People often move their lips or make speech sounds as they read, which can make them project their own voice into the other person’s text

If Freud were alive and guiding 21st-century people through analysis today, he would have written “Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality.” Aboujaoude’s patients’ notes (with all names changed to protect the innocent) provides a great baseline to begin discussing the strange and insidious new problems that come with living life online.

Ever think of the process communication goes through? How it’s groomed by those who benefit from it. And edited by those who want to come across a certain way?

Pay attention to the ways you reprocess communications. This includes text messages and emails.

Do you ever find yourself reading over text messages and saying them aloud? Do you notice how the voice, intention, and requests change as they become your voice?

In Virtually You: The Dangerous Aspects of the E-Personality, Aboujaoude writes:

“People often move their lips or make speech sounds as they read, which can make them project their own voice into the other person’s text. The result can be that the conversation is experienced as taking place in one’s own head, much more a soliloquy than the dialog that it really is between two separate entities.”  – Aboujaoude

Stop reading your own meanings, worries, and hangups into the text messages you receive.

“Since talking to oneself is generally considered safer than talking to someone else, the result is more indiscriminant openness and less responsible disclosures, not to mention a dissolution of boundaries between “self” and the “other.” This dissolution, we will see, does not help our universal goal of psychological independence and healthy autonomy.” – Aboujaoude

When I find myself rereading texts to search for hidden meanings I know it’s game over. Time to put down the phone. Time to go for a run. Time to lift weights. Time to do something that expends energy that I am wasting aggressively rereading text messages to get some kind of upper-hand, moral superiority, or to rewrite my views of how things “actually” went down.

Now I’d like to hear from you.

What do you do to keep yourself from revisiting old conversations, replaying them in your head, or envisioning how this all would have all turned out if you had just done this one thing differently?

I’d love to hear what works for you. Email me with your suggestions.

Author: David Neely

Professional Software Developer. Technology and Web Coordinator at the University of Hawaii's Manoa Career Center.