So what is it that makes us who we are? Well, according to my mum and her’s before that it is your choice of friends. “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are” is almost a family motto now. Other’s choose who they like by the type of music they are into, I find that a bit arbitrary personally, same with fashion and books. You might have common ground but that is about all. We are a combination of our history’s, our friends, how we chose to perceive events and indeed people. The Internet, however, is geared to define us by what we buy and by what we want to buy and so much that we regard as free, search engines, messaging platforms, social media sites, is paid for by skimming our data that is then used to sell us stuff.
Our choices of what we desire are unique, almost as unique as a fingerprint, mine would be a very strange combination of Japanese model kits and artists, dystopian fiction, 18th century art books, utilitarian and repurposed military clothing and very specific art and craft materials. If you put my watch list on eBay in a line up, anyone who knows me could pick mine out instantly.
Last week I used the uniqueness of someone’s wants to pin down the identity of a naughty young woman giving me grief. They slipped up rather badly by trying to attack me through a selling site, not realising that they had failed to clear all their day to day desires from their profile before giving it a spiteful and targeted name. It narrowed the list of suspects down to just one person in seconds. Fascinating really…
It’s such an odd world we live in now, so niche… It’s great for people like me who make weird idiosyncratic stuff, as I can sell the world over, but conversely, whole industries have been irrevocably altered. Music has become so intangible that a renaissance in vinyl has been kick started in order to prop it up before it collapses through file sharing, it’s so hard finding new, decent, authors amidst the sea of self published dross, everything is so commodified that the concept of subculture is as meaningful as a choice between coke or pepsi.
I do wonder whether we are in the last generation of the tangible right now, as 3D printing becomes more affordable, how will that change our perception of stuff? While I would like to think that it’s our intelects that define us I suspect it is really stuff right now and without that, who and what are we? I guess time will tell.