Saturday, February 28, 2009

Multiple Online Personalities: Am I the only one who does this?

I have my own website and my own e-mail address. However, a few months ago, I began exploring some adult-oriented interests of mine, interests that I have had for a long long time but never had the willingness to explore more fully for myself. Knowing the nature of the internet and the web and the ability for just about anybody to track you down anywhere, I decided it would be prudent of me to explore these adult interests under a pseudonym and a different e-mail address. So I created one and use it regularly for that purpose. One community I have joined online, I have a blog which I started with that pseudonym, and I regularly contribute to forums and chat on that community with the same pseudonym.

However, most people who know me online know me from my regular e-mail address. I've become rather like a celebrity over the last 11 years or so in my own corner of the internet with regard to my impact on certain elements of the field of cognitive science. (Check out my website which you can find in my profile if you want the gory details on that. Mine was the very first personal website on the topic of my specific disability. It turns out there are a lot more people who share my disability than I thought at the time I created my website.)

For my own personal reasons, I work very hard to keep these two identities seperate. Although I have shared my cognitive quirks with the adult community I've decided to take part in, and received some very helpful and useful feedback with regard to some of my specific concerns with regard to the nature of social interaction in such adult communities, I'm still rather reluctant to share too much information about myself in that kind of place.

So anyway, I wanted to ask you all: Do you have a double life, perhaps even a triple or quadruple life or more, in your interactions online? Do you feel more comfortable keeping certain aspects of your online life separate from certain other aspects, or do you simply clump everything together and let people find out as much as possible about you by learning about your singular-use online identity? Also, I wanted to ask this too: How much of your online identity is true to your off-line identity? Its been very rare that I have ever contradicted my offline identity with my online one. Regardless of where I go, I always write and speak from my heart. Am I unique in this, or do others tend to approach this online/offline social life stuff the same way I do?

This post was originally published on on Aug. 18, 2007 at 01:36am.

1 comment:

  1. The following comments were posted by people from the community:

    On Aug. 18, 2007 at 02:26am, ZacharyP wrote:

    I only use one identity, but I have multiple personality disorder as a part of said identity...

    On Aug. 18, 2007 at 01:55am, bathory313 wrote:

    I am who I am, online or off. I am one and the same.

    On Aug. 18, 2007 at 03:04am, Jantar wrote:

    Funny you should ask...

    Seriously though: interesting question but how would you ever be able to judge whether we answered truthfully or not?

    Anyway, this is only the second internet site I ever contributed to (the other was a writing site too) so I haven't had much chance to develop many alternative identities.

    (I did write two novels, set in Prague. For that I used the fist person singular as the narrating voice. I also used places I knew, got permission to use the names & persons of some friends. I also invested the main character with quite a few of my own personal quirks. So while the stories I told were mostly fictional (I did use some true-life anecdotes) I did share quite a few things with this fictional 'I.' Which made things in the book, and for a while in real life, quite interesting - and at times very strange. I'm sure though I wouldn't want to repeat that kind of experiment with online versions of myself.
    I'm also not sure I could pull it off: I have a lousy memory...)

    On Aug. 18, 2007 at 06:29am, weak killer be wrote:

    quadruple life seems kind of hard to me...maybe i am just Lazy.

    well done

    On Aug. 18, 2007 at 09:14am, Radical Overkill wrote:

    You're not alone in having multiple online personalities. I think it's pretty common. I have different names, but I generally use the same one for all my serious writing, where ever it happens to be posted. Some of my old names are still hanging around simply because it's easier to keep them than change them and start over. Sometimes I pick a different name just to indicate a mood or general trend in my writing. I'm Radical Overkill here, but nowhere else.

    I bookmarked your prosopagnosia site for later reading. I've learned quite a bit about it in the last year, and discovered, to my surprise, that I'm partially faceblind. It's one of the subjects I'm interested in and will probably be writing an extensive article about it sooner or later.

    On Aug. 18, 2007 at 12:34pm, Ben Evans wrote:

    I used to participate on the Yahoo message boards in investing. There were multiple tag users that would either pump or bash a stock so I am familiar with multiple online personalities.

    Some people may like me and some people may hate me but I say what I want to say and it is me whether it is online or off. If someone doesn't like me, there is nothing that I can do about it.

    I don't see anything wrong with multiple tags as long as they are not agenda based.



    On Aug. 18, 2007 at 06:50pm, thustler wrote:

    I have two personalities online but only because some thieving, Identity stealing, dare have the same name as me scumbag managed to get thustler on youtube before I did.

    On Aug. 18, 2007 at 09:38pm, inky1457 wrote:

    I have two but used to have more. Two is enough for the moment, though I've thought about resurrecting some old ones because I'd like to write honestly about stuff that scares me to be honest about! It's the old "what would others think of me if I was totally honest about stuff I long for?" Thanks for the great post.

    On Aug. 19, 2007 at 12:31pm, telecopter wrote:

    I have four different identities for each of the aspects of my online interactions. There is very little overlap between their domains, so there is little room for self-contradiction. For instance, my troll who terrorizes right-wingnuts on their blogs doesn't travel in the same circles as my college football fanatic. They are both authentic parts of the same person, however.

    On Aug. 19, 2007 at 10:21pm, Andrew Helm wrote:

    I am me. Though I may contain many, I'm only one on the internet.

    Hence, I actually post under my real name, with no shame.

    On Sep. 15, 2008 at 10:38pm, DR. LARRY MITCHELL wrote:

    Only one identity, only one screen name-

    I've schizophrenic enough as it is.


Do you agree? Disagree? Is there something which maybe I neglected to consider? Please let me know what you think!