Recently I have been thinking a lot about the emphasis of modern society on self-exploration. To me, it seems like there is this expectation of knowing everything there is to know about yourself and your personality. In the contemporary digital world, there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of ‘personality tests’ that range from more culturally accepted standards such as the IQ or EQ test or the Myer-Briggs personality test to more obscure and less serious tests like ‘what type of bread am I?’. But is this focus on self-exploration even realistic? And does the digital world make it easier to go on the ‘journey of self-exploration or not?
From Pottermore to r/atheism
Nowadays, there is a community on the internet for virtually everything. Through social media, people form communities through every small interest they have. For many people, at least young people who have grown up with the internet, these communities are ways through which you can explore your own personality, interests and ways of life. For example, I would never have discovered my *admittedly a little dorky* interest in the game Dungeons & Dragons if it were not for the online community around it. Without the internet, I would just not have been exposed to it. This is not only the case for interests and hobbies but also for things such as sexuality and gender which can be made easier to explore through the communities of the internet, especially for those that otherwise do not know or are exposed to other people with the same identity.
If I were a type of bread, I’d be a narcissist
On the internet, you can find thousands and thousands of personality tests. From the IQ that you (supposedly) have, to what type of job would fit you best, to what type of bread you would be, there is truly a personality test for everything. This, for me, emphasises how much modern society values self-exploration and the ability to know oneself. While, in my opinion, this is not a bad thing necessarily to strive for, it is the immense pressure that is put on everything to know every little facet of yourself that is not very beneficial. Moreover, according to digital society, the way to get to know yourself is through putting yourself in as many little boxes as you can. Through pigeonholing identity and personality, I feel that there is a loss of realisation that identity is a multidimensional and fluid thing that is not something that can just be expressed through the modern tendency of excessive pigeonholing. What type of bread you would be, does not determine who you are as a person and you are not limited to your Myer-Briggs type or the type of subreddits you follow.
All in all, I wonder if there is even such a thing as completely knowing yourself although this would be more of a philosophical debate I’m sure. Anyhow, although digital society can help you in many ways to explore yourself, your identity and your interests, there is too much pressure of contemporary society to just push yourself into all of these small boxes and types of personality that are way too rigid and one-dimensional. I feel that there should be more of a collective realisation that identity is extremely fluid and multifaceted and not something captured through a simple personality test or through only the digital self.