The Dark Sides of Our Digital Self: How the Internet Changes Our Thoughts and Behaviors for the Worse

Steven Handel:

The author of Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality is a psychiatrist by the name of Elias Aboujaoude who is currently serving as the director at the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Clinic at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The thesis of Dr. Aboujaoude’s new book is that the world wide web can have a very profound effect on our sense of self. In fact, it can cause a kind of “digital divide” between our digital self, how we often think and behave online, and our offline self, how we often think and behave in face-to-face, “real world” interactions.

Aboujaoude has observed this divide in many of his own patients who engage heavily in online behavior – anywhere from creating fakes profiles on dating sites to impulsive online shopping to delusional thinking about reality (to the point where individuals begin to consider the reality of virtual worlds like Second Life and World of Warcraft more real than their lives offline).