This week I’ve been pondering the monsters lurking inside. Mr. Hyde was the prototype alter ego monster — unleashing the violence within the good and kind Dr. Jekyll. To one degree or another, we all have alter ego monsters, pieces of ourselves that we keep hidden away from our friends, or colleagues, or loved ones, or from everyone.
Some of these alter egos are romantic. There are secret poets, scribbling when no one is around. Some are sad, a little shameful and perfectly ordinary. I’m thinking about the huge numbers of secret eaters, consuming gallons of ice cream in private.
There’s nothing unusual or wrong about having an extra self. My cat and I wrote a book together under his name. His persona is a harmless alter ego. He doesn’t mind if I use his name — provided his bowl is full, I tickle his ears and he can sleep on the sofa next to me while I write on my laptop.
I’ve started to follow a large group of alter egos on Twitter. People posting as Dracula, Poe, Sherlock Holmes, etc. some of these post tweets drawn from the original source material others go off on their own, simply inspired by the real writers or famous fictional characters.
The problems arise when that secret self, that extra persona, that alter ego takes control…. I doubt that the person behind the Nessie tweets is contemplating a Loch Ness family reunion, but what about the Bigfoot tweeter? Is he really a big, hairy guy in the woods? And what if he is? I sort of like that. If nothing else, it’s good story material.
Now, more nefarious internal monsters are another question entirely. They make for great fiction, but I don’t want to meet them face-to-face. I’ve had my share of close encounters of the suspect, if not third, kind. People with short fuses or the ones that turn on a dime from placid to violent rage make me nervous. More nervous than the prospect of a vampire next door? Honestly, yes!