Mr. Rogers was wrong: You’re really not that special

You are not special.

It is wonderful to live in a society where we appreciate more and more the complexities of life: the distinctions and intersections of gender and sex and family, the power of words, the subtle and subconscious ways in which we can affect others. It is wonderful that we have better and better tools to discuss such things, too (words like queer, cisgender, trans*).

But things are still things. Facts are still facts. Language is still vital to communication, and communication is key to living a meaningful life. We need good models in our heads of what the world really is so we can build habits and live our lives with ease, hopefully happiness, and maybe even genius.

Even if we accept that these models and habits and languages are imperfect, though, we should not accept the anarchy of Identocracy – the theory that society is comprised of individuals who are whatever they say they are, dammit, sky’s the limit, and if you disagree you’re oppressing me with your homo sapiens privilege!

Identocracy values self-proclaimed identity above all else. Its motto might be, “I am whatever I say I am, therefore I am.” The core tenet of Identocracy is that Truth – with a capital T – is unique to the individual, and only that individual has the means and the right to proclaim that unique individual Truth, and that Truth is Identity.

The world according to Identocrats resembles a Neverland in which no one ever has to face the external pressures of reality, where all the hair color and limbs and potential purchases of oppression just fall away because we say so. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure model of the universe where objective reality is a self-selected fiction; all that matters is Identity.

And I blame Mr. Rogers.

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