An argument for multiple personalities.

On the way to work this morning I heard this story regarding a book about facebook. The author interviewed Mark Zuckerberg (It seems appropriate to link to his facebook account) and mentioned one point that caught me: Apparently Mr. Zuckerberg believes that all people have one identity. My understanding of his position is that all people should have one face they show the world, one unified approach/social persona/whatever for all the people who interact with them. This is apparently part of his drive for facebook, and an argument for why you should use it to link information not only for friends, but coworkers, business partners, and absolutely everyone and anyone you might come in contact with.

While I have not read the book I must say: codswallop. Claptrap, even. I’d go so far as to say bunkum (For those of you wondering, yes, I did look up synonyms for this post. Do you see the research I do for you guys?). Speaking for myself, I have distinctly different personalities dependent not only on whose company I am in, but the situation and environment. While my underlying self does not change, the external demeanour I show the world changes radically in order to suit my needs. In this way I can maintain relationships with deeply divergent groups of people. While there is a core self that does not change, there are other aspects that do. Not everyone needs to interact with me in the strongly pedantic and literal fashion in which I relate to my co-workers about work. My relationship with my parent’s is conducted in a normal speaking voice and with few if any exclamations. I enjoy spending time with people with whom I would never, ever indulge in ad hominem attacks because with them it’s not a necessary part of banter, but a hurtful attack that does nothing but derail and damage our friendship and conversations.

I’m not even going to touch on the need for space between paramours.

I think as gamers we have an interesting perspective on this subject. On the cast we have mentioned that most people tend to play characters that are alike in some ways; you might call it that player’s signature. But beyond such similarities we play many and varying personas, some as outlets of ourselves, some as explorations of who(m?) we are not, as well as other reasons. We revel in multiple identities in our fantasy worlds, because they provide space for us to truly, completely express ourselves. People are far, far more complicated than a single identity could truly give vent to: at times paradoxical (hypocritical, even), often conflicted, mostly expressing ourselves in a way that best suits our situation at that moment. To suggest that we should try to be all these parts of ourselves at once at the same time invites confusion, incomprehensibility and even madness.

While I appreciate Mr Zuckerberg’s apparent desire for understanding and comprehension between people, I think it is deeply mislead. People not only are but need deeply complex and ridiculously plural in natures: to try to boil that down to a single identity is a waste of time and a disservice to humanity. The alternative approach, to encapsulate all the vagaries and variation of a person in one go, would end up with an unintelligible morass of detail that it would take years of study to comprehend. let people be different to each other, and complicated, and hidden. We understand each other better that way, and it takes less work than people trying to pretend they’re always the same person.

2 thoughts on “An argument for multiple personalities.

  1. As a gamer this drives me nuts. As a sociologist it drives me BATSHIT CRAZY. The entrity of my field revolves around the idea that human beings are, like you said, plural. We are not who we are all the time. You are different with your friends than with your family. Your sex life probably doesn’t enter all that much into your office job (unless you have an office job which is, somehow, directly tied to your sex life). This is simple reality.

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