[Home]WhatIsMultiplicity

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In a deep cultural sense, multiplicity is the PostModern rejection that deep down, there is a "genuine self" that motivates each person to act, whether that person is consciously aware of this or not. Instead, we all have multiple selves that we can shift and change and flex and adapt given the situation and our moods and the phase of the moon. Moreover, we have the moral imperative to do this consciously in order to succeed in our lives. From gopher://gopher.well.sf.ca.us:70/00/Publications/MONDO/sandys.txt...

Allucquere Rosanne Stone: ... [T]he advantage of multiplicity as a political strategy is that it's a way of disrupting the idea that people are single personalities, which is a method of political control.

Stephen Hawking is one of the examples of that. Because he uses a voice prosthesis, his vocal presence is electronic whether you're standing next to him or on Mars, so you're not sure where his edges are. Multiplicity is another way of not being sure where people's edges are, because there are a lot of them in the same physical envelope, and you're never really sure which one you've got. Politically it's a complete no-no -- when you name a person you've named all of them. There's only one identity. All the others are bogus, and that's a specific political strategy. It's a way of nailing people down, and controlling them. The idea of creating the illusion that everybody is singular is a way of producing a particularly manageable, tractable kind of identity. But nobody is really singular.

Dave Demaris: The amazing thing to me is that people refer to obvious collectivities, large organizations, as persons....

In a shallower sense, one may still believe that there is a true personality lurking beneath, but we all put masks and costumes and SockPuppets in front of us when dealing with different people and situations. To those Modernists, these personae would all be lies: while I may not really like you, I may wish you had a nice day. To the rest of us, it's just part of our day.

This is even easier online, because we get to craft our identities all that more explicitly, and engage in IdentityPlay?.

No: this is again just a natural part of daily lives. I act differently with the Golf and Tennis Club than I do with my poker buddies. Similarly, I act differently on MeatballWiki than on the IRC channel #hax0r.

In MeatSpace, space and time separate aspects of identity (cf WalledIdentity). We are liberal with the use of language when playing poker in recognition that those who might be offended by such usage are not present. Space separation does not work as strongly in online communities because most content is public. Similarly, comments are forgotten over time in MeatSpace, allowing our identities to evolve, while in many online communities they are retained long after they are written. PersonaTourism is one way around these differences, allowing a similar degree of multiplicity online as is present in MeatSpace.

What separates the two cases is your online identities are not necessarily connected to you. Unlike the RealWorld, you can separate your personae from each other, whereas in the RealWorld, they are all identified with your individual identity. Once again, though, all your online identities are still you acting and are reflections on you (and your personality, if you indeed have one). Consequently as people routinely find out, even if you use a PenName, it's not hard to find out who you really are just by finding the common patterns.

We inevitably end with the deeper social question. Is it true that you have a singular characterizing personality? Or if that's false, can (and should) you use your indefinition to your advantage? When reading opinions about OnlineIdentity, keep these motivating questions in mind.


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