Boston, Massachusetts, US
Reading the vessel statements gave me a more authentic slice of my classmates’ voices than I’ve ever gotten in my time at BLS. It was a much needed reminder to me that quieter classmates have loud identities. By loud I mean expressive, unapologetic, funny, sassy: whole. As a person who is louder, and basically acts the same around everyone, I can often forget that a lot of people shield parts of their identity, but are just as complex. For example, when I was reading a former elementary school’s statement and looking at her vessel, I was surprised at how similar our voices were. I knew we were both similar enough on the surface level - nerdy and musical - but the way we thought about the world and ourselves was eerily familiar. It’s odd to realize our thought processes aren’t completely unique and people all around us have had those same “aha” moments that come to define our self identity.
It’s very interesting to think about how forgetting that quieter people are just as expansive can lead to negative consequences. In “How Social Media Shapes Our Identity”, Nausicaa Renner tells the story of Ghyslain Raza, aka “Star Wars Kid” whose video of himself pretending to swing a lightsaber became viral. As he shares in a documentary clip, this created immense bullying at school, and since he wasn’t loud or confident enough to shrug nerding out as just one part of him, his identity - both inner and outer - became centered around this one clip. When people saw him they only saw that tiny slice of him, and he likely started seeing himself like this too. He became pinned to one moment, and that moment, thanks to the internet, was viewed, manipulated, and shared around the world. Lacking the voice to scream, he simply suffered.
In relation to our class, when looking at the vessels I started thinking about how with people I don’t really know, their online presence is often how I remember them. Reading the vessels of those folks gave me access to parts of their identity not online, and which took years of friendship with my close friends to learn. It made me wonder how differently I’d act towards people had I read similar projects at the start of BLS.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
LTQ T1W3: Personal Identity
Our individual identities are incredibly complex. There is no one way to define a human being, as while we grow and learn more about ourselves and the world, we find new ways to express what makes us, us.
Many people will find connections culturally, or through some bond to a racial, ethnic, religious or other group that they pertain to, as it allows for them to relate some of their own experiences to other people who have undergone similar ones. As I was viewing the other students’ identity vessels, I noticed this was a common theme. Some students had roots in the Caribbean, others in Vietnam, others still right here in the U.S. It is clear that background can be very meaningful to many different people.
An insight into how this identity aspect takes place in other groups of people is highlighted in The Complexity of Identity: Who Am I? by Beverly Daniel Tatum: “Common across these examples is that in the areas where a person is a member of the dominant or advantaged social group, the category is usually not mentioned. That element of their identity is so taken for granted by them that it goes without comment.”. According to Tatum, in contrast with those in minority groups, privileged people do not bring up their own race/sex/orientation etc. because society already revolves around those dominant cultures, and thus they are internalized.
Here I would like to suggest a slightly contrasting perspective. I believe that there is a social pressure associated with placing “white” for example, among one’s identity when shared with others, since it gives the sense that they might stand with the fact that they are white to such a degree that they believe that being white is a quality that sets them above other people; a behavior akin to white supremacy with which most people would not like to be associated. Perhaps it is a stretch, but that is how I see it. And while some of those people might not have more interesting qualities to bring up anyways, usually they do.
All of this stems from how we see ourselves with regards to the social norms of the time. Had, for example, white supremacy and oppression on behalf of white people never become a widespread phenomenon, such fear of association might never have existed and personal identity would likely be formed around the basis of personal experiences and interests, as it does for the privileged class already.
It is hard for me to speak for everyone when I talk about how “we see others” but I think it typically depends on the type of person and the situation that the observer finds themselves in. For example, if being in a physical space can be associated with an interest that is shared between the individual and the other(s), then perceptions may be swayed in a more positive light.
In conclusion, we should never judge a book by its cover. The more often we take the time to learn about a person or idea, the more effectively and justly we can consider their actions and/or principles.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
LTQ for Identity Vessel Project
Individual Identity and our social choices are both tightly connected and also capable of presenting differently. Social choices are made based on individual identity. In other words, the makeup of one’s inner characteristics and values is a driving force that impacts making decisions in society. However, many social choices are a reflection of a slightly separate identity of how someone wants to be seen by this society, as opposed to what makes up individual identity on the inside. “Who am I?” an article written by Beverly Danial Tatum, says, “The answer [to who I am] depends in large part on who the world around me says I am.” Since outward appearances and perception is such a big part of determining one’s identity, social choices are made not only based on individual or inward identity but also on making outward appearance favorable to how one wants to seem to the outside world.
During the Identity Vessel gallery walk, I learned a great variety about my classmates. For classmates I previously knew, I was able to make sense of their outward identities based on my own perceptions of their identity. For those that I was unfamiliar with, it was more surprising to see the difference between what goes into their inner and outer identities. A particular point of interest was that cultural identity has a place in both the inner and outer parts of the Identity Vessels. In Mark Snekvik’s statement, he talked about how people were fascinated over what to label him as ethnically because of his mixed Norwegian and Chinese background. He explained that stemming from this, the thought process of thinking people shouldn’t have such an obsession over race was part of his inner identity. Additionally, Max Deitch had one ethnic background as part of his outside identity and another on the inside. The Jewish aspect of his identity remained on the inside of his vessel because in general, people tended to label him as his other ethnicity because his appearance was more stereotypically similar to this ethnicity. Society’s need to label an ethnicity as part of thinking about a person is a topic that connects to the idea of Us vs. Them Ideology.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Identity Vessel Reflection
Identity is complex in so many different ways. So many different aspects of ourselves factor into our identity, including others’ perceptions of us, for better or worse. As social creatures, we can’t help but feel the need to change ourselves to please other people or change unknowingly depending on who we surround ourselves with. Some people help us grow and become better human beings, but others’ can turn us into the worst versions of ourselves. Regardless, it’s a natural thing when we change ourselves according to other people and their perceptions of us. It happens. For that reason, it proves how malleable our identities are. Identity is an ever changing thing, but society does in fact limit our ability to change and grow in our identities. When you’re in the same environment for a good chunk of your life, even as you age, because the people around you may perceive you a certain way, it can put you in a box. Since others’ perceptions affect how humans change and differ, it can stunt someones’ growth and change. No matter how much they change and grow, if people around them still perceive them the same way, it’s hard to feel any different and feel seen. They won’t feel like they’ve changed at all, or find themselves more cautious to try something new and different- even if they want to. Renner states in the article, “How Social Media Shapes Our Identity”, “such media can prevent those who wish to break with their past from doing so cleanly.” That’s why a lot of people, whether moving out of state for college or living abroad, changing their environment gives them a blank canvas to experiment and grow into a completely different person without the constrictions of previous perceptions of themselves. Since nobody knows them, the people they meet allow them to start fresh. Observing others’ identity vessels, I noticed that on the outside of the vessel, there were more “external” things that defined them. For example, more surface level things people would notice right off the bat, like what their race or ethnicity is. I remember seeing someone represent their Indian side on the outside of their vessel, but inside, they had a red envelope to represent their other half of being Chinese. Just because they didn’t “look” Chinese, people wouldn’t perceive them as being Chinese and that creates a conflict between the perception of other people vs yourself. It can make them feel disconnected, annoyed, or the need to prove themselves to feel connected to their Chinese part of their identity. It’s more something they have to tell people or people have to get to know them beyond surface level to know that part of their identity. In turn, inside of many peoples’ vessels would be things that really mattered to them: beliefs, people, etc. Internal things that defined them. Reading others’ reflections, it also made me want to include the point that it’s really important to be able to think for yourself and stick to your own beliefs regardless of the majority or social norms. That’s the point of being human. Being different from everyone else and having small things that make you who you are. Conforming and being like everyone else just creates duplicates of the same humans, losing that uniqueness of being human. We just become robots and shells of another person. Even though changing due to others’ is inevitable, it’s still important to maintain your own individuality and resist changing your own beliefs in order to go with the majority. However, that’s much easier said than done, especially in the society that we live in today with social media. This brings us to the big question: how are we able to consciously act accordingly to our values when perception plays such a big role in how we act?
boston, Massachusetts, US
Our identities are shaped and created by different factors in our lives, how we grew up, who we choose to surround ourselves with, key experiences, lessons we have learned, and plenty more. How we choose to respond to all of these factors also differs from person to person, some responses can be explained and others can not. Every single person has a different identity, everyone views themselves and the world around them in a different way than others do. For example, take the typical TV/movie twin dynamic. Identical twins are genetically the same person, but even in movies they are portrayed as complete opposites, one preppy and put together while the other is carefree and messy, although they were raised in the same environment and most likely given equal opportunities, they have drastically different identities. Looking through my peers’ Identity Vessels, I noticed similar things that were included between different vessels as many people can have things in common, even personal things. Although both persons A and B had pictures of friends and family on the inside of their vessels, the way they perceived their friends and family in their separate lives was different from each other. If five students had the same 4 items in their vessel, it does not mean the items have the same meaning for all of them. Some of the vessels also included that what is perceived of them from the outside would be accurate to them and who they are on the inside. In Beverly Daniel Tatum’s “The Complexity of Identity: ‘Who Am I?, a quote from Erik Erikson states that the parts of our identity that we do pick up on are the ones pointed out and perceived by others, a large factor of who we are is how other people view us. We have to be mindful of others’ views of us tainting how we see ourselves altogether, our identities are very malleable and we can often find ourselves conforming to other’s views so that we feel more comfortable in their perception of us.
Learn to Question Post 1: Personal Identity and Vessel Reflection
Our individual identities are shaped by so many variables that no two people can share one. Everyone has been through different experiences and has had different values, or they can have certain beliefs about how they need to uphold a certain part of their personality. Growing up in different environments and experiencing unique life events are what contribute to our individual identities, and a need to express a part of ourselves impacts what we do. As a post has mentioned earlier, because our identities are so malleable since we are affected by what we see and surround ourselves with, our identities are constantly changing. Renner writes, “New technology—especially the smartphone—allows us to produce a narrative of our lives, to choose what to remember and what to contribute to our own mythos.” (Renner 2) I saw examples of this where people put pictures of their Instagram onto their vessels. It shows how they want to be seen by others whether it’s their friends or someone that doesn’t know them at all. People only show what they want others to see them as, which builds an online persona that could be different from your personal identity. I noticed on someone’s personal identity vessel that they were a dancer, and I never knew this based on what I saw on social media. Similar views on this in other posts that state how we get confused with reality because of social media. It distorts our views on not only others but ourselves as well. I noticed that society today can limit our identities from growth and change through the internet. There is so much criticism circulating online and some people either don’t care or they care so much that they change their personalities based on it. And even after they decide to change their personalities, digital footprint is still a thing and their past always comes back. Renner writes, “Now that the Internet is more permanent, and more pervasive, it’s hard to avoid the relics of past identities.” It is quite hard to escape your past nowadays because of social media. This shows how we should be more expressive with our new identities, or else our past will keep getting brought up. That being said, while social media is a very beneficial thing for us it can also be destructive. All we see is what people want us to see, so, for example, it could make us feel bad about ourselves for not having a life as “eventful” as theirs, or not having up-to-par beauty standards. Indeed, we shouldn’t let things like this affect our identity but I think many can agree that it isn’t as easy to do.
Boston, Massachusettes, US
Learn to Question
I believe identities can be really malleable, but it would depend on the person and the subject. When all is said and done identity is something that you choose for yourself. You can choose how you identify and what parts of yourself are the most important to you. However, that’s not to say that what you choose can’t be influenced by society, it absolutely can. I believe that society, especially with social media, can heavily influence how we’re going to grow and develop. “How Social Media Shapes Identity” by Nausicaa Renner brought up the interesting point of a digital footprint: “The moratorium is a period of trial and error that society allows adolescents, who are permitted to take risks without fear of consequence, in hopes that doing so will clarify a “core self—a personal sense of what gives life meaning.” The Internet interrupts the privacy of this era; it tends to scale up mistakes to monumental proportions, and to put them on our permanent records. Colleges and employers now look at social-media accounts for evidence of character.” Growing up in a world with social media has rendered us unable to live freely. One mistake can still haunt you years later, which makes it hard to change your identity and grow as a person. However, social media can also be the very reason you change your identity. We have so much more access to information than the generations before us and it can be tiring but it also allows us to be educated. It gives us a place to find like-minded people that have been through the identity struggle as well. I saw so many of my peers use social media to help them with their identity vessels by using it to see how they were perceived, giving them inspiration for what to put on the outside of the box. So, I think that our identities are constantly changing and highly malleable, especially with social media and that isn’t always a bad thing
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Learn to Question: Personal Identity and Vessel Reflection
"The concept of identity is a complex one, shaped by individual characteristics, family dynamics, historical factors, and social and political contexts. Who am I?" (Tatum 1). Our identities are complex, they begin as soon as we are born, and are changed as we get older and older experiencing new things. Our identities are malleable, changing as we meet new people, and involve ourselves within different groups of people. When looking at the identity vessels of my peers, I realized although we are different, we are also the same. You could walk through the streets of your city looking at all these different faces not realizing that one of them shares experiences just like your own. I wasn’t surprised by any of the vessels. What surprised me more was how I could relate in some small way to each and every one of them I saw. Everyone’s identity was shaped by their family, or something that they like, or something that they experienced when growing up, and I feel the exact same way about mine. Society, now, enables us to change our identities. Although it may not seem like it, I feel like now, people are able to express themselves in so many different ways that may not have been possible before. Our social identities affect who the world sees us as, and the choices that we make. Our personal identity is something that we hold dear to ourselves; it is what we see ourselves as and what we want the world to see ourselves as (or something that we want to hide to the world). It is because of our identities, social or personal, that we are who we are today. Our identities make us, us.
Boston, Massachusettes, US
Identity Vessel Reflecton
Our identities can be affected by hundreds of varying factors, and are always changing. I feel that someone's identity can change dozens of times throughout their life because of family, friends, interests, environment, and other things. I noticed that what influenced my peers the most was their friends and family. During my walk around the Identity Vessels I noticed that everyone is deeper than the surface level. A quote from How Social Media Shapes Our Identity by Nausicaa Renner supports the idea that many things can be influential to our identity, “This practice can be hugely beneficial. New technology—especially the smartphone—allows us to produce a narrative of our lives, to choose what to remember and what to contribute to our own mythos.” Social media helps us create their identity in our mind and when reading accompanying statements, I was so surprised to read that Jadon B. was an activist who campaigned with parties like Obama and Sanders.
I would say in today’s time, it is a lot more acceptable to be who you know you are than 80-100 years ago. Society does limit our ability to change and grow in our identities but I think it mostly hinders our ability to express ourselves. A quote from our notes on 9/18/23 proves that, “Normative conformity results from wanting to appear ‘normal’ and a fear of peer rejection or punishment” People would rather be in the majority. I think it is important to be who you are and just surface level concepts won’t show that.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Identity Vessel Project Reflection
I think our individual identities are all very different but similar. That is a very contradictory statement but of course our identities are all different because we have all had different experiences and we are all different people but there are many similar aspects. For example There were a lot of music references in many of the vessels that I looked at but it was presented in different ways. One person that used a shoebox as a vessel, created a whole shrine to the music that they love and put it inside because they considered it a major part of their identity. Another person just made their vessel a Taylor Swift vinyl because they love Taylor Swift and really connect with her. Both these people consider music a part of their identity but presented it in completely different ways. This aspect of music also presents the idea that our identities are very malleable. Music is something that is very influential and can shape a person's identity, as shown by many vessels. If that one person never had listened to Taylor Swift they would probably be a very different person. Our experiences as we grow shape the people we are and that's why everyone is so different. I think our identities are ever changing because as humans we experience so much change in our life that affects us. With that change we usually come out as different people and learn from our experiences. The people we know now could have been completely different years before or might be completely different years later. Our environment is a major factor of who we are and it can really change how you view yourself and the world. It is just natural for people to change because if we all stayed the same then there would be no personal growth and we could never learn from our past. A human body is meant to change based on its environment so it only makes sense if our personalities change with it. People don’t realize how much one interaction or one day could change you. As humans we are very social creatures so being around people is like a necessity. The people you associate yourself with can change who you are and technically you would sometimes change just to fit in. So that change could be purposeful but it could also be forced on you through societal pressures like a trend or peer pressure. If you have a more negative personality you could tend to say more negative things and be around people that feel the same way as you. But if you are a more positive person you could see the world in a completely different way and make different social choices that fit you. Every aspect of one’s personality can dictate the choices you make because in the end choices are the true reflection of who you are. Our personal and social identities are different because people tend to present themselves in a better way than they feel. I noticed in a lot of people’s vessels the inside of how they view their identity was most commonly negative and compared to the identity that other people saw it was very positive. I noticed that people tend to view themselves in a more negative light and tend to focus on their flaws rather than what's good about them. What I found crazy was how opposing the opinions were from oneself and from other people. Others usually saw everything good about a person and gave positive feedback while a person would feel something completely opposite about themself. I saw a lot of people talking about this in their reflection because they also noticed how different their social and personal identities were.