I’m just rehashing, essentially, the works of several different philosophers here, so don’t think any of this is original — though I’m restating their points quite differently.
Anyway, identity bullshittery and the digital age go hand in glove. They are complements of each another and catalyze one another as well. Existing as we do more and more as avatars in the digital realm, one’s identity (like gathering armor and apparel in an RPG) becomes relatively of greater import. This identity construction and maintenance is a way to make one’s self distinct and to belong to a tribe at the same time. Furthermore, it gives one the feeling of “choosing one’s choice,” even though the actual choices at hand are carefully constructed and very limited in nearly all ways — but it appears expansive, and that’s what people care about.
In this digital netherworld that is liminal to the meatspace one and where both are merely in a darkening umbra beneath an algorithmic monolith, identity is the constrained yet “chosen” marker of who one aspires to be, what one aspires to achieve, rather than what one is. And because this aspiration now is all we have, it’s defended even unto death itself — real death, not an avatar with a hundred lives defeated by a pixel balrog.
This is why identity is so powerful and so dangerous.