In my grade 12 university English class one of the major themes of the course that recurs through the texts is the question, “WHO AM I” (“A Separate Peace”, “The Educated Imagination” by Northrop Frye, and “Hamlet”),
Of course, this is a philosophical question that reaches many levels: Who am I as an individual? Who am I as a productive person, a husband/wife, father/mother, son/daughter, a Canadian, a westerner, a human being, a sentient being in the universe?
“Who am I?” is a question that is more worth asking than answering because as soon as we answer it we die in some way. Until we come back to the question of who I am, we have stopped growing, learning, we’ve stopped groping for new answers-we become hardened. This is the paradox of life- answers are so wonderful until we realize they have a little death in them every time we get them. Somehow, paradoxically, we have to have answers and still hold the questions up to view and consider, new questions perhaps, but without those questions, you might just as well put me in a casket and incinerate me because I am already dead.
People who are so certain of the ways of the world, in any endeavor- they may even be the Tiger Woods of their subject- but if they hold such certainty they have stopped growing.
So the question of who I am continues and what I find fascinating is that while Hamlet questions himself within the context of his castle and his ‘family’ problems, and Gene and Finny define themselves through their coming of age and the mistakes they make as teenagers, today, in a web 2.0 world, our definitions of who we are extend to the entire world through what we blog, what we say, the quality of our ‘friends’ in social networking, the purposes we use the web for. What we are doing here defines us as much as anything.
‘Who we are’ is no longer our little personality in our little community. It must grow to be much more than that and our strengths and our weaknesses will become much more public than ever before- that is if you are willing to take the leap into the 21st century and join the online communities who are thinking through issues of today. What issues interest you? And how far will you stretch and grow and continue to ask: “WHO AM I?”