A friend of mine has lived in Beijing for over a decade now. He has a story that goes something like this:
He had a career in China and was doing a certain thing. He then switched from that career to being a musician. A massive departure, but he did it. After becoming a musician he found that he mostly worked at night and thought it might be nice to get another degree.
Party officials called him in, "I see here you're trying to go to college."
"But you are not a student."
"Well, I would be if I were in university."
"But you are not a student, you are a musician."
My friend was silent.
"We know you are a musician."
So he did not go to University in Beijing. His insight was that in China people had a title, and that was what they were. This is why, when you meet high ranking party officials, they always have a lot of titles. Only special people can have more than one title. You cannot be a multifaceted prole.
But this is not unique to totalitarian regimes. We do this to each other all the time. If I say I'm pro-choice, I get labeled as a screaming liberal. If I say I'm in favor of a flat tax, I'm a right wing nut job. If I say I'm both, people's brains leak out of their ears and they get mad at me. "You made my brains leak!"
In our on-going conversation, Trish said:
This is what I meant as person vs. personna. a blog can never contain the totality of an individual. Case in point: I have kept my theological background out of my profile up until today. I have, up to this point, felt it a detriment because, let's face it, theology ain't the hippest subject to have a background in...and I get tired of telling people that I'm not The Church Lady finding Satan under every bad haircut. (Then again, maybe they can figure that out from the hat.) ((J note .. I included picture to provide hat context)).
Indeed, and I try not to say anything overtly political here. This is because everything does happen in context. Our identities happen in context. Perhaps we have a variety of identities ... that are specific to the contexts in which they happen. We have some core values that we won't violate and we do maintain our individuality in each location. But unnecessary information derails conversations.
She later says:
It makes me wonder though when the whole conversation about community (globally speaking here) in the blogosphere, and finding like minds in the blogosphere via refined metrics, got boiled down to who's doing the advertising and the need for ethical advertising? When does the concept of "community" become predominately associated with consumerism rather than with making it easier to find others conversing--not pontificating--about topics of personal interest not connected to the latest and greates in entertainment and politics.
Maybe it's just the unhip theologian in me that has trouble with being reduced to a marketing cohort before I can find community.
Nicely put. And a good place where this conversation shows its relevance to linklove and identity. In order to find communities, we need to be able to recognize some community indicators that are meaningful to us. We need to be able to find on-going conversations and communities that we can add to, be informed by and participate in.
We don't want to merely be fodder for banal advertising executives who look on us as consumer buckets into which they can pour their prattle. But we do want to be visible enough to attract more thought-mates. People with whom we can converse and grow and debate.
The linklove desire is to see what tools we can bring to the table that can search out community indicators and discard the adverblogs.