From Brendan O’Neill at Spiked:
Nothing speaks more profoundly to the crisis of character than the phrase, ‘I identify as…’. In the past, individuals were. ‘I am a builder.’ ‘I am a mother.’ ‘I am a Jew.’ There was a confidence, a certainty, to their sense of identity, and to their declaration of it. ‘I am.’ Today, individuals identify as something. ‘I identify as working class.’ ‘I identify as non-binary.’ Or, in the notorious case of Rachel Dolezal, the American white woman who effectively blacked-up as she rose up the ranks of the NAACP, ‘I identify as black’. The rise of the i-word in our definition of ourselves, the ascendancy of what is called ‘self-identification’, is one of the most notable developments of the 21st century so far. It speaks to a shift from being to passing through; from a clear sense of presence in the world to a feeling of transience; from identities that were rooted to identities that are tentative, insecure, questionable.
Those words ‘I identify as’ – whether they’re being uttered by Caitlyn Jenner as she unveils her newfound womanhood or by an eco-friendly New York Times writer who says ‘I identify as a mammal’ – feel strikingly contingent. They speak to changeability. The undertone is ‘I identify as such-and-such for now’. Indeed, these highly personalised ‘identifications as’ something sometimes come with an acknowledgment that the identification could change in time, and change dramatically. A gender non-binary writer tells us that he/she ‘identifies as both genders’, but then says: ‘I do not know… whom I will identify as in the future.’
Reality check:It all makes sense if we recall that so many people today are not anything in particular to anyone in particular and can’t do anything that matters to anyone.
Except demand acceptance of and worse, interest in, the current swirls in their puddle of identity. Their demands will probably intensify with idleness, and encouragement from their minders.
See also: From the BBC Newspeak dictionary committee: End “he” and “she”