| Pat Wallace and I both wrote introductory textbooks in psychology, and now both focus on the psychology of computer-based media. I'm delighted then, on reading her book, The Psychology of the Internet, to find our old friends in our new context. The concepts of impression management - Erving Goffman (Page 28), cognitive dissonance - Leon Festinger (Page 122), locus of control - Julian Rotter (Page 173), and many others throw light on the behavior of the person in our new environment of the internet.|
Or, more accurately, our new environments. The author opens with a useful taxonomy of environments on the internet (Pages 4-9). Articles in the popular press tend to talk about life on the internet as if it was a single environment and often even conflate experience with computers and with television on the superficial observation that they both have screens. Wallace recognizes that online environments can be as varied as offline environments. She takes the sensible stance that we are dealing with the same person in different settings, which bring out different aspects of the human potential. "We don't mutate into a new species when we connect to cyberspace, but the psychological factors that affect our behavior in real life play out differently online because the environments we enter are different" (Page 236). The internet settings may be moving targets (Page 255) but the person is not. This is a refreshing change from the speculative "fiction" of much discussion in the popular press ranging from the gee-whiz hopes of technophiles to the oh-my-God fears of technophobes, who both imagine our species "evolving" into some post-human superperson or monster.
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