Identities & Idolatries, Part 1: Show me what makes you defensive, and I’ll show you what owns you

Siri Myhrom
9 min readApr 10

Allowing our defensiveness to teach us — for the sake of our own freedom. 04.10.23

I spent much of 2015–2019 at war, spiritually speaking.

It was probably many years before that, too—but I suppose I had no conscious recognition of it. We’re often engaged in decades-long struggles (with others, with ourselves, with ideas) that don’t register as hostile to us because we just assume they’re normal and there is no other way to be.

Somewhere we learn that there’s a battle everywhere and we must be vigilant. I can remember as far back as middle school, as my dear mum faithfully tuned in for at least three hours a day of AM talk radio, each new male voice warning of the dire consequences of letting our guards down for even a moment and calling for swift action, in between the ads for gold bonds and elite vitamins that were lining their pockets with listeners’ indulgences.

Somewhere we learn that the world is a frightening, frightening place full of “them”s who wanted to steal all good things from “us.” That we are the last vanguard, the last hope. That we cannot rest.

My own bellicose tendencies, and the deep unhealthiness of them, became most apparent to me after 2015, because there is a semi-public record: I can watch myself duking it out on social media.

I’m certainly not proud of those moments. But I also am not ashamed or self-excoriating. My generation landed on Facebook and got iPhones before we really knew what the hell was happening or what these things were intentionally designed to do to our attention, our consciousness and sense-making abilities, and our information ecosystems.

The sludgy cauldron of polarization had been simmering for quite some time, and then 2016 happened and cranked up the heat on that burbling toxic mess.

I don’t think most normal people anticipated how dysfunctionally identity-driven we would all become or, like the coins we drop in those tornado-donation thingies, how difficult it is to extricate yourself from that vortex once you’ve hopped in.

The strange thing (well, one of the strange things) about social media is, if you know…

Siri Myhrom

Storyteller. Storylistener.