of erratic behaviors)) is very unnerving.
Decreasing unpredictability in ourselves and others is what a solid identity should do then… but oftentimes it happens that identities don’t form correctly from youth to adulthood. What happens then?
Let’s take a relatively average 18 year old girl and throw her on Tinder. Being 18, she’s still very much trying to “find herself”, nothing wrong there, god speed, but please note; she’s average looking.
So this girl lands in Dick Ocean (Tinder) and all of a sudden gets matches… lots and lots of matches… attention, so much more attention than she’s ever had in high school (because she’s just average…) and that attention feels good.
Let’s fast forward a few years, there is only a binary here… she’s either still on Tinder (this includes periodically leaving it and coming back to it), or she’s left it. If she’s left it, good, she’s probably taking a more self-reflective approach and choosing an identity that isn’t dependent on male validation. Given all the different identities in the world, a dependency on anyone else doing or saying anything is not an identity, it’s a prolonging of not choosing an identity and therefore a crutch in being unable to decide for oneself what is self.
Why is that the case? Because if we go back to our definition of identity, its purpose, its goal, is to take an infinite number of possible actions a person can take and reduce it down to a finite set and eventually a single action or way of behaving at a specific time and specific scenario. Over the course of a person’s life, then in similar scenarios we should be able to predict that this person will act roughly in the same manner.
This is not the case for validation seeking because validation seeking is not a consistent action. To get validation from different people inherently means that the behaviors of the person has to change in order to “meet the demands” of validation that the appropriate person will give. In other words, this person is unpredictable… and identity is again, meant to give yourself and others predictability, ergo: validation seeking = no identity.
But unfortunately, and is often the case now, this girl will probably end up staying on Tinder… at the age of 18 it’s hard to reason differently than this: My parents make me feel like shit, but they’re supposed to be good people… and these dicks make me feel good, but people tell me they aren’t great… but if they make me feel good, they can’t be so bad afterall…
The unfortunate end is that society is filled with people that have no basis for an identity, are chaos, and in essence can’t exist without someone else telling them they exist.
Next Post: Past Understanding