This is a Serial Experiments Lain review, which is about a young girl called Lain and her struggle with the world of the Wired and Identity.
They say everyone has a face that they think they have, a face that they show to other people and another face which people see them as. And one can be sure none of them is ever the actual face. With the advent of the internet, I believe there is another layer of facade. A facade we keep up to cement this loose concept of identity. Maybe it is the way to the next level or layer for humanity, who knows? Let us dive into this topic through the cult classic Cyberpunk 1998 show, Serial Experiments Lain.
Watching Serial Experiments Lain for like the 30th time because “Let’s all love Lain”, I am again treated with the nihilistic trans-humanism garbage flying around in my head. I didn’t mean garbage sorry… shout-out to my trans-humanism bros out there. Anyway, this show feels significantly more connected (wired) to us as the days go by. Also, I’m not making a review or explaining what is Serial Experiments Lain, there are thousands of videos doing that already. I am merely talking about concepts I thought about while watching the show.
Identity in 21st century
In the age where society discourages stepping out of our house, our online identity became that much more important than ever before. To a point where people have to delete their social accounts to hide their past when applying for jobs. To hide a time in the past where writing on social media has no bearings in our real life identity. A time where everyone is posting just for the hell of posting things.
Recent cancel culture is a great example of this occurrence. Big celebrities and popular names are being publicly shamed for what they posted when they were 14-15 years old. Although cancel culture is not what we are focusing on at the moment, this is just to point out how important our online persona is to our lives nowadays.
First Identity: Our everyday self
Using Freud’s concept of ID, Ego, and SuperEgo, our identity depends on how these 3 parts act in different situations. When we are by ourselves will obviously different from when we are in public. And we as a person try to find the most optimal way of controlling the all three. The turmoil in our heads about whether we should do what we want or do what we think society deems is best. This forms the basis for how we present ourselves to the world and how we are perceived by everyone else. And using this, we can see where we stand in society as a person.
Second Identity: Our online self
In this age, other than our actual life, but our online life seems just as important, if not more. And more often than not, our actual life is usually miles apart from what our online persona is. This is probably because we want to show only the best version of ourselves for our viewers to see online. And unlike in real life, the online world allows unlimited ways of manipulation of this shrewd online identity. And more often than not, we even lie to ourselves that our online persona is who we truly are.
In Serial Experiments Lain, Lain had the trouble of finding out which version of her is the true Lain. The one in the wired (online) or who she is outside of the online world.
Third Identity: How others perceive us in the online world
With the exaggerations we put on ourselves and our online persona; combined with the perception of others, which usually intensifies the exaggerations again. There will be a third identity of who we are, which usually will be out of our control. This is because it depends entirely on how people see us or read into our words and pictures online. Even for Lain, there was the version of her made by the knights. This is based on who they think she is, or should be. This was the identity who released Arisu’s secret to the world. But in a way, she was all these versions of her while not being them as well.
Khloe Kardashian and her similarity to Lain
A twisted similar situation is how Khloe Kardashian’s unedited photo being released to the public. She and her company try to take them off the internet. Her reason was that they were not who she thinks she is or wants to present herself as. She stated that she always thought of herself as a lesser of her siblings in terms of beauty. Using these makeups and photo editing gets her to feel better about herself which people criticise this victimhood stance that she took.
This is mainly because to many, she is part of the reason women’s standard of beauty is almost unattainable. But then act as a victim of the same system she helps to build up. So the identity of who she thinks she is completely differs from the identity she presents herself as. Which also completely different to how people perceive her in the online world.
To most critics, her heavily edited pictures influenced young girls to try to attain impossible body standards. To what extent this is, is a different topic altogether, but let’s just say it did to some if not all. If we take Khloe’s statement to spread body positivity as being true to her intentions, but people’s interpretations of the same are vastly different.
So just like Lain’s 3rd persona Lain who released the secrets of Arisu. Khloe’s other persona raised the beauty standard in the online world as well. Although she claimed her intentions were to simply “Present myself to the world the way I want to be seen” and spread body positivity.
So how much control does she have over this perception other people have of herself over the internet? In the same light, how much control do we have over this same perception on ourselves by others? It is almost like these perceptions have a different life of their own. A life which the actual person has little to no control over.
Identity now and what’s coming next
This is the part where I go to coo-coo land now. Recently I read an article about this firm called Eternime who is trying to bring back people from the dead. But as an AI bot using whatever information they can find online and offline. Information gathered from their search history, the way they chat, the people they talk to, and many more sources of information, the company promised to make an AI version of the person almost indistinguishable from the actual person.
But no, the AI is just an essence of who you were, provided you agree to making this Bot. But if we look at the AI Bot as a culmination of everything that you were online… which was actually you by all means, then to some point, that Bot is you. So just like how Chisa from Secret Experiments Lain once said that she doesn’t need a physical body anymore, because she is alive in the wired; you can say you can achieve a similar immortality to that of Chisa.
To conclude this total mess in a few lines, the internet has become such an important part of our lives that it may very well be an entirely different world from what we like to call reality. A world where we can literally achieve immortality, a new life, and where we are not bound by physical laws of reality. Maybe it might be a bit of an exaggeration, but who knows? Maybe God does exist in the wired.
*Please note: The author or this article is not an expert or even remotely aware of psychology, AI development, Fashion, or most of the many topics discussed above. So please do your own research on each topic as you’re likely to be misled. He just wants to sound smart while writing about it 😀