A penetrating examination of the insidious effects of the Internet on our personalities - online and off.
Whether sharing photos or following financial markets, many of us spend a shocking amount of time online. While the Internet can enhance well-being, Elias Aboujaoude has spent years treating patients whose lives have been profoundly disturbed by it. Part of the danger lies in how the Internet allows us to act with exaggerated confidence, sexiness, and charisma. This new self, which Aboujaoude dubs our "e-personality", manifests itself in every curt email we send, Facebook "friend" we make, and "buy now" button we click. Too potent to be confined online, however, e-personality traits seep offline, too, making us impatient, unfocused, and urge-driven, even after we log off.
Virtually You uses examples from Aboujaoude's personal and professional experience to highlight this new phenomenon. The first scrutiny of the virtual world's transformative power on our psychology, Virtually You shows us how real life is being reconfigured in the image of a chat room, and how our identity increasingly resembles that of our avatar.
The internet has infiltrated every aspect of our lives and we can no longer ignore it or get on without it. Reading everything I can find on the relationships between the internet and its impact on people behaviorally and psychology, I added Elias Aboujaoude’s “Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality” to the stack. I have been pleasantly surprised by the volume and greatly rewarded for reading it. A psychiatrist, Aboujaoude aptly relates what is known about the effects of the internet on behavior and presents it in a way easily accessed by anyone. This is the first volume that I have come across that discusses, for example, the difference between the personalities and identities of persons deeply experiencing virtual environments. Psychological implications are covered from a number of perspectives. Aboujaoude admits that the internet and our “virtual selves” are here to stay. His book cautions readers to pay attention to the implications of these new relationships. This book is well written, an excellent orientation, and the reading of Teddy Canez is excellent. The only caution I would add is that this literature is nascent and formative in nature. Aboujaoude tells you what you need to know at this point. I hope he will follow up with other books and writings soon.
17 of 19 people found this review helpful
This is one of the few books I had to force myself to listen to after the first chapter. It feels like a Luddite talking about how the Internet and everything related to it, from the iPhone to Facebook to Second Life to emails etc.
What I take from this book is the author looking down at Internet users, talking about virtual personalities attacking and taking over our real life personalities. Granted, some people are addicted, but the way the book is written, everyone with a Facebook account might as well be narcissistic, everybody who sends emails might as well be inconsiderate jerks and everybody who reads news online is isolated.
Full of outlier stories, the book speaks of addicts and socially troubled people in such ways as to make people believe that everybody online has psychological problems. Save your credit.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
This book has nothing to offer, especially in audiobook form. The Narrator is NOT reading sentences, phrases, and ideas. He is simply reading words. It's as if he's learning how to read so he pauses before big words or reads common phrases quickly while other phrases are disjointed. I'll give him credit for consistency though. He is consistently horrible. The unnatural pauses are just small enough that you can understand the text, but so annoying that after a while the book is completely unlistenable.
Fine, the narration is bad; that's not the author's fault. So how does this book stand up on content? At best, it is an outsider's misunderstanding of the virtual world. At worst, it is a alarmist attempt to dissuade us from using the internet by telling horror stories. The author is a mental health professional specializing in OCD and compulsive disorders. By the very nature of his job, he sees lots of people with unhealthy relationships to the virtual world. He uses these extreme examples to try and prove that we are all in danger of losing our identities online. He points to changes in communication style, online dating, online gambling, online shopping habits, and our narcissistic tendencies on blogs or social networks. I concede that problematic behavior exists online. And I concede that some people take things too far. But instead of pointing to healthy online behavior and the advantages of moderation, the author seems to be saying that we are all doomed to acquire some form of mental compulsion or psychosis from using the internet.
In the end, there is no redeeming quality to this book, in audio or paper form. The narration is the worst I've ever heard out of the hundreds of books in my library, and the author is an outsider who thinks the internet can only bring bad. I just want to shake him and say "Please don't write anymore books about the internet. You don't know what you're talking about! Stick to books about OCD and Clinical Depression."
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Is there anything you would change about this book?
I would have liked to hear more anecdotes from the author, rather than a psychiatrist explaining technical details of internet.
The author hopes that he will make the reader more self-conscious of his internet behavior. Mission accomplished. I will never think of "on-line" in the same way. This book provides a comprehensive overview of the pitfalls of the internet and should be required reading for anyone who uses or knows someone who uses the internet. I gave it four stars, however, because the narration is painfully slow.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful
This is a really interesting book from someone who has clearly thought a lot about the subject. It's just a shame it appears to be narrated by a robot. Seriously, when I first started playing it, I thought they had used a computer and synthesised words, which I suppose would fit with the topic.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful