Noise Identity

Dealing with identity nowadays is deafening

We got many options for sure, that’s precisely the source of noise : the multiple choice and the stress about it. Take for example some of the effects of globalization on citizens: there’s a possibility to recognize more than 1 residency and more than 1 nationality, there’s a growing concern on gender identity due to a new progressive acknowledge of transgender issues, there’s new laws based upon our online identity, and the options goes on…

Social Media is just another set of masks in our big society vaudeville. Some could diversify their presence with the agonizing exposure, the tortured introspection, the soundless commentary or the participation inertia.

Just like everybody I’ve been walking the dead end street of internet identity with a suspicious look. Some of the people I’ve encountered in this journey are really interesting individuals but just from an isolated perspective, required by technology, algorithms or simple curiosity. The big discontent coming from the noise information is also in the shape of noise identity. Which one is the relevant member of society? the accountable tax payer on database? the ambiguous profile on a certain network? the name you obtain “googling”? the trolling comments about one aspect of your social media activity? all this is such a drag.

You could find many explorations about the identity topic on popular culture, I will use a personal selection as a reference, in particular a pair of films from 50 years ago.

Seconds (1966) by John Frankenheimer is about being able to reborn with a new identity. As You get into the plot of the movie You understand the urge for escaping a monotonous life thanks to an exclusive technology. In same way that’s the solution many technologies are offering nowadays, escape from your monotony, build your reputation, your identity, your new better self.

The main character in Seconds enjoys his new life plenty, away from stress, away from his old life until, gradually, he felt uncomfortable and start missing his old life. Then he decided to undo his new life or even start a new one with the help of the same disruptors who made the shift. His dreams are not fulfilled as he imagined or worse, he is trapped in another stereotypical existence pre-defined this time by technology. Unfortunately he cannot change what’s done and finally he is reduced to raw material for another reborn, for another life, for another dream, just like data stored in the cloud.

The same year a Japanese film The Face of Another by Hiroshi Teshigahara (based upon the book by Kobo Abe) is a different approach. The main character disfigured in an accident in some way is forced to make a new beginning. He takes his chance as an opportunity to explore the limits of freedom, with a new face.

He believes the soul resides in the skin, then maybe technology could help him with a mask. That customized mask is a tool, just like a social media profile, a way to interact in new terms. Nevertheless the double reflection of his individuality clashes with his sense of purpose, in the end his actions left him once again diving helpless into the sea of collective identity.

I highly recommend you both films.

Some people (like those in Seconds) keep on trying a new tool for renew their lives; others (like in The Face of Another) hope to explore a customized new identity with a freedom previously unknown.

There’s a unavoidable noise, a lot of noise, a loud roar in the way we socialize with technology that will end into a deaf mute isolation.