2003/03/04
 
03:27

Figmentalism

I just received an email telling me that I was mentioned in an article about blogging in the National Post. It identified me as "Tim, the ex-Jehovah's Witness". The article was written by somebody who played an online game I designed.

When sending back a thank-you note, I couldn't decide what voice to use. Did I answer in my ex-JW persona? As the designer of the Pyroto Mountain game site the author played? On behalf of my blog? Should I mix it up and respond as the troll expert, the data conversion specialist, the arch-skeptic, the computer hacker, the self-help writer, or the annoying pedant?

When compiling that list of links above, I couldn't remember all the directions I've taken online. To save myself some effort I consulted my profile on Fark. It's rather disorienting when you have to do research on yourself, but it got me to thinking ...

There's a saying, "Tell me with whom you walk and I will tell you who you are." Thanks to the Internet, we can now walk with people all around the world. I expect that many net junkies who read this blog entry will realize that they too have many social circles online and that each one makes them a different person.

To give one example: I have been playing an online game recently (purely in the interests of research, of course) and on my team of 20 players we have one Brazilian, several Norwegians, a Finn, a Swede and three guys from the Netherlands. None of these people speak English very well, so I'm compelled to type to them in simplified language. I find it interesting that I never have to think about doing this; merely logging into the game puts me into the right personality.

I suppose that if I lived in Andy Griffith's Mayberry I'd still have many different identities, but they'd all be so similar that they'd be indistinguishable. However, since I live in cosmopolitan Toronto and hang out on the World Wide Web, the distinctions are much more obvious.

This is a round-about way of telling you about another one of my alter-egos: Tim, the Buddhist. I do believe that "self" is an illusion. But don't take my word for it; I'm just some guy with a web site. Instead, you can hear it said by some other guy with a web site. Click here if you've ever had the sneaking suspicion that you don't really exist.

Incidentally, in my last blog entry I implied that I'm a tad overweight. But who needs Jenny Craig when I can simply divide my weight by the number of personalities I have?

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