“YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.” -ANTHELME BRILLAT-SAVARIN
“YOU ARE YOU! THAT IS TRUER THAN TRUE! THERE IS NO ONE ALIVE WHO IS YOU-ER THAN YOU!” DR. SUESS
“YOU ARE NOT A BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE. YOU ARE THE SAME DECAYING ORGANIC MATTER AS EVERYONE ELSE, AND WE ARE ALL A PART OF THE SAME COMPOST PILE.” – CHUCK PALAHNIUK, FIGHT CLUB
Wherever you fall on the spectrum of the value of individuality, what makes us who we are as individuals is a curious question, and how it plays out around us is equally worth exploring, even if ultimately we’re all walking compost fodder. Consider what makes you who you are, and what makes the person next to you who they are. What qualities or characteristics come to mind?
How do we, as researchers and creatives, approach and appeal to individuality? If we view it as coming mostly from the inside—a kind of genetic or psychological framework we emerge from, what then? This is what Fitbits and mattresses that tell us our sleep habits tap into. What if instead the emphasis is on the ways we project our uniqueness with what we wear and how we mold our exterior? Canary yellow eye shadow and the continuance of seersucker in any form can be attributed to nothing if not our need to signal our “selves” through fashion. Or, what if we view individuality as something based on our choices: our careers, our art, our love of Russian literature? The idea that we’re the topline list of our achievements and hobbies—doctors, home chefs, fly fishermen—first and foremost, and why we might invest hundreds of dollars in Rosetta Stone language software.
On a broader level, how have ideas of individuality—what constitutes it and how desirable it is—have changed over time? As people try to distinguish themselves ever more from the crowd, what forms is it taking? This is what we explore in the first installment of our Slow Culture series. We look at various facets of the changing face of individuality with the hope of illuminating some of what’s gone on and where things might go in the future.