“Virtually You” Quotes

I finished reading a book called Virtually You yesterday, and just thought I’d share some quotes that stood out the most for me. The author is Elias Aboujaoude, MD.

Before I start, we know technology and particularly the internet is a great asset to our lives. (That’s how you’re reading this anyways!) This book, though, examines the darker side of the technology.

If you can take a little cringing, critical self-examination and know how to put your values aside briefly as you read about new ones– this book is then a must-read! But if you don’t like moving out of your comfort level, or if you simply don’t care about this topic (it’s totally valid, by the way, there’s no law that says you must like every topic Aya Salah happens to like) then maybe this book is not for you.

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Alright, here we go. These quotes are all over the place, and totally random. Some might not make sense because its context is not included. But I hope you get something out of it! It’ll give you a vaaaaaaague idea about what the book is all about. 🙂

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CHAPTER 2: Delusions of Grandeur

“But must one rain of people’s dreams? Would we have visionaries, idealists, and artists if dreamers ceased dreaming? Why call what they engage in “grandiosity” and give it a clinical tinge? To the extent that the virtual world enriches our dream life, it can enrich our real life, too.” (67)

“Never mind that so many of our online pursuits are hardly imperial– in our new value system, it is better to be a passing meme than an unknown soldier.” (67)

CHAPTER 4: Ordinary Everyday Visciousness

“…We can hide behind a veil of anonymity that we think shields us from the guilt and blame that should accompany bad behavior.” (98)

“The legal vacuum feeds the moral vacuum, which further facilitates the emergence of people’s dark tendencies” (101).

“This finding contradicts one alternative hypothesis– that only children who are already aggressive (either by nature or nurture) will have problems– and points to a certain “helplessness” when it comes to the spread of violence offline, regardless of the innate characteristics of the players. As far as the less attractive side of virtual life is concerned, it would seem as though we are all more alike than different.” (105)

“One reason our morals change is because the virtual world can desensitize us to what is wrong. Starcevic talks about how violence no longer disgusts us to the same degree it once did…. Less turned off by it, we will be more prone to engage in it.” (106)

CHAPTER 5: Impulsivity

Concerning obsessive online shopping: “Can out-of-touchness with money come from out-of-touchness with who we are in the virtual world?” (128)

CHAPTER 6: Infantile Regression & The Tyranny of the Emoticon

The pregnant ‘K’ of texting, signifying “I have nothing to say but God forbid you should think I am ignoring your message” (Menand). (150)

“Speechless moments and reflective uh-, er-, ah- moments– breaks in speech that point to cognitive deliberation and a process, called thinking, taking place somewhere in the cortex– have been deleted.” (150)

“The ‘pregnant’ pause has been digitally aborted.” (William Safire, 150)

“Yet despite their significantly increased breadth, emoticons are still not very good at emoting.” (152)

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CHAPTER 6: Love and Sex
Recalibrated

Concerning online dating: “There are, indeed, plenty of fish in the sea. The problem, seemingly more than before, is the sharks.” (188)

CHAPTER 8: The Illusion of Knowledge

“Words: We have lost patience for their complexity; do not find them worth supporting financially or in other ways; and do not think of them as something to capture and hold on to anymore.” (190)

“Regardless of age group or background, and across a host of information goals, people seem to be clicking and flicking their way through the virtual stacks of cyberspace, searching horizontally rather than vertically, and spending more time circuitously looking for answers than actually reading them.” (191)

“In fact, the Internet bestows on many of us a false mastery of knowledge as it convinces us that we are more qualified, educated, or more mature than we really are.” (198)

“The quick online information fix, dispersed over innumerable subjects, means that many of us are learning less and less about more and more– a process that, taken to the extreme, will leave us knowing nothing about everything.” (212)

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CHAPTER 10: The End Of Privacy

“Mature involvement with another person can happen only if one has attained self-identity– if one is comfortably autonomous and happy in his relationship with himself.” (237)

“True engagement with the other is the result and test of firm self-delineation.” (Eris Erikson, 237)

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CHAPTER 11: Marking Time, Making Memories

“Anthony Wagner and his research group used functional MRI to prove that memory centers in the brain can strengthen important memories only if they weaken or suppress irrelevant ones” (260).

“Simply put, in our hyperconnected, always “on” culture, true time off does not exist in the practical sense anymore” (268).

“Our e-personality cannot tolerate down time… Yet idle time, when the browser is shut down, the smart phone is out of charge, and the other electronic gadgetry is silenced, is necessary to our ability to reflect on the world around us and our ability to self-reflect” (268).

“We seem to be losing the ability to enjoy things or immerse ourselves fully in them, one at a time and for a prolonged period of time.” (271)

BEAUTIFUL: “I know I am part of a story that starts long before I can remember and continues long beyond when anyone will remember me. I sense that I am alive at a time of important change, and I feel a responsibility to make sure that the change comes out well. I plant my acorns knowing that I will never live to harvest the oaks. I have hope for the future.” (W. Daniel Hillis)

CHAPTER 12: Virtualism, Or The Art of Being More Real Than Real

“Facebook status updates that don’t tell us anything significant but still pull us back to the screen, tweets of the “pointless babble” variety, “K” text messages we feel compelled to send, and so on. All these seemingly inescapable interruptions impinge on our reality and our offline life and make it so we feel constantly tethered to, and enmeshed with, our virtual lives” (278).

“Which raises the following big question: What if the virtual world, rather than making us more bellicose, immature, and impulsive, is simply allowing our true instincts to return?” (280)

“Could the new you be, in a sense, more real than the real thing? Is e-personality more true to our core?” (280)

“Beside the established economic, educational, entertainment, and civic realities that are urging us to log on– indeed, before all of these– there exists a psychological being busy meeting his social and emotional needs even as he unknowingly creates new ones” (287).

“I have tried to offer a word of caution, and exhortation to think before we click, to proceed in the virtual world with increased caution, knowledge, and, above, self-knowledge.” (288)

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–A.S.

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