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Raging On: Interests, Passions and Identity

December 28, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Among the many devices that humans use to identify themselves in relation to fellow human beings are “areas of interest.” These items, or sources of inspiration and passion, are the activities, items, or behaviors that excite the individual. We enjoy only a selective cluster of things and in considering this cluster better understand who we are as individuals. In a way, our interests function as a distinction from the rest of the population or, in some cases, assist in understanding which cluster of human beings we belong to. In short, our interests both define who we are and connect us to the rest of the population. Furthermore, this connection is two-fold: functioning both for the individual whose interests are under consideration and the population at large in which the individual is a member.

Due to this important factor, the communication of these interests is often the most powerful communication of any human being. An individual will express an interest in multiple formats and medium. Beyond dress and the image presented to the world, an individual will verbally express interests and act out these interests when possible. We seem desperate to tell as many people as often as possible what it is that makes us who we are. One wonders whether if in doing so we are merely engaging in our favorite behavior or functioning with ulterior motives, perhaps seeking out others who are like us or even trying to convince ourselves that this so-called interest is in fact as interesting and engaging as we believe. Does our behavior secretly state, “See me doing this and having fun? Do you like this and if so do you want to do this with me?” or “I’m doing this and I think I’m having fun. Am I really having fun?”

Sometimes we never know.

For some the communication of interests comes not in frequency of demonstration but in power. The consumption of food and beverage are interests best suited to this technique, but any activity that involves extensive physical action can utilize this format- specifically the jogger who runs further, longer or later than another. “How extreme are you? This is how extreme I am” seems to be the silent communication at play here. The drinker will consume until beyond appreciation of the item or the eater will consume so much to render his or her physical state beyond stasis. In a way we’re expressing the idea that we love our interest so much that we’re drowning in the passion.

The need to express an interest is understandable. Often we utilize varied formats to express our interests, most often via frequency and power. For some these expressions serve to communicate the level of interest and establish legitimacy. We all fear the status of amateur and see it as an insult to our personal value. One of the sourest human emotions is the sense of mediocrity. The sting of being half-interested or partially-skilled leaves us all desperate to express the things we love and drive home our point as clearly as possible. After all, if we can’t even express our interest in the things we love how great can we be at actually engaging in the behavior?

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