Future of 'I' (self – you – identity)

The Association of Professional Futurists runs a monthly 'future chat' on Twitter. See #futrchat for more information. These chats are open to everyone on Twitter and consist of a one hour mass sharing of thoughts and ideas for a future worth understanding and striving for.

This month I got 'cornered' into co-hosting one (@urbanverse and @jenjarratt – thank you for the push and shove 🙂

This month of 2012 the chat is held:
3/22 at 4pm NYC
3/22 at 8pm London
3/23 at 7am in Sydney (Oz).

As a co-host and the one who suggested the topic for this event I have prepared a few thought pointers.

Your future 'I' depends on you… and the rest of us; how you carve your way in amongst the rest of us carving our way, what you choose or don't from the menu of tools and directions for change – to make your future better for you and maybe, if we like what you're doing, to take the rest of us with you.

Many of the about 2700 tweets that have flowed 'out of my mind' to this shared mindspace have had something to do with the varying aspects of 'I', you, self or identity.

Some themes have been: who we really are (as species), where do we think we should go, what tools do we have to do that with, what is stopping us, what is making us satisfied with the journey, what is changing around us to make the journey easier or not, and then more challenging and perhaps a little 'black hole like' – what will these changes bring about?

To put some structure around some of those dimensions I have created a little framework for the Future of 'I'.


Our identity is

ONE part who we are now or how we're perceived now,

ONE part who we say we are and how many of 'Is' we project and

ONE part who we're becoming; is it a better version of who we were or a new us in some distinct way.

Life takes turns in these terms. If we find ourselves in a disruptive place (good or bad) in our lives, we shift to a new box, even if only momentarily, only to potentially be right back to where we started from.

Future of I - framework


Today we are in a strange place. The coalescence of factors that have opened our eyes to our capacity to change and provide us with important tools to change is phenomenal. What is in your toolbox for betterment?

Globally we are now faced with such a huge variety of possibilities of 'who to be', 'how to be', 'why to be' that we do not have be philosophers to possess an idea of the push and pull between what these two authors have said and the meaning of what they say to our potential and limitations:

“More and more, when faced with the world of men, the only reaction is one of individualism. Man alone is an end unto himself. Everything one tries to do for the common good ends in failure.” Albert Camus

“No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee.” John Donne

The first tool of difference we face now is the fact that we have understood the potential for change – it is not easy but it is on offer – we can alter our bodies, our minds and our relating.

Future of I - tools


Like a pendulum we tend to swing with the novel until we find our equilibrium again. Some of us inherit and learn ways of being that are less than useful. Today as a society of sharers and blurters we have put a whole new spin on 'narcissism', not the disorder kind but the 'look at me' kind. When our identity takes many positions online life can turn into a surreal whirl. Then the question is: 'who am I for real?' or "Is my spin helping or hindering?" If we spin out of control with our wishes to be who we're not then we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory with not enough under our belt, for some this 'throwing oneself into the fire' works.

We all travel through many of these boxes and at times we put ourselves into positions of uncertainty or overshooting, even if just a little, and we have to. We cannot emerge at the other side of change without going through it first. Every little step towards the future 'I' is already in the unknown and we need to step into that new before we are fully competent.

Future of I - overshooting

Idea of identity

Will identity be what identity was? As a concept identity remains the way in which we make distinctions between people(s). Bar a world where distinctions were pushed to extinction, identity remains. What is different today? It is the speed at which we play with the possibilities. It can be as simple as changing some wording in our profiles or as big a taking on another life online (or offline).

Future of I - idea of identity


Frameworks do not lend themselves well to the rather past-paced #futrchat, so I have created a list of questions some of which I will introduce during our conversation.

Feel free to introduce anything that you consider pertinent to the topic of the Future of 'I' and we'll see what takes off, what captures people's imagination and brings their experiences and thinking to the shared mindspace.

These questions do not frame the whole matter of the Future of 'I' but rather give us some discussion points of where 'I' (you, self, identity) may be in the Future.

The links are illustrations of what some have said about the thoughts/questions I put forward; you may agree, disagree, expand on what is in those links, just share your views on the questions or just go for the next question that comes along during our chat.

  • "As our lives are more transparent to all – will that make us better?"
  • "Will we be more (or less) defined by our connections in the future, as we interact on social networks and get enmeshed in the lives of others'."
  • "The more we understand about our own neurology, the more we adjust our behaviors OR…"
  • "The longer we live the more 'lives we live' and keep re-inventing our lives – does that fragment our identity?"
  • "Wisdom about who we are tends to come/change with experience (age – life lived). Does an aging population make the world wiser?"
  • "Will our future personal brands be more about who we are than what we do?"
  • "Flippantly we say: People do not change. What does what does not ? Why/why not?"
  • "If our childhood is very difficult – is our identity forever shattered? What can be done to make a difference?"
  • "Tools like for example NLP (neuro linguistic programming video) provide us with some means to deal with (alter) our selves and our interactions. What is the impact on the Future of I?"
  • "Eyes are the window to our soul" What is that soul? Is it reflective, do we change our souls by changing our eyes – the way we look at things and people?
  • "Your body language and facial expressions are read – city cameras are studying you – is acting going to be a key skill for us all?
  • "When in love we can conquer the world – we are invincible – how can we use that knowledge better?"
  • "Our mind is our connected minds (e.g., Mindsight) – our sensory apparatus is part of the overall 'mind' – what does 'I' mean?


See you there!


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