However, pure anonymity doesn’t allow extended RolePlay because there is no persistent sense of identity.
What is identity?
I’ve been discussing it as though it were a given - that a person was who they were and one either knew it or not (and if not, then they were anonymous). But anonymity means with no name. A person that constructs an identity for themselves other than their hitherto “true” self is not anonymous - they’ve merely created a distinct persona for themselves - one for which they may not provide obvious connections to other persona(s) they may have.
I was led to think this in response to some of the comments on Read/Write Web’s Weblogs as Avatars: some thoughts. Specifically the idea (offered by Ravages) that the creation of a blog is the creation of a persona - specifically the creation of a “legitimate” alter-ego.
In essence, what I think is being gotten at is that it is a sense of play with identity and encouraging a sense of play (according to Richard ) “helps creativity flow through the system“.
But why “play” with one’s own notion of self? For the reasons that we RolePlay.
What impact does this have on “the system” ?
It merely reinforces that it is a dynamic system.
in the fractal or holographic view, the myriad aspects of humans and the myriad aspects of “the system” (the blogosphere) come together in a sort of tapestry of things, each clearly being a part of the other, and yet clearly shaping and shaping the other in a variety of ways.
Distinctions shape us because the distinctions that we make between self/other are the distinctions that we make between subjective/objective. These same distinctions are the ones that we make between “humans” as “us” and “the blogosphere” as “the system”. Yet, instead of an all-or-nothing approach to the presence/absence of distinctions, we can allow them to be there partially - just like trying to completely draw every last detail of a fractal would be infeasible, so too, delineating distinctions between self and other, if allowed to be seen as involving the complexity of a fractal, would also be infeasible. It might explain why people continually struggle with notions of identity.
(for more on fractal blogosphere)
So now I’m thinking that these creation of “false” blog personas are not bad at all, but are merely people allowing a different facet of their personality to show through. In fact, it is actually the much milder expression of what happens when a person chooses to “reinvent themselves”. By assuming different blog identities and trying them all out, it enables more rapid experimentation and (hopefully) discovery of one’s “true self” by (hopefully not exhaustively) trying out a bunch of “possible selves”.
In computer programming language design, there is a principle called the 0-1-many principle. The idea is that for any “thing” we should either have zero, one, or an arbitrary number of it. An example might be function exit points - in Prolog this is arguably zero (because we don’t exactly have functions per se in Prolog) - in Pascal this was to be just one - and in C this is arbitrary (we can have a return statement anywhere we want).
So too, it seems like some people have this same principle in terms of identity. Having zero identities would be pure anonymity to everyone. Having one identity would be the stereotypical “normal” of a person who is as they present themselves and chooses to present themselves in just one way. Having multiple identities would, back in the old days, be the stereotypical multiple-personality disorder because it would be irreconcilable with the reality of their environment, but now-a-days, as people can be in so many different environments, perhaps even simultaneously, it becomes almost natural - one persona on a forum/message-board/blog, another via IM, another “in person”, etc….
My understanding of what that meant was through the joining or unioning of our different selves. The classic example that I offer to some of my yoga students is that in something like working out at the gym or doing aerobics, there is an intentional disassociation between the mind and the body. This disassociation is exemplified in phrases like “no pain, no gain” and such. In yoga, however, (at least in the style/school that I’ve learned and now teach), the first rule is that there is to be no pain - if it hurts, don’t do it. Tension, yes, pain, no. I presume this is because we don’t want a disassociation between the mind and the body - instead we want them to be unioned together.
Instead of seeing the body as the slave of the mind, the two are allowed to work in harmony. We take time out for our mind to listen to our body to see how it feels/felt about what we just did. In some people’s yoga practice it is even common to listen to the body for direction on what asana to do next.
It is not just the mind and the body, but the heart as well. One yoga teacher I had was quite aware of this sort of connection and believed that was quite an intentional part of yoga - progress in yoga also meant dealing with one’s emotional baggage too.
My point is that my understanding of yoga is as a philosophy that aims for one-ness at it’s core.
Thus, in the 0-1-many options of identity that the modern age presents to us, I must feel compelled to advocate the one identity option.1f2c