I’ve Got Consistent DID, Part 1

Sunday, August 10, 2008 Sunday, August 10, 2008

Confession: I have DID, and probably you do, too. What is it? Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is defined in Wikipedia as:

a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a condition in which a single person displays multiple distinct identities or personalities, each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment. The diagnosis requires that at least two personalities routinely take control of the individual's behavior with an associated memory loss that goes beyond normal forgetfulness

I really don’t mean that I am crazy. No, I’m referring to a situation many of us find ourselves within. We’ve got multiple identities, and it can be very difficult to manage.

How many identities do we have? At a minimum, Second Life residents have two: their Real Life identity and their avatar identity. It’s often even more complex, as some people have Alt avatars that may or may not take on another distinct identity.  People may participate in yet other virtual worlds, such as WoW or LOTR where more identities exist. As for me, while I do not game, I do operate other blogs in which I take on even more secret identities. How does one deal with all these identities? How do they affect us? According to Wikipedia, DID has the following symptoms, some of which are exhibited by certain SL residents:

  • multiple mannerisms, attitudes and beliefs that are dissimilar to each other
  • headaches and other body pains
  • distortion or loss of subjective time
  • depersonalization
  • amnesia
  • depression

Given the reality that you’ll have to handle multiple identities across multiple web based services, how do you do it? There are only a few strategies available to us:
  • Unique Identities: create a truly unique identity for each environment, in addition to your “real” identity. In practice this approach is unworkable unless you belong to only very few services.
  • Unified Identity: extend your real life identity across all the services you use as much as possible. Again, in practice this is difficult to achieve due to naming conventions and the need to be something other than your real identity in certain services. Example: Hamlet Au, many A-List mainstream bloggers
  • Blended Identities: create multiple identities, but have no barriers between them. Consequently your real life is not explicitly separate from your virtual identity. Example: Jessyka Richard
  • Consistent Identities: create a small set of distinct identities and isolate them from each other. Use one of the identities to register with different services. Example: Veyron Supercharge.

Which strategy is best for you? I think it depends on your need for anonymity. For some of us, anonymity provides the freedom from the constraints of real life to experiment with new approaches to life or the ability to speak freely. If that is the case, then the Unified or Blended strategies are not for you. You may desire separate identities, identical identities, or perhaps it doesn’t matter to you.

I believe that most people choose the Consistent Identities approach, which enables them to achieve anonymity while keeping things as simple as possible when using multiple online services. However, having chosen that identity strategy, what problems will you encounter? How can you overcome them? Let’s save the answers for Part 2!


Princess Ivory said...

True Disassociative Identity Disorder is extremely rare. One of the most significant symptoms is "that at least two personalities routinely take control of the individual's behavior with an associated memory loss that goes beyond normal forgetfulness." It is the "beyond normal forgetfulness" that is truly significant. You do not remember what you have done, when the other personality manifests itself.

Though many of us deliberately and consciously experiment with different personalities in the metaverse, we do not as a general rule forget who we are or what we have done. People who suffer from this disorder truly do suffer. It is not something I would wish upon anyone.

Princess Ivory

Moggs Oceanlane said...

I see myself as having one life but manage it with three key online identities - I use these mostly as some flimsy version of privacy and also for 'appropriateness' or to manage different aspects of communications - somethings are not really what you'd want to share with new professional contacts.

I don't tend to use my actual name online with the exception of my personal facebook account which is locked down and where my name has been used in conjunction with work related resources.

I sometimes get frustrated at juggling three online identities in multiple spaces - particularly when I want to share something across all three but mostly it works.

My three key online identities are:

:: work me - I register for work related services using this identity and it's the one I tend to share with colleagues who are purely professional contacts.

:: personal me - a jumble of stuff that has many cross overs with work me. I use this to sign up to sites in a non-professional capacity. Work people who cross the boundaries and are also friends or whom I socialise with know this identity. As my del.icio.us bookmarks are under this identity I sometimes also end up sharing it with people in the professional sphere (I like having my bookmarks in one place and some of them are not really appropriate in the professional space)

:: second life (moggs oceanlane) - used for all things second life - though again, there are cross overs. My avatar may do one or two things real me doesn't or can't do in real life but personality wise... same person. I now have work people in this space who are purely work, work people who have become dear friends, friends and my real life sisters both have accounts - one is in world a lot and the other pops in from time to time. I have more than once pondered sharing my personal identity with second life folk I've got to know - mostly to share last.fm and del.icio.us but have so far refrained.

I'm totally hopeless at compartmentalising so it's unlikely I'll ever have a totally separate identity/personality.

blah blah. *grins*

ArminasX said...

@Princess - of course, you are totally correct. I meant no offense and merely wanted to poke a tongue-in-cheek contrast as I actually have some of the symptoms - but not forgetfulness. I don't wish real DID on anyone either.

@Moggs - man, you are a complicated person! I hope you can keep on managing it. Them. You. All of you.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. I was just thinking about this myself -- I have three online identities because I have a personal blog under a pseudonym, an "official" blog under my real name, and my SL blog. It gets confusing sometimes!

The thing is that many people in SL like to separate SL from their RL, which tends to create a distinct SL identity. Even though I'm not so particular about separating the two (apart from being careful with personal information because you never know who is behind the other avatar, could be an axe murderer) I find that most people I know in SL don't want to know about my RL anyway because they don't want RL intruding in any shape or form. For example, one of my SL friends said that when she sees an avatar's profile with a RL pic under the 1st life tab, it kinda spoils things for her. She doesn't want to know what the person behind the avi looks like.

My personal blog pseudonym sounds much like Mogg's "personal me". I started out blogging under my own name but then my family were not comfortable with it due to various reasons, so I switched to a pseudonym. But most people, especially RL friends, know that it is me, so I don't differentiate between the two. It's just a different name but still me, and sometimes I forget which name I'm supposed to be using. (I have commented on friend's blogs as A, then posted a follow-up comment as B... *rolls eyes*)

Anonymous said...

I'm increasingly of the opinion that Crap Mariner was right about immersion vs augmentation and that creating new identities with the real intention of keep them separate, or even having to hide RL from SL and vice versa, is generally unhealthy and stress-inducing on people.

Exceptions are role play where the player knows it's for entertainment purposes only.

You is what you is.

Anonymous said...

You've been blogged.

Unknown said...

I of course, like my method the best. My anonymity is what liberates me and it's what I cherish the most about my play.

I give up some things I regret though. I'd like to share more personal things and do more personal things, but I have to hold them back.

It's very hard to get the toothpaste back into the tube once it's out....

Anonymous said...

I do a variation on what Crap does, where he is isfullofcrap everywhere, I am Sougent as many places as I can be. There's at least one other person that uses my nomenclature but I hold most of them. Didn't start doing this right off so I missed things like MSN and Yahoo, though I got my real name those places. I tend to keep RL and VL separate, though don't try that hard, it can be figured out. I do, however, have a tendency toward having more than one active e-mail account for both the real me and the virtual me, can be a pain to manage, I coulda planned better but who knew? They come up with this newfangled thing called "The Web" and you had to figure it out as you went along. If only I knew then what I know now....

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