Online Multiple Personality “Disorder” in Paganism

There are a lot of pagans out there who are very open and feel comfortable using their legal name in connection to their every move, including grove/coven web pages, Facebook profiles, blogs, etc.  If you are one of those people, that is awesome.  We need more Pagans to come out of the broom closet and proudly be themselves in every way!  Unfortunately, there are many of us, such as myself, who feel unable to do that.  At least right now.  My online persona is also my (main) magical name.  I know some traditions advocate telling nobody your magical name, but this post is not about that subject.

There are more and more social networking sites available every day.  People want to connect with me – Pagans and non-Pagans alike.  Some of the latter group are peers in college classes, fellow educators, etc.  I’m getting to make friends and acquaintances in the North Country who are wonderful people.  I’ve not developed deep relationships with all of them, so I don’t know their perceptions of religion.  Would I be rejected?  Would they be accepting but accidentally tell someone else about my religion?  Would that lead to discrimination at work?  I’m untenured, but even if I had that bit of security it wouldn’t necessarily save me.  It could completely transform my work environment and relationships.  If someone wanted to get rid of me, they could nitpick and find other reasons.  It’s happened to other people before.  There is the chance that people wouldn’t care.  Or maybe someone would realize, “Oh wow.  She’s actually a really nice, intelligent, productive member of society.  Maybe people like that aren’t all so bad…”  Maybe people would educate themselves about it, or realize they have an interest in it themselves…

At the moment, I use Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  Due to Facebook’s recent changes, I’m using Google+ more and more, but there are still plenty of established groups I want to keep track of on Facebook.  I have a few friends on Twitter but they’re all pretty distant or also members of other networks.  The nice thing about Twitter is that all my little “micro blog tweets” show up here on The Ditzy Druid.  I kind of dig that…  I might not want to write a post about something little I did that relates to my practice, but a little tweet on the right side of my blog might be of interest to a reader.  Maybe I would expand on it if asked.

I used to have two Facebook accounts – one attached to my legal name and the other my Pagan name.  There were times when I felt I had multiple personality disorder.  Friends who really know me would see two different versions of me sharing.  It felt strange and, in the end, I favored my Pagan account because it was more true to myself.  Hell, as much as I like my legal name, I also really like and identify with my Pagan name.  It makes me happy when others call me Grey.  I wish more people would, sometimes.

When I originally set up my Google+ account, I used my legal name.  Then I decided to switch to Grey Catsidhe.  Now I’m contemplating going back to my legal name just so I can have a place to befriend anyone without fear of religious discrimination…  Then Twitter would become my primary Pagan “social network” leaving FB kind of a …  leftover which would remain Pagan but largely ignored except for group updates.  Of course, this would create a new online sense of multiple personality “disorder” in my life.  It might not be so bad…  Google+ makes it easier to share with certain people, so if I want to say “Happy Samhain” there, I just make sure to choose the right audience!

I know I’m not alone in trying to figure out how social networking fits into my life.  There are so many options and some people care about staying in touch with friends more than others.  I wish I didn’t feel so fearful about job security.  Do any of my readers feel that they have multiple personalities online due to family, work, or social concerns?  I’d like to know what you think.

(FYI, I understand what multiple personality disorder actually is and how serious it can be.  I’m using it more as a metaphor.  I don’t actually suffer from it and I don’t intend to diminish the challenges people who have it face every day.)

6 thoughts on “Online Multiple Personality “Disorder” in Paganism

  1. I just like to keep the various aspects of my life sorted, as far as email goes. I have one account that is family and friends, one that is my ‘public’ one that is on my resume and I use for all online purchases, and one that is for my anime/fanfiction life. In finally coming over to FB… I had originally planned to do a similar thing, and have separate accounts, but people found me so quickly, that didn’t happen. I have my FB security pretty tight and no one at my new school is friended and my old school buddies all knew about my religious convictions anyway. I don’t feel like I have multiple personalities… just that if I get an email over on one account I know what it’s related to.

  2. I’ve been thinking a lot about this sort of thing lately. My “real” self is rather anti-social, and my real identity FB is limited to those I actually like/talk to on a regular basis. I created a FB for Amaranthine Eventide (which is my magickal name), but have really yet to build it up. I think I have maybe 6 contacts on it 😦 lol. Either way, I never hide who I am when speaking from my real identity about my magickal identity, but I often close the door when reversing it. After years of living online I learned that if there is 1 thing that is assured when interacting on the internet, it’s that people are unpredictable.

    For instance, I recently got into a Witch-war (and I will NEVER EVER get drawn into one of those again) when someone claimed I stole photos of their altar from their blog and used them on my own. When I went to their blog it didn’t exist. Now, I would never do something like that, and usually would never allow myself to get drawn into a heated argument via email with anyone, but I was so concerned that they would turn this public, thus invalidating my entire blog. I came to the inevitable conclusion that they were trolling me for their own sick enjoyment.. why? I have no idea. But either way, they threatened hexes and curses and all that lovely stuff. I came to the conclusion that anyone who is willing to go to such extremes over an invented conflict really has no power whatsoever, but having my roots in Witchcraft I can’t ignore such threats. In the end I was glad that this person didn’t know my real name, where they could have so easily tracked me down, on Facebook or elsewhere.

    It’s always conflicting for me. I’d love to integrate my two identities and make my life run more smoothly. I’d like to be able to share my blog with people I know, and not feel awkward when none of them call me Amaranthine. I guess I’m just not there yet.

  3. This is a tough one.

    As you know, I blog under one name and have a Facebook account under my legal name. I also mention my legal name on my blog.

    I struggled with this when I started my Pagan blog. I’m a professional writer, and my name is, quite literally, my trademark. Anyone who searches for me will see samples of my writing and the quality therein. I try to write well on my blog, and that could or should be just another sample of my writing. I also have a really strong attachment to my legal name, and I don’t want to relinquish it in any way — I won’t change my name when I get married, and I don’t have a magical name to which I’m attached.

    HOWEVER. What if someone considering hiring me is afraid of Druidism, Paganism, and all those other -isms I discuss on my blog? What if something I write isn’t taken seriously because it’s associated with my Pagan writings? What if I mention ADF rituals outright on Facebook and one of my many Catholic friends is upset?

    I’m still struggling with it. I’d love to be one of those fully “out” people who live their magical life and “mundane” life with the same name and the same face, but I don’t think that I and/or my friends are quite ready for it. I’m self-employed right now, so I’m able to be a little more fluid in blending my ‘identities,’ but at some point in the future I may have to alter that practice.

    I also fully understand why you use different names–if I taught or worked, as I have in the past, in a public position, I’d keep my names very strictly segregated.

    It’s not fair, and perhaps we’re perpetuating the problem by continuing the segregation, but it seems that we often have to do this for the sake of our professional and even our personal lives.

  4. This IS a hard question and I think it would be a tough call for anyone, pagan or not, when the question of ‘professionalism’ comes up. At my last job, a guy got in trouble because he said his grandmother died so he was going out of town…then he posted pictures of him and his wife on vacation. No, he shouldn’t have lied, but work doesn’t have the right to keep tabs on employees via facebook. I’ve heard lots of companies search social sites whenever a new applicant turns in a resume, and if the company doesn’t like what they see on facebook then they don’t hire. I feel the need to keep my Etsy shop a secret from some people because I sell Pagan themed items. I’d love to tell everyone about my shop, but not everyone will appreciate the witchy stuff. I don’t know how to fix that unless I have two different shops and I can barely keep up with one. Sometimes I think I should be allowed to be myself and other times I think it’s not worth the trouble when people throw a hissy fit.

  5. I started using my legal name online at Pagan blogs and elsewhere not too long ago, partly because I’m hoping to do some Pagan-oriented writing before much longer and thought it might be a good idea to have people recognize my name. 🙂 That, and, well, I’m me, and it’s just much easier to be the same “me” everywhere. But as you said, it’s easier when the risk is fairly small. I teach at at Jesuit university and have occasionally mentioned being Pagan when it’s come up, but haven’t had any difficulties and don’t expect any–it seems to be a reasonably multicultural-friendly place.

    Glad to have found your blog, anyway–just followed you over here from Bishop in the Grove. 🙂

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