Thursday, April 20, 2006

Self-identifying by way of other people's words...

On my way into work this morning, I saw someone with the vanity plate "1JOHN 4 9". I assume this is a biblical reference, but I have no idea what John 4:9 says and I don't plan on looking it up. What I do know is that it seems rather trite to pick one chunk out of the entire Bible and slap it on your car as a way of exclaiming who you are or what you believe in. It got me to thinking about all the other oversimplified ways that people employ to identify themselves. You know, people who stick an Apple decal on their car or an NRA symbol or who fly the confederate flag. People seem so quick to associate themselves with these things and to self-label. Maybe this just makes it easier for us all to communicate with each other and to seek out like-minded individuals, but I think that it is mostly just a cop-out. I've had too many experiences in which a person is not what they seem or is much more than I assumed they might be based on these initial signs and labels. It got me to thinking about what basic labels I might slap on myself and how they might inform a stranger of who I am, or who I think I am. I am a...

First-born son and grandson, who is the oldest brother of three siblings...
Husband of a wonderful woman and father to a two year old boy...
Project manager at a technology firm...
Homeowner in the suburbs outside DC...
Owner and operator of both a Volvo stationwagon and a Toyota Prius...
Newly addicted runner...

But, frankly, does this really tell you who I am? Does it tell you what kind of movies I like or music I want to listen to? Does it tell you whether I vote or not or which party I might choose? Does it give you any real sense of my core values and whether or not I might be someone you would want to associate with?

Maybe. I mean, if you are a single city dweller and a culture snob, you can probably tell that I am not going to be someone who will share your interests. But, if you have young kids and are a devoted family guy, we might have something to talk about. If you like to run or you work in tech and own a hybrid, we might be friends (although, too many tech workers who drive hybrids are total dorks...I have no desire to hang out with them). Can we boil ourselves down to just a few words and still give people a good idea of who we are?

2 comments:

D.Walsh said...

great thoughts. But I'm confused. Are you saying you are NOT a dork?

Jon said...

I got a "vanity" plate because I thought it would be funny. I actually don't like having it because it makes me easy to spot. Maybe you disagree, but when I see a guy driving a Hummer, I know they're probably a conservative and probably a dumbass. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like hanging out with them. I don't care what movies they like or what music they listen to.