Many people today like me have multiple online personalities. Sometimes it is because they have different roles to play at various times during the day, and a lot of it has to do with there being many different kinds of social media, so even if we play the same role or project the same identity in each of them, we still find ourselves managing them more and more.
And let’s face it. We all have accounts for playing games or posting things in forums about body piercings or some of us just want to like Justin Bieber openly without being judged and create a Facebook fan page for him.
Whatever. It’s not really anyone’s business, but on the one hand we’re told to be careful what we do online because we may be judged for it, and on the other hand we’re tempted by all kinds of freedoms that we might want to indulge in without being judged.
When I first got into Virtual Reality, a lot of people considered it un-serious stuff. Not only that, but people were free to invent their avatars as anything they wanted. And that was back in a time when the only real protection against identity theft was security through obscurity. To a large extent, it’s still true today that many people don’t want to use their real names online.
Even when Second Life came along five years later, you weren’t even allowed to use your real last name. The last name of my Twitter handle – CodeWarrior Carling comes from a big long list of choices I had to decide from when I joined Second Life. Carling Avenue is a famous street and was a famous person where I live in Ottawa, so I combined it with the ‘nickname’ I had been using for flight simming and CodeWarrior Carling was born.
And of course anyone who has ever worked with game engines or VR building things, and in particular things about avatars, knows that you need more than one account to test anything worth testing and you also need a female avatar to test things like female clothing and hair, so Ideajuice Fullstop was created (again – I had to choose her last name from a limited list).
So including the earlier identities I had accumulated from the different Active World Universes I had been in (Active Worlds, Active Worlds Europe, Outer Worlds, Dreamland Park and several others) I was up to half a dozen online identities by 2010.
And I’m not really trying to hide anything I’m ashamed of.
So when I stopped socializing online in Second Life and switched to Twitter, I came into Twitter as CodeWarrior Carling from Second Life and nearly all my first 1,000 or so followers knew me as that. It was a way of keeping in touch with that community even though I wasn’t really ‘going there’ anymore in a virtual sense.
After a while, I realized I was mixing in a lot of local people who had no idea who or what CodeWarrior Carling or Ideajuice or Second Life was, but who I shared interests with by virtue of geography or technology interests, so I started another account called @OttawaPete to try to keep things a little saner for both them and me.
I have other identities online as well. @BrashWorksPete, @VennData, @VARWA. There’s nothing malicious about any of them and it’s kind of fun to wear many hats and sometimes it’s even necessary.
My point is that many of us online have many accounts, but it’s only multi personality disorder if the personalities are not aware of each other.
In my case we all know about each other, and we’re all OK with it.
At least I think we all know about each other….