We live in an individualized separated society. We have ultimate freedom. We say yes to fluid identities. Mass-personalization.
Capitalism and consumption culture tells me that I can be exactly what I want and that I am in control of my own life. I have to create an “I” that is like no one else. To create my unique “I”, I have to separate myself from the rest of the world to not be a result of my environment. I am not a part of my environment, I am myself. Every one else can be whatever they want, because I am not responsible for them and they are not affecting my “self”. I don’t take anyone else in, because I don’t want to become a part of them. Everything is accepted.
To create my own “self/I”, I separate myself physically and mentally from other organisms and my environment. I act from the image of my “self” that I have created, rather than reacting in inter-dependence with my environment. I feel lonely because the “I” is not created out of physical experiences, but out of self-conscious mental choices. My artificial “I”, is a result of choosing among artificial means I am offered by society to build up my personality, and it makes me feel empty because it is not a result of physical contact.
I create my “I” in order to be a part of something, be seen, be accepted. “Society” tells me in an early age that I have to “be something”, that I have to be “myself”, that I can be “what I am” – which makes me extremely left alone in creating this self/I/something. “Society” then gives us the means with which we can create this I. We define ourselves by the way we look. By the way we smell. By the way we talk. By the way we walk. By the clothes we are wearing. We define ourselves by our gender, our sexuality and our style. We define ourselves by our political opinions. We define ourselves especially by our education and our results. We are rewarded in society based on our merit.
Consumption culture offers me the “cures” that will make me feel like I exist and are “something” even though I am not acknowledging my “self” as a part of my surrounding. It offers me education, goals and “the right way to success”. It offers me money as a door to “freedom”. It offers me pseudo-activity such as recycling and charity so I can feel better about my place in the world. It offers medical treatment, ritalin and prozac as an answer to my emptiness. It offers me drugs and many other addictions where I can lose control. It offers me a tinder-app and one night stands as an answer to my loneliness. It offers me a virtual reality where I can be acknowledged by millions of people who have never met me physically, and feel love theoretically but not in practice. It offers me buddhism and new age, which makes me be able to pay money to feel good and still be disconnected to everything that actually makes up what I am.
Consumption culture creates a global knowledge about how one should be. It create needs in order for me to buy their products. It forms my view of me as a woman and of a man.
If I don’t create this unique “I” separated from everyone else then I won’t be a part of the system and I won’t survive.
I am told that if I don’t define my identity, I am nothing, I won’t exist, and I won’t be seen or loved. I won’t be “happy”. The more I “make” this defined “self”, the further away from my real self I get. These false identities I adapt to are far from my physical and biological true needs. I am told to constantly be stronger, which makes me identify myself as weak and strive to create a “better” identity. We hold our real feelings and impulses inside to live up the identity we have created. We are told that we are never enough and therefore use “society’s” cures to be better.
This state of feeling weak and depressed is the most adaptable state, in that state we will do anything and change identity in order to be seen, successful, “happy”. When I think it is ok to have a fluid identity I think it is ok to constantly consume new things to create the renewed “self”. This state makes us the biggest consumer and the biggest producer.
To tell us “to be what we are”/”to be myself”, is an advertising campaign to make me define myself. It destroys everything that connects me to the world. It destroys everything in between, indefinite and indistinct. It does not allow boredom or passionless. It wants registered bodies and well-ordered space. It wants us to be in control of ourselves so they can be in control of us. They want us to constantly work and be passionate about work, success and the creation of the “self”. If we are bored we might take each other in physically, be attached and lose control. We might be more passionate and attached to what surrounds us, than our “selves”.
To fail, to be bored, to lose control shows us that the hypothesis of the “self” is beginning to crack. It is a way to break the expectations of the self and prove that it is only a hypothesis, it is false. Our inapt-ability and fatigue are problems from the point of view that wants to subjugate us. Then medicine and police is the only way to control us.
However a certain illness is good for “society” because then they can categorize our potential and productivity. They can make money by giving us the cure and making us addicted to the authority.
Existing. If no one knows I exist – do I exist? (Therefore the permanence of the self is something we have fallen for because if our identity is displayable – people will know I exist without having to co-exist with them).
To exist is to acknowledge that you are a reaction to your surrounding. To allow yourself to be a part of your surrounding. To say yes to inter-dependence. To acknowledge that there is no real defined self I can display on cue. There is no individually composed self. Our “self” is a shared living existence from which emerges with my environment.
Freedom. Today we live in ultimate freedom because we have the opportunity to do anything if we make the right choices and work hard. We live in freedom because we are in ultimate control over ourselves. My life is up to me and therefore if I do right I will have the freedom to do what I want. Which means if I create an identity, an “I”, that lives up to all the different social norms or even that is super radical, then I will be accepted, popular and seen and I will have money. That’s it.
We’re in constant control in order to maintain the defined made up “self”. To be in control and interact with organisms that are in control, makes us be able to follow the structure, of how to behave and how to define the world, that we already know.
Nothingness/boredom. We are afraid of silence, stillness and nothingness because that gives an opportunity for the surrounding to be a part of your being and then the hypothesis of the “self” will crack. Your “self” will change, but you are not in control of how. “A neurotic talk in order to not be seen and for a change not to happen”, as Zizek mentions.
If nothing is happening, I am seen and I cannot control how a person is taking me in. I give the person a change to change my reality and introduce the unknown. I am faced with my own fear of being someone, and my own self-consciousness, self-knowledge if I chose to not take the other person in. In stillness I give the chance for something to happen in co-existence with the person who sees me. I give them a chance to affect the way I carry myself or see myself. When nothing happens I don’t know what will happen next. When I don’t know what will happen next I am scared.
When I do nothing I leave a person with their own fear of being someone, of performing, of losing control. When we are doing nothing your made up self is talking to you, not me.
Falling. When you fall you involuntarily lose control over yourself. You fall in love, you open up and give your “self” to that person and allow your existence to be changed by that person’s existence. You allow yourself to be a result of your environment. You can choose to fall – drugs, orgasm etc. Zizek says falling in love is an traumatic experience because you lose control and let go of your hypothetical self and you end up in the unknown. It is in that unknown there is meaning, it is in that unkown a change will happen. We have to fall and lose control in order to see someone else and be inter-dependent with that person.
Your surrounding can also make you fall when you end up in a reality you have never defined before. When it is not following your expectations and you have to create a new definition. When new knowledge has been born.
Loss of control. When you lose control you allow yourself to live in co-existence, inter-dependence with your environment, individuals, organisms etc. Society don’t want to lose control, to get attached or to “fall madly in love”, as Zizek says it. Excessive pleasures is losing control, it is seen as foreign and disgusting until we learn how to do it with control. We are only allowed to lose control under the mask. If we have any ambiguous meanings, undefined meanings – that is losing control.
The fear of the unknown, the fear of what we cannot define. We define things to order it and understand it. Fear because we don’t know how to interact. Fear because we don’t know what to expect from ourselves. Fear because we don’t have control.
To interact truthfully we have to lose control and define something new. If we are co-existing together, we are undefined – when we are undefined we have a meaning.