Editor-in-chief Mitchell Scott explores his other half in this latest Backside Column about all of our alter egos.
Whether it’s letting our freak flag fly at Shambhala Music Festival or dressing up for Halloween, distancing ourselves from our regular day-to-day personas can be a fun exercise — and an important psychological release. For a few minutes, an hour, or a crazy weekend, it can be cathartic to step outside the boundary of who we are and into a totally different skin.
I have always been compelled to do this. And for reasons I can’t explain, I’ve taken it to the next level: the alter-ego level. Over the last few years, Dieter on the Mountain has grown from me speaking with an Austrian accent to a guy I refer to in the third person to a character with his own hashtag and followers. Some people in the lift line at the ski hill call me Dieter — people I’ve never met! I find this fascinating. I never planned on having an alter ego, but after some research, I realize it’s not such a bad thing.
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Apparently the phenomenon is fairly common. We see it in the celebrity sphere quite often: think David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust, Eminem and Slim Shady, or my favourite, John C. Reilly and Dr. Steve Brule. For many of us regular folk, the alter ego is less an expansion of fame and more a way to break ties with our circumscribed selves and explore new forms of expression. An alter ego can say stuff we wouldn’t dare utter. We can dress or act oddly without repercussion, become a goofball, a voice of reason, an actor in a different play.
In a sense, we are hacking our identities. Whether we like it or not, we’re increasingly becoming mini brands. We put ourselves into a box when it comes to who we are, how we act, what we do, the things we like. Through social media, our businesses, our networks, our relationships, we’re leaving a character trail. If we’re smart, or give two shits at all, our brand needs to be responsible, consistent, intelligible, and respectful. Alter egos are a portal to step outside of those constraints. Over the years, you could say Dieter has developed his own brand. But it has nothing to do with being smart or caring. He loves sausage and mustard; that’s why he wears a yellow jacket — in case he spills the mustard. He has no problem calling people out if they leave bags of dog poop on the trails or if they boot pack skin tracks. He likes to give advice aimed at lifting people up, but in a silly way. Not to say that means Mitchell is all that serious, but upon reflection, maybe he is? In which case, thank the good God of schnitzel this dorky Austrian guy came along.