Identity, sharing economy and tears of joy emoji

What are the qualities that make up our identity?
What are the qualities that make up our identity?

WHAT do "identity," "sharing economy" and "face with tears of joy emoji" have in common?

Not a lot at first blush! But they've each been selected as the 2015 "Word of the Year" - by, the Australian National Dictionary Centre, and the Oxford Dictionary respectively. The decisions were based on the prominence and frequency of usage of the terms throughout the year.

Did you affect their choice?

You certainly did if you were part of the intense debate about cultural and racial identity weaving its way in and out of the news all last year, or if you participated in the equally impassioned discussions about our understanding of gender and sexuality.

As human thought wrestles with these issues, standpoints taken for granted down the centuries are being re-evaluated.

Apart from the social and political questions being raised, the desire for a clearer view of identity has also been the subject of research.

For instance, one study found our brains can't really fit into categories of "male" or "female" but consist of a range of qualities displayed uniquely by each of us, irrespective of gender.

To me, this hints at what a health reformer and spiritual thinker named Mary Baker Eddy discovered about our underlying spiritual nature - which she demonstrated in the healing of physical and mental illness on the basis of what she discerned.

"Gender means simply kind or sort," is "not confined to sexuality" and is "mental, not material," she explains in the bestseller, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

When her husband passed away, Annu realised she needed to put into practice what she'd read in this book, and understand more deeply how we're each a union of feminine and masculine qualities - of gentleness, love and beauty as well as strength, understanding and wisdom, and so on. Rather than identifying herself as a woman needing a man to be whole, Annu found this understanding about individual completeness made her free from many restrictions in her new circumstances.


You also affected the Word of the Year if you took an interest in the evolving idea of a "sharing economy". This is defined as an economic system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals either for free or for a fee, typically by means of the Internet. (Oxford Dictionary)

It's clear that we're relishing being part of this new kind of economy. The popularity of Ebay has shown how honesty and openness can build a strong digital community of trust. Uber and Airbnb have followed suit - taking the concept of "a community of trust" into the fields of cab rides and holiday accommodation. And nearly two-thirds of such businesses say peer regulation works better than government regulation.

This, too, boils down to a question of identity. On the one hand, the key to building that trust is very practical, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, namely to authenticate the identity of both users and providers. On the other hand, the user - whether the client or the provider - needs to nurture the honesty, integrity and dependability that make his or her identity trustworthy.


Maybe some of you have been instrumental in the choice of this unusual "Word of the Year" without even realising that the joyful Internet emoji you used - with tears streaming down its cheeks - was called by this name. If so, then you've probably joined me in shedding happy tears on hearing reports such as the rescue of a teenager from under a collapsed building days after an earthquake in India or maybe news closer to home, from family or friends.

This year, there's also been a plethora of negative news items. But perhaps the significantly increased usage and selection of "face with tears of joy" emoji suggests another story was being told away from the nightly news.

On social media, this emoji might occasionally be added to news of the latest gossip, a new outfit, or extra money in the bank. More often, though, I've seen it associated with more substantial things like the latest good-news post from a friend on Facebook ... a hard-fought achievement celebrated … or an unfair law overturned.

And it can go even deeper than that, of course. What brings me the most joy is gaining what I would call a different, "divinely scientific", perspective on life from spiritual insights about the nature of an all-loving God and man's innate goodness as His likeness. These insights about true identity, I have found, can heal me.

May our 2016 be filled with just such reasons to shed tears of joy and with an ever-deepening sense of the precious divine identity of ourselves and all our neighbours, whatever their race, culture, sex or sexuality.

Kay Stroud writes on the connection between consciousness, spirituality and health, and trends in that field. Blogs at


Topics:  culture emoji gender honesty racism sexuality sharing word of the year

Hawaii's John John takes world crown

Hawaii's John John Florence celebrating his world title victory at the Meo Rip Curl Pro in Portugal. John John couldn't be happier to claim his first world title crown although it was on the cards that he would do so in Hawaii. Now he can really let loose in the final events of the year on his home territory.

Surf Scene: John John Florence's world title win

Severe thunderstorms to form on Friday

North Coast Storm Chasers posted this image along with a warning.

Tweed should be spared but warnings are in place.

Community Diary: What's on around Tweed?

CROWNING GLORY: Ivy You showing off one of her beautiful orchids. The annual Tweed District Orchid Show will be held at the Tweed Civic Centre on Saturday, November 5 -6. Doors open at 8.30am, with entry costing $3. Plants will be available for sale at this fully judged show after a season which organisers say has seen an extraordinary display of orchids.

Community Diary: What's on around Tweed

Local Partners

Hacksaw Ridge leads AACTA Awards nominations

Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in a scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

MEL Gibson's wartime drama opens in cinemas next week.

ABBA to reunite for virtual live experience


ABBA have confirmed they are to reunite - in virtual reality form

Hugh Laurie receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hugh Laurie on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hugh Laurie and his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Blake Lively hosts 40th party for Ryan Reynolds

Blake Lively throws husband Ryan Reynold's 40th birthday bash

What's on the big screen this week

Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from the movie Doctor Strange.

MARVEL'S latest superhero Doctor Strange makes his debut.

Trump 'worked like hell' to pick up John Travolta's wife

John Travolta and Kelly Preston

Trump wrote comments in tribute to Travolta's son Jett

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June