The last two lessons of this unit demonstrated how outside factors such as names, labels, and assumptions can influence identity. One goal of this lesson is to help students become more self-aware and realize that they have the opportunity to make choices about who they are. Sometimes the choices a person makes, consciously or unconsciously, can affect how others perceive that person. Students will consider how choices—like deciding what to wear in the morning, how to style themselves, or how to present themselves on social media—can emphasize some aspects of their identities while minimizing or hiding others.
Sometimes others react to us based on choices we make, and the reactions of others can affect our future choices. This feedback loop can be observed perhaps most plainly in the ways that we create and revise our identities online. When we first join a social media platform, we pick and choose the parts of our identities to share in our profiles and postings, and if we do not receive the comments and “likes” that we are looking for, we revise. In this lesson, by examining the thought processes of others who are negotiating identity online, students can better reflect on their own experiences and also make connections to the ways that they manage their identities in “real life.”
Another goal of this lesson is to prompt students to explore the idea of choosing to follow personal interests, for it is often through pursuits we feel passionate about that we are able to break free from the identity feedback loop described above. When we are able to lose ourselves (or “find ourselves,” as it were) in a topic or activity that speaks deeply to us, the perceptions others make about us often matter at least a little bit less and we are able to present ourselves maybe in a more accurate form.