The Changing Self: Fear of Death?

This item was provoked by a student essay in Cyberspace Ethnography, and is meant as an invitation for readers to post their ideas rather than serving as some sort of definitive statement on the issue.

Speaking of how the self is presented on Facebook, one informant told the researcher in the course:

“The person I am, this changes too. I seek out new experiences with new people. What this means is I come into new ‘truths’. So am I always the same? I don’t think so. I’m changing into a new person. I also like to think I’m finding and making myself in this way.”

Tying in with previous posts on “impermanence” (first, second), I thanked the researcher for provoking the following speculative question:

“I wonder about the extent to which this act of seeing ourselves as caterpillars-becoming-butterflies, the constant metamorphosis we claim to undergo, is more a statement of desire, and one motivated out of fear of death and hope that we will live on in some form or fashion. My very tentative impression is that in societies where persons lack a pronounced fear of death, there is a greater sense of a fixed self in social life, not stasis, not an absence of beliefs in a spirit world or an afterlife, but a sense that the ‘leopard cannot easily change its spots’.”

(Aside from this: I loved the quote of an informant who says of self-presentation on Facebook–“it’s what you like, not what you are like that matters”.)

Feel free to post your thoughts on this topic, especially whether there is any ethnographic substance to support the speculation above.

On the subject of death and blogging, and related to previous posts about Roi Kwabena, see the post onblogging the dead” at Guanaguanare.