Identity is everywhere these days. It’s at the heart of what every American is trying to accomplish. To build a convincing story with their resume; to create an image through their social media profiles; to do well at work so that it strengthens their reputation. Ultimately, it’s a culture of personality, not a culture of character — this state of mind is creating a number of problems in our society, from the workplace, to the way our government operates, to the way we treat one another in our personal lives.
The impact of this culture of identity is universal. In all instances, we’ve created a situation where everyone has implicit incentives to lie about themselves. On online dating profiles, people lie about what they want and who they are. At your workplace, you lie about your engagement level, interests and happiness. Politicians lie and pander to any group — and instead of holding them accountable for this, we have become more like them in our day to day existences. All of this in service to our own eggshell images.
Not only have we changed the way we present ourselves, we’ve changed the way that we judge others. Today, the people most advantaged in society are those who can appear charismatic, friendly and to have the ‘right’ views at a glance, who can slip into a group just long enough to reap rewards, and then slip out before their true self is ever discovered. When these people stick around we often find we have buyer’s remorse; luckily, in this day and age, where job-hopping is commonplace and the idea of lifelong friends, or a lifetime spent in the same town are deeply antiquated concepts, having a strong character which reveals itself over the long term has become a trait that people pay little attention to.