Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sybil: The Multiple Personalities - revealed by my new Blackberry

Years ago when Sybil was published as a book and later released as the movie starring Sally Field, I was teased about having multiple personalities. If I had, surely I would have called on one of the others to get me through some dates. “I have no problem at all dragging across town to meet you near where you live,” one of the agreeable and accommodating personalities might have responded with more sincerity. Having a choice of personalities could have been a luxury, but like so many of us, I was limited to one.

That’s now changed. As as a function of the internet, there are now many Sybils and they’re all mine. AOL Sybil is an overzealous subscriber to political, travel, health and consumer websites, receiving regular e-mails from an absurd number of organizations including WesPac, Amazon, People for the American Way, Leahy for Vermont Committee, Human Rights Watch, the DNC, the New York Womens Foundation, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Move-On, Amnesty International, NARAL, to name just a few. She devotes a sizable portion of the day deleting lottery offers and opportunities to inherit money from Nigeria and forwards a small percentage of the jokes she receives, interrupting all that to make daily hits on the Breast Cancer site as well as its sister sites. She's the hyperactive one.

GMail Sybil is more selective and private, who receives a reasonable and manageable number of personal communications from friends. You would take her to be almost shy and retiring, certainly one who values her time.

Yahoo Sybil is competitive yet congenial, relaxed and at leisure for the twenty or so minutes a day she plays Literati, an online version of Scrabble.

Funster Sybil is the frivolous personality, a bit anxious because there’s a time limit to the game she plays, which involves rearranging letters in a celebrity’s name to create new five-letter words. She rationalizes this will help maintain her brain cells.

E-bay Sybil is a fair trader, a personality easily mistaken as bi-polar while tirelessly scavenging for low-end items that have gone out of style and are no longer available in stores; she’s the most admired of all the personalities with an amazing 100% positive feedback. “Quick to pay”, “an asset to the e-bay community” – these are but a few of the comments she’s gotten.

The personalities didn't intersect or become problematic until I got a Blackberry, which alerts you - with a loud, insistent buzz - each time an e-mail arrives. The message is always for AOL Sybil, which is why I’ve come to abhor her. “Do I really need to hear from Cheap Tickets each time an airline reduces its fares to Boulder?” I want to scold her. “Can’t MoveOn decide which ads to run without interrupting my dinner?” is another of my complaints.

I had no choice but to hit “unsubscribe” at every opportunity, sending the likes of Travelzoo, MedicAlert, Puritan’s Pride and Sherry-Lehman into cyberspace, terminating the relationship AOL Sybil has established with a seemingly never-ending list of hangers on. I and everyone within hearing range should be grateful that one of the personalities has some good sense. AOL Sybil can go to NextTag.com if she wants to price something. She’s been excessive in every way with a buddy list and bookmarks also in need of trimming. Nobody should be permitted to bookmark fireplace screen sites.

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