Superheroes with secret identities are by their very nature supposed to be humble. They live usually very boring lives and have little else going on other than their hero egos. So when people ask them what they do the response is likely very boring. Such an exception might be Peter Parker who supplements his income by taking pictures of himself as Spiderman in action. So he can say “I take pictures of Spiderman”. But for the most part, the alter egos of superheroes are quite boring.
I am no superhero of course, but there’s little other readily understandable examples of the cross between “Philip” and “The Weakonomist”. The nature of my work involves a lot of introduction to people and “get to know you” type activities. In them you’re of course supposed to talk about yourself and everyone always has some kind of hook. One person has been to 100 countries and another brews his own beer. Me? “Oh, I write an economics blog covering topics ranging from the financial crisis to how you can’t figure out what scent of deodorant you want under a false name that represents an ego the size of a baseball field that I would never share at work because it would be both a distraction to others and my career.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly proud of Weakonomics, but the benefits of pseudonymity have always outweighed the detriments. But those downsides make for what appears to be an otherwise very boring life. So, I need a new hook.
For me I think I’ve figured out what that hook will be, it’s not really important what it is to this audience, only that I’m hoping to hook will stick. A new hobby that is both fun, and a good conversation starter. But I can’t help but think that superheroes likely have to deal with this as well.
The other aspect of superhero psychology I find interesting is the personalities of superheroes as opposed to their human egos. Spiderman, for example, is usually portrayed as playful and cocky. But Peter Parker is reserved, shy, and lacks the confidence to ask girls out. In my case, over 4+ years “The Weakonomist” has grown into the personification of everything I know about economics and finance. Unlike “Philip”, “The Weakonomist” is also less inquisitive because he’s already at the pulpit delivering a sermon by the time anyone hears from him. “Philip” does all the legwork up to that point. “The Weakonomist” is also more sarcastic, and perhaps less judgmental than “Philip”.
As a result, “The Weakonomist’s” personality traits are similar, but not quite the same as “Philip’s”. And each has traits at different extremes that rub off on each other. Honestly, “The Weakonomist” has made “Philip” more fiscally liberal but the two actually would differ on certain policy recommendations. Where one personality starts and one stops is often difficult to discern, but thankfully the two personalities rarely talk about the same topics at the same level of detail.
Though I don’t imagine myself as a superhero, as I said before it’s the easiest relatable explanation for what has happened to the writer of Weakonomics over the last few years. This has not ever caused problems in my life, and the wording might indicate I’ve thought about this more often than I actually have; but hopefully this gives you the reader some insight into the person on the other side of these words.