One of the first findings in the Dutch pilots of the Dynamic Identity workshops were that a surprising amount of youngsters, aged 11 to 14, told us that one of the central questions of the workshop “Who are you until now” was not interesting for them. About one in three students said that finding the answer out to the question “Who am I” was not relevant to them. Rather they were interested in what others thought of them.
When Beata Staszynska and I told Radek Nowak from Dynamic Identity project partner GCPU about this findings he immediately reacted that people who rather are interested in the opinion of others than in their own answers are more prone to adopting addiction behavior.
Are the first findings a foreboding of a new trend? Or is the trend already there for a longer time?
The German yellow paper Bild probably summarized the ultimate consequence of placing intra-group identity over a personal identity: “they celebrate themselves”. The comment was made as a reaction to the Dutch football cup final where Ajax ultras threw fireworks on the field, thereby endangering their own goalie. A Dutch newspaper expanded on that: “This group of youngsters does not “celebrate” football or the game – they don’t even “celebrate” their own club. They only celebrate themselves. They come to the stadium to show that they are crazier, more extreme, tougher and more fanatical than other youth groups. They create their own stage on YouTube and social media”.
I’ve been wondering for quite some time in stadiums why ultras follow their own program in the stadium during a game, hardly reacting to what is happening on the pitch. They dance and sing ninety minutes with admirable energy – but seem detached from the game. Is this the consequence of a dominating intra-group identity?
Maybe Zygmunt Bauman is right stating that “the updated version of Descartes’s Cogito is ‘I am seen, therefore I am’ – and that the more people who see me, the more I am …” (Moral Blindness, p.28)