Let’s be frank. Usually, our experience with this sort of books is bad. There are many authors out there who, for various reasons, don’t get the internet and write all sorts of crappy books about why it’s bad for you
But Elias Aboujaoude is an altogether different kind of author. He’s one of America’s foremost experts in psychology and he specializes in obsessive compulsive disorders. He knows very well what he’s talking about and he’s also a cool guy. What else can you call a doctor who sees one of his patients online in Second Life and identifies himself to him using the password “shrink”?
But cool doesn’t necessarily mean upbeat. Dr. Aboujaoude’s whole book is about warning us of how the internet is turning us into worse versions of ourself: More impulsive, mean, narcissistic and deluded. Backed by research and science, he takes us to a dark world of teenage suicides, online bullying, animal torture, live suicides and snuf videos. Anyone who blogs or reads YouTube comments will feel very familiar with the concepts the doctor is writing about.
Dr. Aboujaoude makes some very good points in his book, and I strongly recommend it to parents and teachers everywhere. But Virtually You is not perfect. True, the author acknowledges the many ways in which the internet can be a force for good, but you can sense as your read it that he has a clear bias towards the “evil side” theory, and that he can sometimes get too alarmist.
This is one of those books that you disagree very often with, but that at the same time opens your eyes to things you didn’t think of before. This is why, on balance, I recommend that you do read it. It will give you a fuller understanding of the online world and its residents.