Essay about Individuality Issues
Individuality is a false prophet, that gives less than it takes. While it gives us a sense that we are different, it takes away how closely connected we are to each other, along with the freedom of art; thinking that every piece of art shouldn’t be copied. Barbara Fredrickson talks scientifically about a new form of love in Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become, in “Son” by Andrew Solomon, he talks about identity, how it shapes who we are, and the issues that identities may experience.
In The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism, Jonathan Lethem talks about history in the art world, along with the effect plagiarism had on it. Individuality and uniqueness act as ways to comfort ourselves that who we are, what we do and create are one-of-a-kind; this comfort makes us not realize how our identity is forged by interacting with others and various stimuli in the world. By putting less emphasis on individuality and uniqueness, art will become more free so that artists can create without fear of “copying”, love will become more open as a concept, and life in general can become so much more colorful.
How it works
Individuality isn’t as special as we think it is, and science often butts heads with it in life. As “individuals”, we all think, feel, and act differently independent of each other. Nobody seems like an exact carbon copy of another, not even twins. The reality of life is that the main thing that truly makes us different from our peers despite the obvious physical characteristics of our bodies are our beliefs, preferences towards anything, and how we act. Science often overlooks anything that gives something individuality, as science takes in evidence and data to churn out general facts about life or the world.
An example of this is with the science of love as proposed by Barbara Fredrickson. In part of her writing, she states that “Love, as it turns out, nourishes your body the way the right balance of sunlight, nutrient-rich soil, and water nourishes plants and allows them to flourish”, which demonstrates an issue between science and individuality, where love, an emotion that most people have experienced, is something that’s essential to life just as how a plant needs sunlight or water. We always hold our emotions to a special spot on our personality, which we consider to be part of what makes us different from one another. What we often don’t realize is that we are shaped by the people we meet, the actions we take, and factors in our environment.
What we do and experience in life ultimately shapes our identity; we take the life experiences of our peers and mentors and adjust them to affect how we live our lives. This can apply to a gay person having recently discovering their homosexuality or a musician trying to learn how to play an instrument of make music. It’s impossible to identify as something or become a great musician without ever talking to another person who identifies a similar way or learning from someone with knowledge on music. We often rely on these people to help us learn about ourselves or something we’re interested in. Solomon described conditions like dwarfism, autism, and deafness as identities, along with homosexuality.
These identities can help to shape how a person becomes in life. Sometimes people live in communities where such identities are seen as bad or taboo, and might try to “fix” them. When growing up in these conditions, like with Solomon being gay and his school that was avidly against gay people, you tend to view your own identity as a flaw, since it’s not “normal” to be gay. The effects of our surroundings can greatly impact how we interact with others, like how Solomon stated that students in his school “spoke monstrously of and even to gay teachers because their prejudice was so obviously endorsed by the school community”. When our surroundings can affect our personalities like that, it tends to chip away at individuality in that sense. Individuality often creeps over works of art with a dark, shadowy claw.
Individuality blinds us from the fact that most media and art are based off of inspirations from other works or ideas in the world that many others can come up with. Countless times people are criticized by others for adopting a system or style that is similar to that of another person. This can be seen in any part of the world, where someone comes up with a format to perform a certain task, and another person performs the same task in a similar fashion. What happens next could be a bunch of people arguing about how they’re so-called “copying” someone’s idea when literally anybody could have thought of it. This can apply to music, books, or just art in general.
The effects of these can make an artist afraid of putting their work out there, limiting how much new work is actively being put out. Copyright is a big cause of fear in the world of media, the potentiality of having your work being taken down by someone who owns a concept. Lethem describes copyright as a “monopoly on use, a ‘usemonopoly’”, which makes a lot of sense when you look at Walt Disney with its famous movies, where all of them drew inspiration from an actual book or folktale. By making a copyright out of a production based on an older story, you literally make it so that nobody else can make a similar story, when the copyrighted production wasn’t an original or unique idea. If art became more free from copyright, things might be different in the world of art.
The freedom of art via limiting the idea of uniqueness will serve to expand the world of art greatly. By removing copyright from art and media, it will allow for a greater freedom of expression in all facets. In Lethem’s writing, he stated that Thomas Jefferson had “considered copyright a necessary evil: he favored providing just enough incentive to create, nothing more”, but even for things that aren’t copyrighted, such as indie video games (which aren’t always copyrighted), people still create out of love of the subject.
So while copyright may be considered necessary for the market, it shouldn’t be used to force people to not make art based off of existing media they love. Now with this freedom, musicians and artists alike can learn from those they look up to, and develop their own style to diversify the art world more. Can love also change if we look at it with less individuality or uniqueness?
Currently, love is often reserved for the people close to us, but when we see love as being less unique, we can expand our horizons. In romantic relationships, we can sometimes see something akin to a competition between couples, where one tries to outperform the other or tries to mimic another couple based on popular romantic tropes. These romantic tropes tend to raise expectations for what a partner does, often ending in dissatisfaction or breakups.
However, if we think of love in the way Fredrickson defined it, as a science, we may be able to broaden what we define as love and maybe love our peers more. By thinking of love as less of an emotion fuelled by individuality, we can love more people around us. Fredrickson stated that the love we perceive it to be is akin to a “complex and bewildering thicket of emotions, expectations, and insecurities”, and it makes sense that it does, by looking at various failed relationships people talk about on the internet or in real life. So, since scientific love strips away any individuality associated with the person, it’ll make sense that following a scientific definition of love will improve how we love.
In total, the biggest way art can become less strict and how love can become more open is through emphasizing less on uniqueness and individuality, because our personalities are always formed through how we interact with others in life. While individuality is a comforting concept, it truly is something that takes away more from people than it gives.