We are the sum total of society’s perception of ourselves

Will Enberg, Opinions Editor

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The truth is, there is no truth. Ultimately, a Foucaultian perspective would deem the conception of fact to be impartially derived from science as a means of finding reason as to why things are they way they are. Subsequently, what we regard as truth is nothing more than the dominant narrative of the time in which we are currently living. In turn, our understanding and idealization of scientifically recognized truths take the form of knowledge through the exercise of power within a society. This notion of power seeks to discipline and control; it establishes rigid expectations detailing the way in which we ought to be, need to be, must be, all so that we can be.

It is through culturally influenced forms of media, broadcasts, advertisements, education, conversations, opinions and recommendations that subjective, contingent schemes of knowledge are constructed and then constituted into what Foucault refers to as the discourse. The discourse serves to produce meaning through the medium of thought and language. Unfortunately, it is conceivably damaging to be caught in the mix or to be in opposition of a particular narrative

How we choose to define ourselves varies from person to person, yet we are all subjected to a similar societal pressure to cultivate a sense of self by which we can be identified. Identity categories hold a considerable stake in our lives because we value our portrayed image and want to be perceived in a favorable light. As such, we contrive our appearance, whether we are conscious of doing so or not, in a way that reflects how we prefer to be seen within a society. Consequently, in the construction of character, we imprison ourselves in the aspects of our lives with which we most idealize.

What comes out of this is a need for projection, a need to put parts of our individuality into appearance. Never be afraid to be yourself and never be afraid to be different. In the establishment of the self, Butler advocates for the visiblity of identity. It’s okay to be different from the rest of the world because we always need more voices. With more voices, we can shape the discourse through an “elaboration” of the things that make us so unique.