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Who are you?

FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style?Registered User regular
edited July 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse
This is a genuine question, and one that I have asked the forums before. But I have gotten older and so have the forums, so I want to pose the question again.

Are you what you produce? (ie, your profession?) What if you get laid off, or just retire early? If you produce nothing, does that mean you're worthless as a human being? Are you a human being or a human doing? What if you are disabled, mentally or physically, and it is a struggle for you to simply be independent? Isn't that worth something?

Are you what you consume? We are here, on Penny-Arcade, by virtue of being geeks: by that I mean that 'geeks' consume geek culture - comic books, video games, role-playing games, etc. And I realized that I do somewhat define myself by what I consume; my music collection, my book collection, my movie collection, etc. are all reflections upon me. That is unsatisfying to me, in a Fight-Club-esque way. To paraphrase and conflate a few separate but related passages: you are not your sofa, you are not your bedspread, you are not your clever Ikea table.

Are you how you act? Action is determined by situation - in a different situation I might act differently.

What you say? Speech is a negotiation between speaker and audience - my speech is determined as much by who is listening as what I'm thinking.

What you think? Thought is a sandbox in which open possibilities reign. None of these things define me.

Some people define themselves by their group membership: black or white, Pinoy or Vietnamese, gay or straight, male or female, Catholic or Protestant, Democrat or Republican, Giants fan or Dodgers fan. Hell, in my town, some people define themselves by what neighborhood they live in (as if they think that I don't know that they jumped on the first reasonably-priced apartment that offered them a vacancy).

Thus I pose the question to each forumer: what defines you? If God, a space alien, your therapist, your one true love, or the hypothetical proxy of your choice, asked you, "Who are you?" What would you say?

In other words, who do you think you are?

And since it's been three years since I last asked this question of the forums: how do you think that self-identification has changed?

every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
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  • reVersereVerse Never odd or even Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    I'm me.

    On a more productive note:

    I am the sum of everything I've produced, consumed, said, thought, heard, done and experienced in my life.

    reVerse on
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    I'm a algorithm whose source code I do not possess, and whose underlying behavior I can only guess at by observing some of the things you have mentioned...

  • BobCescaBobCesca Registered User regular
    Um...difficult.

    I'm a cripple, a wife, a Classicist, a doctoral researcher, an academic, a geek, a nerd, a bibliophile, English, daughter, sister, posh, middle-class, a home owner, friend, gamer, a girl, a news-junkie, a PA forumer, and other things, I suppose (though I can't think of them at the moment).

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    ronya wrote:
    I'm a algorithm whose source code I do not possess, and whose underlying behavior I can only guess at by observing some of the things you have mentioned...

    I rather like this answer.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    edited July 2011
    I've always tried to define myself by what I'm not and by what I do not want to be. Looking at my dad, I don't want to be like him. Same with my grandpa. I've made it part of my identity to work towards not becoming like them. Then there are my bullies, who believed themselves to be the epitome of human supremacy and would mercilessly bully me for not displaying the same traits as them (hating foreigners, hating gays, wearing the latest fashion, only dancing when drunk, always acting as if you're just about to punch someone).

    Only a year or two ago did I start thinking about what I wanted to be instead. I've created borders of things I did not want to be, but that still leaves me with a lot of space of what I do want to define myself by. I guess it takes a lifetime to define yourself or come up with even a vague answer to "who are you", but so far I think being my own biggest critic and always trying to be the reliable one are the two traits I've honed the most so far. Of course I'm also a geographer, heritage specialist, gamer, MMO aficionado, papercrafter, son, tall, Dutch and small town boy, along some other stuff I probably forgot.

    (Ignoring my negative traits here, those aren't fun)

    Aldo on
    Elendil wrote: »
    said Aldo hazily, before clop-clop-clopping out of the room
  • Rhan9Rhan9 Registered User regular
    I am the intelligence and the personality as defined by my genetics, life experiences and living environments. The collection of transient feelings and motivations as shaped by life, in a state of constant change while forming a consistent, multi-faceted personality, which will mutate over time.

    Things like work, interests, etc. certainly affect this amalgamation of variables that shape what I am, but the whole is something more than the sum of its parts. There is the inner me, which is mutable, but more or less constant, and then the projected outer me, which changes depending on who or what I am interacting with, sometimes consciously, but more often than not subconsciously. All these perceptions, in addition to my own perception are what I am.

    steam_sig.png
  • EddyEddy pale Gengars I loved beside Cerulean CaveRegistered User regular
    Thus I pose the question to each forumer: what defines you? If God, a space alien, your therapist, your one true love, or the hypothetical proxy of your choice, asked you, "Who are you?" What would you say?

    Whoever you want me to be. [/The OC]

    I believe you are defined by action - you did say that in a different situation you might do things differently, but to me that is the whole point of it: to perform actions that are tremendously cloudy in a definitional sense, and by doing said unsexy actions day after day begin to shear great tufts of fluff and confusion away from that cloud, to eventually hone your existential proclivities. To do a different action in a different scenario - that in itself is defining as well.

    But who I am and what I am defined by seem to be different things. What defines me, is superficially the more socially relevant (and easier) question to ask.

    If I had to be pedantically philosophical to the interviewer, I would say who I am is a question of infinitely fleeting relevance. I'd throw out a Ship of Theseus reference, maybe. I know that physically, neurologically, emotionally, I change from one moment to the next. Memories are fluid, mental capacity known to ebb. If what my reality is is essentially meaningless and constantly in flux; a stable idea of what it is perceived as (what defines me?)must then supersede the question of who I merely am, for sake of convenience and epistemological dithering. So "Who are you?", for all my intents and purposes, would be interpreted by me as "What defines you?" as you suggested in the quoted section above.

    I guess you're also looking for an answer of that question too. My narcissistic side will gladly oblige.

    I'm 21 and American. I think that age and location gives a decent approximation of what to expect in terms of aspirations/material wealth/hobbies. I'm also a human being, with all of the complexities that entails. I think those three things define 99.99% of me, being human most of all.

  • iammattpleeveeiammattpleevee Registered User regular
    Feral wrote:
    This is a genuine question, and one that I have asked the forums before. But I have gotten older and so have the forums, so I want to pose the question again.


    Are you how you act?

    What you say?

    What you think?
    Are you what you produce? (ie, your profession?) What if you get laid off, or just retire early? If you produce nothing, does that mean you're worthless as a human being? Are you a human being or a human doing? What if you are disabled, mentally or physically, and it is a struggle for you to simply be independent? Isn't that worth something?

    Are you what you consume?

    To these two my opinion is; You are only defined by these as much as you let yourself be, or decide to be. If you are only interested in the things you consume or produce then I think you can say these things define you. From what I've experience of the world the people are much more dynamic than that.
    What you say?
    I don't believe what you say is a definite factor to who you are, I do believe though that it plays a large role in how people view though. Depending on how much others' opinions mean to you I think determines how much this question can be used to help define a person.
    Are you how you act?
    What was said above can be applied to this question but, I think how you act offers more personal satisfaction and insight than what you say. As in, deciding if your actions make you a good or bad person. That's something that others can influence but it's also something that you can decide for yourself.
    What you think?
    I think this question is what would describe a person most. Regardless of how you act, speak, consume, or produce your thoughts are what drive you towards any of those and what make you a person.



    When it comes to how I answer to all that. I'm not sure what to say when someone asks me who I am, besides to say me. I wouldn't expect a difference answer from anyone else. The human mind seems to be too complex, and thefore the persona of a person, to describe with any number of adjectives. Yeah you're a geek, a mom, a son, a daughter, a rocket scientist, a cook, a garbage man, but all these terms are to vague to really describe any person.

    SteamID iammattpleevee@aol.com
    Battle.net: Matt 3999 or iammattpleevee@gmail.com
    PSN?: iammattpleevee
    Spoiler:
  • EddyEddy pale Gengars I loved beside Cerulean CaveRegistered User regular
    alternatively:

    JUST A SMALL TOWN GIRL

    LIVIN IN A LONELY WOOOORLD

  • Caveman PawsCaveman Paws Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    
    

    Mother fuckin' Highwayman.

    Caveman Paws on
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    I'm a communist.

    TOG Solid wrote:
    If that guy wasn't white he would have gotten popped by so many tasers simultaneously that Marvel could use that as the new origin for Electro.
  • Rhesus PositiveRhesus Positive Damn these electric sex pants! Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Don't ask me, ask the people that know me - they're the ones whose opinions count.

    Alternatively: Spartacus.

    Rhesus Positive on
    Another successful post, thanks to the power of Spacestar Ordering™!
  • HaphazardHaphazard Registered User regular
    I am me. I am one of a kind. There are many more like me.

  • elkataselkatas Registered User regular
    Personality is pretty much construct, which is based on assumption "as if". It is only based on assumptions on how you will act in certain situations. In reality, you are far more than that, and your personality changes based on new experiences, new beliefs and and ideas you gain. You have created yourself specific roles, but even these are assumptions. In my own personal opinion, you really can't be yourself so long as you use roles, because if you are truly yourself, you can adjust to any situation and act accordingly.


    Hypnotically inclined.
  • MimMim Registered User regular
    Well, I know I'm not my mistakes. As for who I AM though, that's harder to define. My hobbies are what I do and enjoy, but they do not ultimately define who I am as a person. My actions would say I was a walking contradiction.

    alternatively: Your father. /Vader

    boobpoke.jpg
  • RaernRaern Registered User regular
    I am who I am. Not what I am, not where I am, not what I do. These are merely clues to a deeper puzzle.

    I am who I choose to be, I can change myself with no more than a thought.

    I am what I had to be, I never had a choice but to be this shape, think these thoughts, walk this path in front of me.

    I am unique, like paint on a canvas the parts are familiar, but their arrangement has never existed before and will never exist again.

    I am not defined by other minds, but through knowing other minds I come to define myself.


    And apparently I'm in a poetic mood.

  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    Just. Prudent. Temperate. Courageous.

    When I'm at my best anyway. I am my character, my collection of virtues and vices.

  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    Feral wrote:
    And since it's been three years since I last asked this question of the forums: how do you think that self-identification has changed?

    I use to define myself by what I'm into (generally, a nerd). But over the last few months I realize that I more of define myself by what I am not, in comparison to the people I choose to surround myself with. I take a lot of value in how I differ from everyone else, and have a lot of value in the times when I'm at odds with those I would consider friends or those I'm around daily. I don't seek being at odds, mind you, I just have a lot of conviction and don't feel the need to buckle just because I want to fit in. Which I do, but our differences in life should be something we all adjust to with each other.

    "Ultima Online Pre-Trammel is the perfect example of why libertarians are full of shit."
    - @Ludious
    PA Lets Play Archive - Twitter - Blog (6/15/14)
  • SixSix Registered User regular
    I'm a cowboy.

    On a steel horse I ride.

    XBL, PSN, & Steam: SixkillerNYC Twitter Flickr
  • ShanadeusShanadeus Registered User
    I'm a person who enjoys living because of how enjoyable it is.

  • SinWithSebastianSinWithSebastian Registered User regular
    I think in some ways I do define my 'self' through my work/career (physicist); being a natural scientist encourages one to approach at least professional problems and challenges with a certain mind set, and I've purposefully expanded that approach to most every other aspect of living. In a word, I try to be the 'intellectual' as understood by Levi. This includes spending a large segment of my spare time in scientific literature outside my field, favourite being history.

    I guess I see myself as a problem-solving machine? That's a bit too simplistic, and can't really apply to many situations such as social ones (you can't tackle the problem of mating and hanging out with one's buddies through the scientific method, IMO, pick-up-artists notwithstanding). I suppose a better definition would be that I'm someone who enjoys problems and solving them. The way this bleeds into my personal space is that I spend a lot of time finding dilemmas and thinking them over.

    This ignores large segments of the human experience, such as sex. I have what I'd consider a moderately active sex drive, and certainly enjoy it, but I suppose I don't see it as such an integral part of who I am as, for instance, some people I've encountered in the BDSM circles.

    I suppose I chose what aspects of my persona to cultivate based on my career choice. Similarly I can see others doing the same based on being a parent, through their hobby, being a 24/7 bottom, whatever. An interesting question is how people end up where they do, which is part of what this thread attempts to probe (?).

    Is 'me' the set of assumptions and guidelines that choose which action I'm to take in any given situation, or is it the aggregate sum of those choices and their consequences? A bit from column A, a bit from column B?

  • IgortIgort Registered User regular
    Don't ask me, ask the people that know me - they're the ones whose opinions count.

    But their opinions of you will only be reflections of themselves and what their own thoughts are, ultimately telling us more about them (what they like/don't like in other people, etc.) than about you.

    worldorder_zpse336707a.jpg
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    I live on Earth at present, and I don't know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.

    So your question is, in a sense, a category error.

    Also, I've been told repeatedly that I'm the whitest guy you know.

    tea-1.jpg
  • descdesc destroy all false poseur trend metal Registered User regular
    You definitely see a fair amount of "I am my abity to project intelligence" and "I am my cultivated tastes" on the forums. Something about disembodied communication on forums focused of new fresh consumption maybe?

    it's interesting how malleable Self is, as people are saying above. If you ask a Stanford prison question, you get a Stanford prison answer.

    Personally, I used to put a lot of weight on connoisseurship of whatever I was into at the moment -- all-over paintings and obtuse electronic music and things like that. I defined myself by what I loved, which I suppose is not the worst starting place. It's hard not to go rabble rabble consumerism as rarified pseudo-artform sometimes, but people can do worse than becoming very carefully calibrated tools to measure different excellences.

    I've never had a job I cared about, and increasingly I want to get back into art, but everything I do seems sub-par and thus insufficient as a foundation for "I am this action _____" which seems cool and dynamic and active to me, but I suppose is terribly boring to people who are known for some good or service and want to be known as patient souls or generous givers or kindly to kittens.

    Lately I am: the way my body moves when I walk attentively vs. inattentively, more integrated dancing, ease of laughter.

    Feral, I'm fascinated by how similar this question sounds to the ever-popular "What do you do?" yet how different it actually is.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    I am the terror that flaps in the night.

    But anyway, I'm just a pile of delicious meats responding to events as they come. Whoever I am today will cease to be by tomorrow as new information comes in. I have a core collection of incidents that are reflected in my current self and my future self, but those can all be overridden given enough events, particularly the one where the meats become the dirts.

    freefallagentad_zps635a83ed.png
  • GalahadGalahad Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    My fiancee's champion and cheerleader before anything else.

    An introvert and a daydreamer by nature. A scientist by training.

    Pan Narrans.

    Galahad on
  • HamurabiHamurabi Cambridge, MARegistered User regular
    Aldo wrote:
    I've always tried to define myself by what I'm not and by what I do not want to be.

    I would suggest not being defined by anti-.

  • Frosty the Snow PlowFrosty the Snow Plow Registered User regular
    I'm not sure the answer really matters. Who we think we are is largely a narrative. It's highly subjective and doused in protective self-deception.

  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    We are nothing. Just more members of our species propagating it along.
    The sense of self we experience is mostly a matter of culture, as in there are cultures that are more focused on the entire group before the individual is even considered.

    steam_sig.png
    NNID - bejamus | ESO - (at)guinneapig
  • descdesc destroy all false poseur trend metal Registered User regular
    I'm not sure the answer really matters. Who we think we are is largely a narrative. It's highly subjective and doused in protective self-deception.

    Who doesn't enjoy an engaging yarn?

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    I like that Anger Management clip a lot.

    Also, I don't ask this question because I think there's a single right way to answer, and I don't think that any incomplete answers are wrong simply because they're incomplete.

    I like seeing how this question is shaped by the person answering it. "I'm a game developer" vs "I'm a gamer" are both valid answers; "I'm a patient soul" or "I am kindly to kittens" are also valid answers. So were all of Adam Sandler's answers in that clip.
    desc wrote:
    Personally, I used to put a lot of weight on connoisseurship of whatever I was into at the moment -- all-over paintings and obtuse electronic music and things like that. I defined myself by what I loved, which I suppose is not the worst starting place. It's hard not to go rabble rabble consumerism as rarified pseudo-artform sometimes, but people can do worse than becoming very carefully calibrated tools to measure different excellences.

    I've never had a job I cared about, and increasingly I want to get back into art, but everything I do seems sub-par and thus insufficient as a foundation for "I am this action _____" which seems cool and dynamic and active to me, but I suppose is terribly boring to people who are known for some good or service and want to be known as patient souls or generous givers or kindly to kittens.

    Is this where I link one of those Cracked articles on how it takes 10,000 hours of doing something before you master it and say, "Well, once you've clocked 10,000 hours making art, you get to call yourself an artist?"

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • CaptainPeacockCaptainPeacock Registered User regular
    I was told that I was the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

    But I'm not sure I'm buying it.

    Cluck cluck, gibber gibber, my old man's a mushroom, etc.
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    I'm Batman
    ^ the goddamn

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
    It was either that or "I'm a black Scottish cyclops"

    sig.jpg
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