French theorist, Michel Foucault argued that we have both a social and personal identity.
He suggested that we do not have a real identity inside ourselves, but rather that we have a “rather weak identity, which we attempt to support and to unify under a mask” (Foucault and Rabinow 1984: 94). He proposed that it is necessary to remove “every mask to ultimately disclose an original identity” (Foucault and Rabinow 1984: 78).
Instead, we communicate our identity to others through our interactions with them. Over time these interactions will cause our identity to change. Today these interactions take place more and more in the virtual world of social media where nothing is quite what it seems.
This leads us all to have, I believe, a fractured identity. We are expected to play various roles in our lives that cause us to pigeonhole parts of ourselves into characters that overlap. We do not truly know who we are and we do not have the stability to maintain our identities for long periods of time due to external pressures and expectations. This is an area I am interested in exploring further through the course of my project work.
Foucault, M., Rabinow, P. 1984. The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon Books.