Self-Identification Is Stupid – Opting Out

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identification, identity

“I identify as a libertarian.”

“I identify as a female.”

“I identify as a Brit.”

This vernacular of “identifying as …” has been absorbed into the daily speech of most in the West, and it’s nonsense. Here’s why:

The point of identification is for others to know who you are and what you can offer them. Someone who interacts with you needs to be able to distinguish you from others, and what it is that you do, and what relationship you have with the people they know. They want to know if they can trust you, whether they need to be on guard around you, or hopefully that there might be some mutually beneficial arrangement to be had if you keep them around. To assist with this, “identity” has emerged.

The most immediate and obvious form of identification that we use every day is our name. The given name probably has its biggest use in simply distinguishing between different people in your life, although in some cultures the given name has symbolic meaning that might indicate the family’s place in society. The surname probably came to be through the norm of distinguishing what a given person did, for example, James the Smithy became James Smith.

Now, notice that I don’t ever say “I identify as James.” If I did, I might get funny looks. It would be odd because my name is not my way of identifying myself. It’s for others to know who I am. That’s what people know me as. I don’t go by anything else because it would simply confuse everybody. My name just is. I am James.

Of course someone can change their name, but it’s done in an official capacity under usually serious conditions. You might insist on being called some variation of your name, for example, James and not Jim or Jamie. But how do people feel about you when you do that? Probably not warmness and appreciation. It’s a burden. They might oblige, but it makes them feel they’re treading carefully around you so as not to offend your delicate sensibilities.

Someone giving you a shortened version of your name, or a nickname, is a sign of endearment and puts a stamp on their unique relationship with you. You should cherish that. What’s more, you’ll enjoy life more, as I have done after I stopped caring when people called me “Jamie.”

If you see the logic in not “identifying” as your name, allow yourself the imagination to apply this idea to identifying as anything at all. This goes for your political views, sexual orientation, gender, culture, race, or anything else that modernity has spirited “identity” into.

Bottom line: People are going to identify you in ways that suit them, and there’s not much you can do about it. You can moan, but that will defeat the point, since what you are really asking for when you identify as anything is validation and acceptance. You’re not going to get that if you’re getting uppity about what people identify you as, because your identity is for others, not you.

Let’s look at political views: You can repeat “I identify as a libertarian” until the day Theresa May finally resigns, but it doesn’t matter if everyone around you doesn’t also agree with the definition. This may seem obvious, but you’ll struggle to find a single term that can not mean the opposite of what you intend. The entire “you’re not a real libertarian” dullness can be avoided if you simply get divorced from the word. Simply state what you believe as clearly as possible, and if the word becomes useful, use it. No single word is worth dying for.

Sexual identification is one of the more bizarre ones once you scrape beneath the surface. The whole business of “coming out” as gay may have made sense in a world where homosexuality was far less tolerated, and it might have been a sufficiently dramatic act to compel those around one to be more accepting.

These days it is largely irrelevant whether you are gay or not. Even those words, “are gay”, are difficult to make sense of. A large minority of “straight” people admit to have partaken in sexual activity with someone of their own sex, and the reverse is true with self-identified ”gay” people, who at some point in their lives may have had hetero sex. One might respond, “Well, if someone’s had gay sex, they’re gay, bro.” Okay, so what? Again, identification is for others – for whom does this identification help?

OK, so if you’re a man who’s mostly attracted to men, and you get asked out by a woman, it might be easy to just respond, “Sorry, I’m gay.” I get it, but that’s just out of convenience. How is that an identity for which you must bleed on behalf of an abstract social group called “gay men”?

The central absurdity of identifying yourself as anything is revealed through its more extreme examples from the woke crowd. They reckon you can identify as anything, from another gender to an animal, to an inanimate object. Moreover, the rest of society must be compelled to recognize it.

Now I’m going to go ridiculous with this one, but please bear with me, I’m being only partially facetious – there is a very serious point behind what might first appear like a Ben Shapiro blog post.

If Harry tells Phil that he identifies as a horse and wishes to be addressed by his proper pronouns, ‘Neigh/Nee,’ Phil may oblige. But this information doesn’t help Phil in any way. Remember what the point of identification is: It’s for others to know how to behave around you. Phil ‘knowing’ Harry is a horse doesn’t allow Phil to ride him, bet on him or to allow his children to feed him raw carrots. Moreover, if Phil took Harry to a jockey in expectation of selling him to race in the Grand National, he’s going to have a bad time.

The woke gangalang are sure to reply: “You’re not obligated to behave any differently around them, just leave them alone.” As it happens, that is exactly what Phil is trying to do. If the extent of Harry’s “identification” only reaches the edges of his consciousness and only affects him, then why does Phil have to address him by unique pronouns?

Anyway, the point of this isn’t to get into another tired rant against social justice nonsense. Avoid “identifying” as anything. You’ll be happier, you’ll feel freer, and people around you will like you more.

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James Smith

Writer and film-maker from the United Kingdom. Digital nomad. Author of 'The Shy Guy's Guide to Travelling'.