Identifying Yourself with a Group Is Exhausting

People really like identifying themselves with groups. We have a lot of self-proclaims libertarians, communists, atheists, theists, gamers, intellectuals, and so on. While these labels can serve as a sort of shorthand for explaining one’s beliefs, hobbies, etc., it seems like a majority of the time spent by individuals who identify themselves with groups is denouncing all of the other individuals who also identify themselves with the same group.

Consider the self-proclaimed libertarian. He may not have a racist bone in his body but he may be accused of being a racist by somebody who doesn’t identify themselves as a libertarian. Why? Because another self-proclaimed libertarian has openly espoused racist ideals and identity politics is all about guilt by association. So our hypothetical self-proclaimed libertarian must denounce the racist self-proclaimed libertarian. They might claim that racism and libertarianism are incompatible. They might claim that the racist isn’t a real libertarian for other reasons. They might apply an additional label, such as paleo-libertarian, to create distance between their libertarianism and the racist’s libertarianism. This is a lot of work. I know, I’ve been there.

The problem with identifying yourself with a group is that different people define different groups using different criteria. A self-proclaimed libertarian may define libertarianism as a belief in private property or the non-aggression principle. A self-proclaimed communist, on the other hand, may define libertarianism as a belief system that allows racism to thrive.

As a naturally lazy person, I’ve reached a point where I’d rather avoid all of the work identifying myself with a group entails. And, frankly, life is too short to fret about imaginary nonsense.