Are Online Actions Leading to Offline Anger?
As a psychiatrist, Aboujaoude said he sees many patients with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and the behavioral shifts brought about by Internet use. In 2006, he and other Stanford researchers published the results of a major study on problematic Internet habits that included more than 2,500 adults.
But Aboujaoude said that the dangers of the e-personality don't just apply to those with the most extreme Internet habits. Potentially, he said, everyone who connects to the Web is changed.
"Society at large is becoming a more angry, uncivil place," he said, pointing to the violent rhetoric that preceded the recent tragedy in Tucson and the vitriol surrounding the health care law debates last summer. "We should ask ourselves if one reason we've become so uncivil is because of what we do online and how we act on our blogs and in our chat rooms."
His arguments echo those of Nicholas Carr, who recently published "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains." Aboujaoude says the fast-moving, information-overloaded Internet conditions people to become impulse-driven, impatient and unfocused.