Thought: Who represents me? Am I correctly represented or am I misrepresented?
We are born like a clean slate. We don’t choose our parents, our DNA, our name, our language, our society, our colour, our family, the treatment we receive in first few years of our life, our life experience, the care we receive and the pains and pleasures that we get exposed to. Nonetheless these very factors become (or at least are attached to that eventually becomes) our core identify when it comes to identifying and defining us. I have intentionally excluded faith and religion from the above list as although this also gets attached with our identity quite earlier on in the course of our development, however there still remains some degree of choice when we can have some opportunity to review that label attached to us.
In a hypothetical situation and for sake of a thought experiment if I get rid of and remove all the given titles that I receive by birth then what will determine my identity? I don’t know the exact answer if one exists but on common sense whatever alternative I would choose or receive would be another set with some variation that will comprise of similar kind of factors. Again I shall be having no control on what the greater picture and backgrounds are that would be existing in the circumstances from thousands of years, if not millions.
By choice or by birth if I have received an identity then it’s on to me to explore that where it came from and what do I want to make of it. Personal identity and its development though relevant is not primarily my focus today. Today’s reflection is a bit different, it is that whatever identity I have , who represents me re that in the family, in the town, in the locality, in the region and in the world.
Who normally is my representative?
In the eyes of society my immediate environment, the society I live in, the colour, the language, the family and the race determine who I am. The society has its own norms and rituals in receiving me and brining me up and eventually determining who I should be in society’s opinion. The society start’s constructing my identity. My identity is further constructed by perceptions and impressions of those that have opinions and understandings about my identity i.e. the expectations and demands from other societies, groups and individuals. Once I have developed a personal identity then I come across the question that who would be my representative in the group or society that I am a part of? In normal flow of life if we don’t question anything, don’t think aloud and keep accepting things as they are, I don’t produce any problems and am informed that the answers are readily available. Your head of family in your representative, your local MP is your political representative, your local religious leader is your religious representative, you have at some level legal representative and your prime minister or president is your national representative. Leave the question that how these systems came into existence and how these social constructs were generated and how they have been agreed by majority. They are what they are and you are part of huge machinery that you don’t have any control upon. So better become a part of it.
Why the question arises if I am not correctly represented?
No matter how much I have been asked to be the part of the system and don’t question the social constructs and social representations, I can’t help asking the question who I am and who are those that are representing me? These questions under certain circumstances become more important, sometimes to the degree that ignoring them is neither appropriate nor possible. For example once the society asks me to own the one who has carried out a terrible act of cowardness and belonged to same racial or national group that I belong to. For example when someone of the group that I have similarities with gets killed in a hate attack and for example when questions are asked publically about what I am doing to control or question those that belong to the group I have similarities with. Sometimes I feel like apologising everybody who were harmed or affected in any way. I feel like saying that I have many apparent similarities with the one that has harmed or hurt someone today but let me tell you that the person who did that doesn’t represent me.
Would the expression that I am not represented correctly be accepted?
I might be a sceptic, a critic, a rebel, an indifferent or an opposition of the group or representative that apparently claims to be my presentation. Nonetheless in the established social construct I am nothing but a small individual in a huge number that may continue to differ from those that hold the banner of my representation but the society as a whole will continue to carry the same perception of mine and my group till the perception is not changed.
Personal identity, social constructionism and social representation collectively determine who an individual is, much different from what he or she thinks what they are. However it’s extremely difficult to change the perceptions that are attached with the stereotypes and those who at individual levels differ or differentiate with bigger societies and groups need to walk a very long pathway to change those stereotype perceptions and get them be replaced by some new ones of their personal choice for whatever reasons. This is a goal and dream needing a lot of effort and consistence.