The Internet is an inescapable part of our lives nowadays. Many people use it to find information, stay connected with friends and family, and, perhaps foremost, to entertain themselves. But what is the effect of the Internet upon us as individuals? Psychiatrist Elias Aboujaoude explores that question in Virtually You.
I found this book absolutely fascinating! The influence of technology upon individuals is undoubtedly one of my favorite subject topics, and, when I came across this book, I had to read it. Aboujaoude presents his concerns in a series of interconnected chapters; his main focus is the influence of people’s online persona on their expectations and behavior offline, and, as a result, covers topics such as human cognition and romantic relationships and endeavors.
I appreciated this book for a couple of different reasons. First of all, Aboujaoude has written a quality summary of the research into this subject matter that gets people to think about their relationship to the Internet. In each chapter, he provides summaries of the research and experiences related to such chapter’s subject. Despite its use of extreme examples, Virtually You made me reflect on my own Internet use habits and offline behavior. Some of the stuff Aboujaoude brings up is scary, but I think users need to think about what the influences of technology are upon themselves. Aboujaoude hints that we are a cross-roads, and that we need to figure out how to synthesize the Internet more effectively into our culture. I couldn’t agree more.
His discussion of the Internet’s effect on human thought processes was especially interesting. His discussion on the Internet’s effects upon human memory was especially interesting. As a result, one of the questions I found myself asking was how would I remember this book in the future? Would I remember it as well as I would have before I started using the Internet? Overall, Aboujaoude’s ideas and presentation are well done, although I took issue with his early descriptions of the development of an individual online personality, if only because I would argue that an individual’s online behavior is simply a different way of self-presentation (admittedly not always a very good one), rather than an entire new personality.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you’re at all curious or concerned about this topic, check this book out!