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The "Onion Model" in the Representation of Someone's' Identity

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Everyone has multiple identities. Someone can be a parent, sibling, child, and friend, while at the same time they can be a customer, coach, coworker, and student. That same day, they can be someone cheering on a sports team or music team, or someone participating on online activities. All of these show a persons different identities. According to Communication In Everyday Life, identity is, “a person’s uniqueness, represented by descriptions, a self-concept, inner thoughts, and performances, that is symbolized in interactions with other people and presented for their assessment and moral evaluation” (page 390). Although, identity can also be simply defined as, “who a person is” (page 47). People do not possess core selves, but are thought to possess a core self through different experiences. This shows that people are who they are. The “Onion Model” (Altman & Taylor, 1973), developed by theorists, is used to represent a person and their layers (identities). I disagree with the “Onion Model” because it’s not a really good way to show, and represent the different layers of of someones identities. The “Onion Model” consists of five layers, levels, superficial, intimate, personal, and core. This model is used to dig deeper and deeper to find out who a person really is. In the text

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“According to this model, others very rarely reach the center core. For instance, a person may get to know someone else broadly but in a shallow way—a broad V cut a couple of layers deep into the onion. Or a person may get to know someone’s identity in a narrower but deeper cut—a narrow V cutting through several layers.” (page 50). This shows that you can get to someone’s core, but very rarely do some people make it to the core. Communication In Everyday Life, uses the example of Bob. Bob can have several different personalities each day, but each day he is constructing multiple identities. Bob can be a very nice person who is loyal, trusting, open, honest, comforting, caring, active in organizing charitable events, a fabulous cook, devoted to his aging parents, and several other activities. At work, Bob can be be the most hated officer in the Boarder Protection branch of Homeland Security. He is referred to as such a completely ruthless, nasty, dogged, suspicious, awkward cuss. This example of Bob, shows how he constructs several identities throughout his everyday life, just like all of the other people. This all adds to why I disagree with the “Onion Model” because I think the “core” should be represented as the outside layer. Just because someone can act different at one place, and act a completely opposite way at another doesn’t make a difference. Some people truly get to know who a person really is right away, while others may take longer. This all represents a persons personality, which I believe is known as a persons “core”.

Everybody can have different moods, situations, relationships, and evaluations (page 51). All of these should not be represented as the layers to the “Onion Model”, or be part of your identity. Your mood can change everyday. Somedays you may be having a bad day, while other days you may be having a good day. All of these different moods can affect your identity, and may not represent who you truly are. When people have a health or medical problem, they may not be themselves. Or when some one is having a bad hair day, their mood may not actually represent who they actually are. It may take time and patience for someone to recover and be back to their normal selves. I relate to this because when I’m in a bad mood, I give other people attitudes, but this really doesn’t represent me because the next day I’m a completely different person. Also, the situation may also affect a persons identity. At school they may be mean and unfriendly, while at work they may be outgoing and funny.

Many factors can come into play as to why the person is acting this way in school. Maybe they haven’t found a friend to actually socialize with, or they may take school in a serious way and rather focus on their studies to try and receive good grades. Relationships can play a major affect in someones true identity. Someone can act one way around their family members, and act a completely opposite way around their friends. Someone may also act all nice around their significant other, while acting all mean and harsh around their own parents. Evaluations may also play a significant role in someones identity. Two managers may be arguing about one of their co-workers. One manager may think that the co-worker works very well and shouldn’t be fired, while the other manager may think that the co-worker is working terribly and should be fired. Sometimes when you see someone at a quick glance, you might consider them to be a bad person. You can’t just evaluate a person from the outside, if you get to know them from the inside, they might be a better person than you thought. Just like they say don’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge a person by their looks, get to know them and their personality, and then you can evaluate them. All of these different personalities affect someones core, and who they really are. The “Onion Model” shouldn’t be used to represent someones identity because that person may be someone one day and the next day be a completely different person. The different moods, situations, relationships, and evaluations don’t truly actually represent a persons identity.

Some people may think that the “Onion Model” is a good way to represent the layers of someones identity, while others may not. I personally don’t think that the “Onion Model” is a true representation for someones identity. The core should be the outside of the “Onion Model” because everyone can act different each and every day, and this doesn’t truly define their identity. Moods can play a major role. One day they may be in a bad mood, while the next day they may be in a good mood. Situations can also play a major role. Depending on the situation, someone may be more comfortable at work, while at school they may feel uncomfortable. Relationships also play a major role. Someone may act very kind and polite around their relatives, while around their friends they may act all goofy, and harsh. Finally, evaluations also play a major role. Depending on the evaluation, one manager may view the co-worker as a good worker, while the other manager may not, and want to fire them. No one is their true self. Everybody changes each and everyday, and you can’t identify someone based on one day. Get to know who they truly are.

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