The danger of identifying with an ism/group is that, by doing so, we sacrifice our own nuanced individual beliefs for the benefit of the ism, supporting and eventually conforming to the beliefs, customs, and ideologies identified within the larger ism to avoid the contradictions that are created between the overriding ism’s ideology and our own beliefs. This results in the restriction of our capacity to imagine ourselves as complex, questioning humans, forfeiting individuality for a limited imagining of ourselves in the context of our chosen ism.
No one person fits so neatly into a box, and to think that ideological differences fit so neatly into one, two, or three boxes is also a fallacy, and there are so many boxes. The easiest ones to identify revolve around religious, economic, or political groups, all of which are oftentimes combined (conservative/liberal, Christian/atheist, science/religion, capitalism/socialism, etc.) but there are other, less innocuous, groups to which we offer up our personhood. It’s the perfect parent/parent shamers, fitspirationists, intellectualist, foodie, rationalist, naturists, clicktavist messages with quippy or often times passive-aggressive inflammatory/guilt motivated/groupthink memes and images that pervades our social media feeds.
By also not imagining ourselves complexly, outside the context of the ism, we in turn fail to imagine the “opposition” complexly, which is equally as harmful. Reconciliation, compromise, and empathetic understanding only begins when we attempt to understand the perspectives of the ism’s rival. There is no “this” or “that” way, no black or white – only varying shades along the spectrum of belief, yet we are constantly bombarded with vitriolic and caustic rhetoric, from all perspectives, that would like us to believe otherwise, and we are only too ready to promote, like, and share such obviously orchestrated hyperbole, making us the puppeted fools.
Critical, introspective thinking is what’s called for. Temporarily putting away our outer-selves and wrestling with questions within the often overlooked inner-self, probing claims and counterclaims, is what’s needed. Putting aside our rushed, information infused existences, where we rely on the authority of the internet, and participating in quiet, thoughtful, exploration of issues should be a more often considered response.