Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality

Jun 1, 2011

In recent years, scientists have looked at how the internet affects our brains, but how is it affecting our personalities? In his new book, Stanford University psychiatrist Elias Aboujaoude documents the disturbing phenomena that few medical professionals have written about, or understand, but that any casual observer has noticed. Whether it’s obsessive-compulsively checking e-mail or worrying to the point of paranoia about identity theft, the internet has spawned new forms of behavior. It also emphasizes equally hard-to-control character traits, like narcissism and grandiosity, which, whether in rekindled romances facilitated by Facebook friendships or “flaming” rage on a blog, take on new meanings in one’s digital life. As video poker and one-click shopping elevate impulsive tendencies and avatars in cyber-universes allow for the creation of alternate personalities, Aboujaoude explains how the way an individual functions in cyberspace impacts his or her behavior in the real world.

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