Human nature is not stagnant. The ways in which we explore our environment, make choices, express ourselves and define our beliefs and what we feel strongly about is ever-changing. With each new year, constructing our identities takes on a new meaning, involving different choices and outlets than the year before. Thus, its not far fetched to say that constructing our identities has changed even more dramatically with the turn of each new century. That, in a sense, is what this blog post is all about. How would constructing my identity and defining myself be different if I was 18 in the years of 1705, 1805, 1905, and 2005?
In the year 1705, my options for constructing my identity would be far less than they are today. Essentially, I would be defined by what job I had, the wages I made, the house I lived in, and the amount of children I ended up with. I would be considered a good member of society as long as I made an honest living and could provide for my family if I had one. Beyond that, there isn’t much else that defined a man during that time period.
In the year 1805, I would have a slightly more options to construct my identity by. Mainly, whether I was educated or not. Around this time period, education started to become a necessity to further your position in society. This meant that, for most people, education was rare and unobtainable in some cases. But for those who could afford it, it allowed you to not only better your position in society but also your quality of life.
The year of 1905 brings about many of the same outlets for constructing one’s own identity as years past but does have one key exception. During this time period, the concepts of nationalism, imperialism, and patriotism were on the forefront of the minds of most Americans. Being 18 during this time would probably make me more impressionable and patriotic, which would become another part of my identity; more-so than in years past.
Finally, in the year 2005, the outlets for expression and construction have nearly doubled. Being 18 during this time would mean that I have a healthy respect for and knowledge of one of the most important inventions in human history: the Internet. Now, more than any other time period before, my ability to share what I like and what I don’t with other people around the world is easy. Literally, just the push of a button allows me to make parts and pieces of my personality known. In the modern age, it is those pieces of your personality that define who you are. Not the job you work or the amount of children to carry on your name. You are defined by things as trivial as your favorite movie.