Perturbing Identities

Keeping Your Identity Small is an attempt to not affiliate with labels (such as “minimalist”, “intelligent”, “INTP”, or “advocator for some cause X”), and as a result gain access to more ideas/perspectives. The identity of the scientist in this respect isn’t so much a label as it is “marking the space as empty”; to be filled as a result of evidence, adding nothing more: “its at its best when nothing more can be taken away.” (Antoine de Saint-Exuperty)

However, longitudinal social systems inherently evolve towards stable states at local minima, which requires intentional energy to perturb. Therefor, an individual in this system has to rebel against the social pressures that subconsciously congeal identity[1]. What you would gain from this is an “empty space” that is useful for experiments, expression, and (ideally) an evolutionary path towards a more optimal state.

I feel vulnerability creates the largest resistance to this perturbation. Subconscious simulations that people create to understand others resists change insofar as the functionality of this simulation requires a simplification of reality. In this space, change is inherently complex because it is not what it was. As a result, there is judgement, and its how that judgement is interpreted that I feel is non-trivial: guilt is judgement of a thing a person has done, while shame is judgement on the nature of a person. The latter is unhealthy. I feel like experimenting with identity walks a line between these two.

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” -Walt Whitman

A minimal identity: one that exists only to minimize cognitive dissonance [2]

Small identity instabilities: Insufficiently ‘trained’ identities could have unforeseen ramifications in certain contexts.


[1] This ‘rebellion’ should have the purpose of helping the individuals involved in the longer run, even if at the cost of initial discomfort.

[2] cognitive dissonance is “the feeling that arises when we perceive a disjunction between our beliefs and our behaviors. Most of us feel a strong need for self-consistency, for our behaviors to match up with our stated beliefs. When they don’t — when our beliefs seem out of line with our behaviors — we’ll often respond in irrational ways” (Nick Cooney).

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