Anyone who uses the Internet and social media.
While training as a resident, Elias Aboujaoude spent weekends assisting Susan Taylor, an attentive, beloved doctor who ran a small clinic in California. One night, Dr. Taylor had to leave town on short notice, and Elias agreed to cover for her. An emergency came up, and Elias called Dr. Taylor to request her computer log-in information to access her files. Her username: DoctorSusan. Her e-mail password: DoctorBitch.
In the no-holds-barred public forum of the Internet, many of us create alternate selves - more assertive, more efficient, sexier, bolder. Drawing on years of clinical experience as a Stanford psychiatrist, Elias Aboujaoude details the irrevocable damage done to our offline self by our online alter ego, or “e-personality.”
In Virtually You, his timely and disturbing book, Aboujaoude demonstrates how the e-personality can be as self-destructive as it is alluring. What drives the users of a message board to encourage insult, then passively watch a man take his own life in front of a webcam? Or a suburban mother to torment a neighboring girl with broken promises from a boy she fabricated online, leading to the girl's suicide?
Aboujaoude delves beyond such stories to explore die subtle behavioral changes that occur in nearly every online user. With the Web influencing all facets of contemporary life, the line between the virtual and the real is disappearing, leaving behind a void with uncertain rules and little or no restraint, and an alienated state of being that Aboujaoude calls “virtualism.” With innumerable bits of information immediately accessible online, we’ve become used to effortless knowledge. Offline, however, we become impatient, entitled, unfocused, and impulse-driven. Skimming articles and Wikipedia entries, we lose the ability to read and think critically; the “illusion of knowledge” replaces actual mastery. We rack up Facebook “friends” and, in the process, become uncomfortable interacting in person. Because of the perceived ease of finding significant others on tailored dating sites, we neglect working on our relationship problems. And we do it all at the expense of our privacy, disseminating along the way valuable personal information, the loss of which Aboujaoude likens to a hemorrhaging of personality.
Virtually You is an urgent, necessary portrait of our contemporary online - and offline - condition. Packed with acute psychological insight and sociological analysis, it exhorts us to carefully examine a medium that enables us to avoid contemplation, diffuse attention, and obsess over gratification.
For more information, and to read reviews on this book visit: