WhiteFox Wrote:...to be human?
Many say that they've never felt completely human or human at all and thus figure that they are otherkin. But where is that comparison coming from? What standards are being used in that statement and assumption? What do "ordinary" humans do or have that otherkins don't have, or vice versa?
I think "What does it mean to be human?" is dealing with a different issue from "What do people mean when they say they do not feel human?"
The latter is much easier to answer, so I'll deal with it first.
I am yet to see any behaviour, ideas, or thought processes in "otherkin" using the "I don't feel human" explanation that are anything more than reasonably common human positions. Generally, when people say "I don't feel human" it boils down to four things:
1 - Lack of feeling of connection/empathy/belonging to/with family, peer, and social groups. People feel like they aren't really part of their family, don't understand their friends, and such, and assume this means "not human". The problem with this thinking is that it is a common - not universal, but common - feeling for people in individualistic societies. None of us have access to anyone else's thoughts, and as such people tend to make gross errors in understanding other people's motivations. "Huh, he looks really happy hanging out after school, he must feel at home here" is a common assumption. An equally valid one would be "He looks really happy hanging out after school - he's really good at pretending to fit in."
I think this is especially relevant when teenagers (in Western societies) awaken, because teenagers pretty much by definition are feeling like they don't fit in, looking for their identity, etc.
2 - Lack of wider motivation/visualisation of oneself in 30 years. In general, I find that the "I don't feel human" otherkin do not say they want to go to law school and become lawyers, or medical school and become doctors, or even police school and become police officers. They tend to have a lack of ambition to achieve careers or roles that are considered prestigious in their society. This could be a cause of their alienation, or it could be a result of it - or a bit of both. If you don't feel like you belong in your society, then it can be hard to see the appeal of getting prestige in that culture; likewise if you have no interest in stereotypically prestigious life roles, it can be easy to feel like you don't belong.
3 - Every single person I have heard say they "don't feel human" compares themselves with, and only with, the culture they were raised in. Not one of them lived in a tribe up the Amazon, didn't feel at home, moved to New York, and didn't feel at home there either. Not one of them grew up in small town America, didn't like it, and moved to China to be a missionary (before not liking that either). People who say they "don't feel human" often don't have the first clue what humanity is even like . . . except for the humans in the culture in which they were born.
4 - If someone says "I don't feel human" and can't really properly explain it, or even describe it, this smacks to me of a lack of self-insight: essentially, an inability to identitfy one's own motives and feelings. That is, again, within the normal human range.
Now, as for the original question, what it means to be human . . . that's a big one, and one that's very hard to answer from this perspective. But I can throw up some characteristics of humanity in general (NOT of individual humans, because the individual variation is very wide).
- humanity is characterised by social groups forming at the largest stable level possible; be it small tribes or multi-national organisations
- humanity is characterised by the desire to understand the environment rather than respond to it
- humanity is characterised by strong family groups
- humanity is characterised by an all pervasive use of technology, from hand tools and clothes at one end, to space shuttles at the other
- humanity is characterised by non-utilitarian aspects of culture, most obviously art
- humanity is characterised by the drive to explore (this is potentially a Euro-centric comment)
There you go.