How Many Little Windows Define Your World?
I’m at work and I have two computer screens on my desk, an iPad to my right, and my Android phone to my left.
Microsoft Outlook is constantly sending notifications that my work email inbox is filling up. My personal Ipad is also sending me notifications from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and eBay, and Gmail telling me my personal email inbox is filling up.
Text messages are coming in on my cellphone from my sister, my mom, two of my children, my husband, and the dentist's office with a dental appointment reminder.
It never stops.
Each screen represents a window into every facet of my world.
Each one has a different purpose and with each, I have a different persona.
In a matter of minutes, I can swing between being my professional work self to a wife, to a friend, to a purchaser, to a commenter, to a daughter, to a mom to a dental patient.
Think about how many people you interact with daily? On how many different platforms?
How many “different hats” do you wear? How many personas do you have going on in your own life?
It reminds me of that part in Ms. Doubtfire when Robin Williams is running back and forth from one table to another, trying to be Danial at one and Ms. Doubtfire at the other. At the same time, changing clothes in between table swaps. It didn’t work out too well when he caught up with himself.
With the flip of a screen, you can change your personality and conversation in an instant.
Multi-personality disorder, now referred to as “dissociative identity disorder (DID), is a clinically diagnosed psychological condition.
Those of us who use multiple devices and are involved with several social media platforms, probably don’t meet the clinical criteria for a dissociative identity disorder.
But, what are the cross-over points?
Social media has revolutionized the way people communicate and increased the number of people you can communicate with exponentially.
Within seconds, you can have conversations and communication with hundreds of people at a time, all over the world, and shift to a different persona in each conversation.
If you’re flipping back and forth between persona's you might find yourself in the middle of an internet identity crisis
When I try to juggle too many personas, I am less productive. It’s hard to focus on the task at hand and complete it when I jump back and forth.
But as a multi-tasking social media junkie, it’s hard not to do that. I have to consciously corral my brain to focus on one thing at a time.
Digital Multiple Personality Disorder.
Andrew Milne summed it up best when he describes multiple facets of one thing, in his description of how when white light enters a prism it separates into individual aspects or characteristics of the whole.
Imagine a light prism and conceptualize that a white light — one whole unity of light — enters this prism. When the light passes through the prism, the white light is separated into its component colours — red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. This dispersion is characteristic of distinct wave frequencies. Comparatively, the white light can be symbolic of a person’s real form; each of her component colours can be representative of a different aspect of her personality across multiple social media accounts or logins. — Andrew Milne, Disorder! The Phenomenon of Multiple Personalities in a Digital World
Our device screens act as prisms where we represent ourselves and refract into multiple people or personalities.
I can have a unique persona to interact with and communicate with each of my unique audiences.
Multiple personalities can be detrimental to your health and harm relationships.
If we spend our days switch between who we really are, to who we think we are, to who we want the world to see us as it creates a great deal of pressure to maintain all the personas we have created ourselves to be.
I made the mistake of subjecting myself to digital MPD overload when I created too many personas and digital connections.
I once had 4 email accounts, two FB accounts, two Medium accounts, an eBay account, an Etsy account, Instagram, Twitter, and my own website I had created that never went anywhere.
Trying to maintain all those multiple personalities is impossible. And just flat crazy.
Have you ever sent a text or email to the wrong person because you had too many conversations going on at once?
This can be particularly difficult if you are having an intimate conversation with one person and a professional conversation with someone else at the same time.
I once was texting my husband and my boss at the same time, while working on my work computer with two screens going, while monitoring my iPad at the same time.
My boss needed answers quickly my husband was being flirtatious.
When I sent my husband the answers my boss needed and asked my boss if he was up for some noogy later in a sexually explicit way, and let's just say. . .
Well, let’s not say anything else. Let’s just leave that embarrassing situation in the past.
But that mistake woke me up to the necessity of separating tasks and focusing on one thing at a time. Having multiple windows open and conversations going at the same time is a recipe for disaster!
We can only carry on some facades for so long.
Studies have shown this digital multiple-personality situation is hurting many people’s lives. It causes increased anxiety, depression, personality disorders and also affects our decisions.
Continuing to live a divided life can cause depersonalization, or feelings of being detached from your body and life. It can also cause a derealization, or make you feel that the world and people around you aren’t real.
You may find ourself engaging in behaviors that are out of character which can lead to relationship troubles or difficulties at school or work.
We all wear many hats in life. But be vigilant of how your digital worlds are affecting you. Take breaks, eliminate excessive accounts and emails. Combine personas. Pay attention to your mental well being.
While we live in a world of excess, in the digital arena, less might be more.
K.L. Bennett is a mother of 6 awesome males, music lover, photographer, avid reader, autodidact, Ninja Writer, Taurus in menopause, trauma survivor, seeker of peace.