Recent Tweets in the eMotion Cafe

Thursday, February 17, 2005

MOPD - Multiple Online Personality Disorder

I'm sitting at my table this afternoon, finishing up on an email to our Web Services program team congratulating them on integrating another customer, and an eMail pops into my Inbox.

Header: "Hey MyRealName"
Sender: ""
Name: "partofmyavatarname partofmyrealname"


Porn? Spam? Publisher's Clearinghouse Winning Notification? Ex That I Want to Hear from? Ex That I'm Afraid to Hear From?

Eenie. Meenie. Miny. Moe. Catch an internet idiot by his toe.

So, I reply:
"Don't know who this is. But, if I like you then please reply. If I don't like you then please go away. Thanks. I think."

A few moments later, I get a reply saying:
"Hey.. it's me AvatarNameRealNameNickName."

Now, the great mystery has been revealed. Which is a Good Thing. But, the Bad Thing is that this is the third time this has happened in like a month.

Which leads me to the question: At what point does a person merge their multiple online personalities?

Now, let's first recognize that some people have like two or three Instant Message (IM) names or accounts with the same IM service. Then, add to that the number of other IM names or accounts with other IM services. Then, add to that the number of eMail accounts a person has with a number of Email services - for both home and work and whateverelse. Then, add to that number the number of UserNames for online gaming and chat communities - for each one they have an account with. Finally, presumably, they have a real name that someone other than themself gave them in Life that they will generally answer to. Dude. That's a lot of names to remember someone by.

Then, lets recognize that these names are generally relative to the persona in that specific online area (considering who they'll be interacting with) that they generally wish to project and assume that people take on different personas based on what online community or service their "in" at that moment - across many moments in their online life.

So is this even good for the human psyche?

Is it healthy for us to be able to be anyone or anywhere at any time with no real consequences? I mean, in the online world, if someone gets mad at you, you can easily go into "hiding" or stealth mode, create a new screen name, put that person on "ignore", just click the little "x" on that window or client, or just don't log into that place anymore. No consequences. No understanding of the pain or reality your games play with others who might be approaching things more realistically or in just a different way.

In the real world, if a person causes another person pain, there's generally some kind of consequence. For example, if someone gets mad at you in the real world, they yell back. Things escalate. There's a real need... for survival and socialization purposes.. to understand how to defuse a situation. So, your behaviors change and you work your way out of the situation. If you threaten someone in the real world, it's the same deal - except maybe the police get involved and maybe you end up in some court system discussing the civil consequences of your actions and accepting whatever judgement is deemed appropriate by a group of your peers. If you hurt someone's feelings in the real world, they get this "hurt" look and they get quiet and they sometimes cry - and you have to look that person in the face again, either right there or later. If you fall in love in the real world, you end up making sacrifices and commitments and you end up working through the bad times and usually logging on to some online community to vent to some random stranger.. but I digress.

In the online world, the lack of consequences could lead to developing some unhealthy coping behaviors and patterns. I mean, the only defense mechanism you really need is your mouse and the ability to click on a little "x" somewhere. The only online Justice League is the Moderator or Some Guy Reviewing Logs & Transcripts (if someone complains loud enough). When you fall in love in the online world, you just log on a little more often and brush up on your sexy voice phone skills. In every case, there's no real commitment.

So, how can all this be healthy? How can living in many worlds under many guises with many names with many circles of friends with many expectations of "who you are", without any kind of personal contracts to honor, be good for the soul?

I have my thoughts.. but I'm open to answers. But, when you reply, could you reply with this format:

Real Name:
Yahoo Name:
AOL / AIM Name:
There Name:
SL Name:
TSO Name:
MSN Name:
Blogger Name:

I just need to cross-reference this information to know who I'm talking to. Thanks, in advance.


Dr. H said...

More later, but...
REAL NAME: Do you even know the answer to this?
AOL / AIM Name: SayHelloTo{RealFirstName}
There Name: StarBryte
SL Name: (none)
TSO Name: (none)
MSN Name: (none)
NickName: too many to mention
Blogger Name: Dr. H

Echele said...

So Ed, whats all your names????
I myself have tried to use only one which started out as roo-mail, get it? Ya know like e-mail but it is roo-mail..then on there, people couldn't go around calling me roo-mail so I changed it to b/c thats the way my bf son pronounced my name and 2 it goes with the online thing, hence the E in Echele...since then I have tried to consolidate b/c trying to give someone roo-mail as an e-mail, people, even in this day and age don't get the hyphen....anyway....but I know what you mean. I once met a guy that had 3 avies, and that was just in there..wonder where else he is online...Hmmm.

Dr. H said...

Sometimes I feel it's difficult to disagree with your take on some issues, because I may get cast aside as defensive for the mere act of disagreeing, but here I go, anyhow.

I want to first say that I only have one screen name for each interface I use. It's not like I am going into There with different identities.

I also think my personality would be multifaceted (as would everyone's) regardless of whether I changed names based on the interface. I don't think I act differently as StarBryte or Dr. H or twinklingeyes... I think I'm the same person, with many sides. I think I talk differently on my blog because it's a monologue. Heck, you have to admit that you act differently on your blog than you do in There. Even though you have the same name in multiple interfaces, you still may act inconsistently. All people act inconsistently (which is not a fault, just part of life).

This, however, was my favorite question: "Is it healthy for us to be able to be anyone or anywhere at any time with no real consequences?" I think this issue is somewhat separate from the multiple names issue (though not entirely). I agree that a problem with online interactions is the ease of shutting the window when the person you're interacting with might be emotionally involved. The social norms are different, and they're not necessarily the most supportive environment. I think I try to be supportive of people online (like not hiding or ignoring people, not acting stealth-like, actually responding to people, etc.), but I know I am guilty of engaging in more conversations than might be appropriate once in a while -- although I do make efforts to avoid this and focus the attention on whoever I am actually with in the moment (like not IM'ing lots of people on yahoo at once, etc.).

I do not have multiple names in order to hide from people. I do not think I am a different person in the different settings, at least, not any more than anyone else is. I suppose the multiple names could be confusing, but different contexts bring out different sides to people regardless of the name they go by.

Echele said...

Oh yes I also wanted to say that in some cases and maybe alot more than a few, people may have many different names b/c when they create a name, it may not be availible and I for one choose not to have numbers after my name...I just want it to be my name, thats it. I do have a yahoo name with numbers but that was created a long time ago and since I have become way more puter savvy. I see what you are saying though...the answer is in the mind of the individual person and only they know what their intentions are.

Dr.H, I don't think Ed would ever hold anything against you , let alone a difference in opinion, not everyone agrees on the same things. Makes the world more interesting so put your views out there and make people think for themselves. The world would be pretty boring if we were all just drones agreeing on everything. Hats off hon!

havsumhope said...

First, off, I love the thoughts and thanks for taking the time to share.

When I read the responses, I'm getting the sense that my post somehow was directed at each of you - although it wasn't directed towards any one person at all. I've been online since the early days of Prodigy and AOL - almost 10 years now -with chat and IM and first name was "havsumhope" and I've stuck with it. During that 10 years, however, I've run into all sorts of people and it most of what I wrote was directed towards experiences I've had online during that time.. not towards one particular incident or person... it's just that now, with online communities growing exponentially, it seems that while the naming conventions vary, communities are being built for specific purposes.. and people adopt them and create personas in them in order to explore lifestyles that the consequences might be too harsh for were they to explore in real life... hope that helps.. but no offense was intended - even if a specific contact ocurred with you that may have reminded me of those thoughts for so long.

I'll try to answer each, clarify, or add detail...

-aol was havsumhope
-yahoo is havsumhope
-there is havsumhope
-aim can't be havsumhope cause i cancelled aol & they're related so it's havsumhope02 i think, but i'm rarely on there.
-blog is havsumhope
-googlemail is havsumhope
-real name is ed
i only have one account in each of them.. 1 gaming (there); 1 email i use (yahoo); and 1 IM client i use (yahoo).

-do i give the impression that I'm not accepting and that I'd cast anyone aside because of a difference of opinion? if so, I've done a poor job of representing myself as the only offense worthy of banishment from Hav is lying or dishonesty - as that creates unhealthy illusions and misrepresents the reality of something.

honest communication is not only appreciated, but sought, as it challenges me to look deeper or change my perspective. I would think that in our conversations, I've demonstrated that. I'm hoping, at least.

to all...

i do agree that social context can define a situation and thus, the type of communication that occurs. i do think that people choose their identies based on who they perceive the audience to be and how they want to be perceived in that situational context / environment. i think that's where we start to go "wrong" as we begin to hide from parts of ourselves and some people in our lives. i do think that some people hide behind identities and technology and disappear when it's easy.

but, most of all.. i think its ok if the naming conventions are different, as long as you're the same person (with many sides perhaps) consistently with everyone. once we start morphing into being someone that we think someone else wants vs being who we are (for a number of reasons), things never end up right.

but, i think that's the case "in" or "out" of the game.


Dr. H said...

sometimes when we've talked about things, I feel like I have said my honest feelings to you, and you have come back and said that I was being defensive. this has happened more than once. several times, actually. so, now I hesitate a bit at times when I talk with you. I can get over that, though. I want to get over that, and I appreciate what you said in your comments regarding this issue very much. Thanks for persisting in talking through some of this with me. :)

Echele -- you seem awesome. :)

Echele said...

Wow! Thanks Dr. H, I didn't see that compliment many months have gone by??? LMAO So here is one for you. I think your expression and level of understanding in your responses are just fabulous. I admire people who can express theirselves with such articulation, you know exactly how they were feeling or exactly what they understood. Me? I am all over the place and I suck at it...worse than the suckiest suck that ever sucked. LMAO ...anyway, that's why I like to read Hope's blog...the expression...that and I am too impatient to browse random blogs looking for it. Ciao.