Sunday, April 26, 2009

Multiple Identities

People with different responsibilities are said to put on different hats to illustrate which responsibility is currently governing their thought. I just put on a hat when I go run around outside and chase flying plastic.
But over time I do seem to have developed two distinct names, each associated with their own personality. In retrospect, it seems like a perfectly normal and sensible thing to do, but it also kind of makes me wonder which is the actual me.
Chris - Most of you know me as Chris. This is what I call myself in front of most people. A mild-mannered, polite individual. Chris wears collared shirts on occasion and has combed his hair the same way since the 4th grade. Chris is very risk-averse, and fairly antisocial. Chris would rather sit in silence to avoid saying something controversial than engage in conversation in an unfamiliar surrounding.
Downie - This is the Ultimate Player. Originally a simple disambiguation term between other Chris's on my team, I go by Downie even if there aren't other Chris's. Downie is aggressive, competitive, and horribly foul-mouthed. Off-color, racist, sexist, and otherwise offensive jokes are common from Downie. Downie's reaction to most things are to yell, swear, or both. This includes positive and negative reactions. Downie usually wears a hat.
There is certainly some cross-pollination between these personas. Mostly it's Chris drawing from Downie's better features. Karaoke is a prime example of this, especially when I get up in front of people I don't know and confidently belt out lyrics that may or may not be in my vocal range at the top of my lungs. Chris would not do that on his own.
Unfortunately, this cross-pollination is also occurring amongst the folks who interact with the different personas. Folks who know me as Chris at work see me playing ultimate and wonder why they call me Downie. Or folks I've met from the ultimate community see me in some business-like situation introducing myself to others as Chris while in conversation they still refer to me as "Downie" out of habit. It's confusing. For everyone but me, that is.
But to me, it's not a matter of confused identity or a rapid change of personal preference. I'm called by each of these names for a reason. Each represents a different person I bring to the surface to deal with the current situation, or put another way, each represents a different part of me that I share with the world when needed. While I've had way more names than just these 2, they're the ones that have stuck around long enough to develop distinct personality traits.
Also, for the record, Chris will respond if you call him "Downie", but Downie won't respond if you call him "Chris". Mostly because I still assume you must be talking to someone else, because I'm Downie right now, bitch.