John Suler's The Psychology of Cyberspace
One of the great advantages of publishing an online book is the steady stream of feedback I receive from readers. Those responses have been very helpful to me in making revisions and updates. Although this book has not been subjected to peer review or editorial critiquing in the traditional sense - which makes some people skeptical about its value - it indeed has been evaluated extensively by the many people who have visited this site. I'd like to thank readers for taking the time and effort to help me improve it.
Here I'd like to share some of the e-mail I've received. As you'll see, the messages cover a wide range of reactions: compliments, thanks, criticisms, complaints, questions, insights, and sharing of personal experiences. It's a very accurate sample of the kind of mail that comes in on a daily basis. I think it's a good measure of the effect that this book and the topic of cyberpsychology has on people.
Please keep in mind that these e-mail messages are coming from people around the world. English is not always their first language, so there are errors in spelling and grammar. Although, for the sake of brevity, I edited down a few of the messages, I tried keep each one as close as possible to its original form. At the bottom of some of them, I appended some thoughts or observations of my own. I also gave a title to each message to help you peruse through them.
More Than Just Circuits
I just wanted to drop you a line to tell you I find your work incredibly fascinating. I downloaded it, and read it, and I have to say it is definitely one of the most interesting aspects of the internet I have encountered so far, because few people seem to realise that this new medium has a great effect on the behaviour of people. Too many speak about the technical side of the internet and forget there is an emotional side to it as well.... If you ever plan to publish the cyberbook as a real book: I'll be the first to buy it. It was fun finding some interesting information in the enormous pile of digital junk out there.
You have been such a help! Your web page has all of the information that I have been looking for in such a concise format. Thank you very much!
The Next Level of Psychotherapy
I have been reading your website Psychology of Cyberspace and have found it be fascinating. You are the only person I have found that seems to be taking the idea of psychotherapy on the internet to the next level.
Your articles are truely fascinating and provide a brilliant source of info to those considering web development or those whose companies and cultures rely on the web.
Hello, how are you doing? I have something which I feel is important to bring up regarding a friend of mine. I'm hoping that you can come up with suggestions or ideas to help out the situation. My friend could be classified as an Internet Addict. I'm asking you for free advice on this, but if you don't give advice for free, then just take this message as part of your reasearch....
[Because I know so very little about people who e-mail me looking for help, I prefer not to give out advice. But I do try to direct people towards information and resources that may help them]
Validating Personal Experience
While searching for the Palace link I came upon your homepage. I found it fascinating! Far too much to absorb in one sitting. I shall return! I agree with just about everything I read. Understood and validated many things I had not completely grasped and in general "lost track of time" while reading the pages.
ESP and Sex
I was pleased to find the information your sites provide; not only have many of my assessments of various aspects of cyberpsychology been validated, but I am also finding guidance to the deeper insights I seek. I was somewhat surprised to note that you seemed open to the possiblity of extra-sensory connection across the web, although after perusing your personal page and noting your interest in eastern disciplines, I think I understand that.... I did want to take exception to your comment in "The Final Showdown..." that cybersex "...mostly consists of talking dirty to each other," although I suspect the comment was offered somewhat tongue in cheek. Still, I felt it trivialized something that can be every bit as profound and moving as physical sex, especially in its psychological ramifications.
Contributing to Online Communities
I enjoy your online book regarding the Psychology of Cyberspace very much. Thank you for your wonderful contribution to the cyber communities.
News for Newbies
I first and foremost reveal my true status to you - that of the screaming-flaming-out of the closet-NEWBIE. It required some associative surfing to stumble across your website and I am glad I did. I have learned more about cyberspace from your site than all other previously visited sites COMBINED. Like most NEWBIEs, I am trying very hard to master the subtle nuances of the internet and have found authoritative sources[such as yours]hard to find.Eternal thanks for providing such a complete and informative site.
Why Only Palace?
I was very interested in what you had to say about avatars and social interaction/reprecussions due to online interaction. I saw brief excerpts of your work in the APA Monitor, and am currently going through the papers you have for online access. You mention the aspect of people almost "living" online. I assume by this you mean that the number of hours they log would indicate that they obviously have no time to "live" outside of the isolation chamber of their monitor. Because of being exposed to your work, I paid a visit to www.thepalace.com - there is so much more you can learn, Dr. Suler, about online environments. Do not limit your work to the flat world found in The Palace.
[Although my research started at the Palace - and several of my articles are about those communties - my more recent projects are pertain to a wide variety of internet topics]
I have been palacing for a couple of years. Have developed a few palaces for others and myself. And have been developing avatars for corporation...the non- palace types...since 1994. I think your understanding of avatars, what i would call "cyber essence" is right on the money.
Im a psychology student and im making my thesis about the psychological reactions that chat`s produces and also the internet addiction.. I read ur researh and it so great!!!! i mean it`s really great!!!!.. it help me alot with my work.
Wanting More Info
I am an italian final-year student of Clinical Psychology. I want say you that your hypertext book is fantastic, the most complete book in Internet. In this moment of the work i need all the informations and suggestions about the matter. I hope you can send me all the possible.
[Almost everything I write about the internet is published in this online book The Psychology of Cyberspace... so it's all there for the taking!]
It's Not Sick
It is a wonderful web site -- so rare to see a view of cyber-relationships without pathologizing.
Not Too Keen on Freud
My idea of the world is pretty bleak, considering the kinds of errors and faulty thinking I've come across in day to day life. Cyberspace is no different. The online textbook you've put up on the Web has confirmed many of the things I've suspected about people in Cyberspace. There are some subtle Freudian points you've raised that I don't particularly agree with, but for the moment I won't convolute this email further by expounding an informal criticism; nevertheless, open discussion with another open mind is the key to good science, no?
I was just wondering if there was some way I could get your freud av, its just one of those things so silly it would be nice to bring out occasionaly.
Put Your Name on the Article!
I am currently writing an essay for an English Comp paper about Internet addiction, and wanted to quote from one of the articles you had written. Unfortunately, your name was nowhere to be found on it, and therefor it was unusable.
[My name appears in the navigation bar at the top of every article in The Psychology of Cyberspace. Sometimes, with or without my permission, people republish my articles on their web sites. They may not always place my name clearly in the article]
I'd to access your online book, but I can't seem to access the zipped file - I keep getting sent to the top of the page instead. Sorry to bother you with a tech question, but how do I access it?
[The download should work fine. Remember that the file is in a compressed "zip" format, so you will need a program to unzip it. These utilities - like "winzip" for PCs or ZipIt for Mac - are available on the web, sometimes for free].
Havoc on Campus
Have been browsing your web-site which contain fascinating information which will take me time to digest!! I worked with University students and this cyberculture is creating alot of havoc here. Some students have "regressed" to behaviour that has led to problems which has gained authority attention. With 95% of all first year having laptop, network point throughout the hall, university, etc the problem will increase. ICQ is very popular among students and role-playing sites have not made a great impact.
Internet Mediated Marriage
I recently read the article Cyberspace Romances.......I thought it was extremely good. I met my husband on the internet...and through modern technology we made it through some very tough times and decisions. Although I was very careful knowing that people are not always who they say they are.... After several visits..etc...and communicating through chat and via camera we made it and were finally married. Well I am back off to the site to read some more...just wanted to give you my thoughts.
Who Needs F2F Contact?
In your article you state "In an ideal world, we could have it both ways. We could develop our relationships in-person and in cyberspace, thereby taking advantage of each realm." I feel that this is somewhat contradictory; much of the appeal of CSR's is the lack of sensory information about one's partner; one can feel as if one is connected directly to their soul. If we know one another in person, I believe the honest nature of CSR's will be deadened by the added factor of IP deception.
It's "Doctor" to You!
I was so glad to read a newspaper report which mentioned your work -- but I got a little, lets say it nicely, p--d o-- when the writer referred to you as Mr. Suler. I typed an email to them and said good story, but, geeeez, it's *Dr.* Suler forchrisake.... Congratulations -- not only for such good work -- but also for "taking the high ground" re the Mr. thing and not being insulted about it. I wudda been tempted to be a smartaleck and sarcastic. So double congratulations to you! You help us all look good.
I really appreciate the generosity, with which you share such a wealth of knowledge and expirience. When, after a lot of less lucky research, I found your online hypertext book, I almost jumped on my chair and said: "WOW, this is sth for me!" But I was a bit worried by the prospect of having to go into every chapter to save it for future refrence (I don't always have easy access to the net)... And then I noticed the "zip file to download" feature. Tell me Professor: where such kind people come from??
Need Not Reply
Fascinating stuff, and looks to be the most interesting read I've seen from an academic in many years (well, since Citizens or that four-volume work on the Civil War). U are no doubt swamped by messages from people who've discovered the work, so just bask in a moment of glory and don't bother replying.
[I do try to respond to all my e-mail. I may miss a few messages here and there when life's demands get overwhelming, but not many get by me]
Hummm... That sux that my first comment on your work is about a broken link. **frowns** Cuz, ya know, for a PhD guy, you write in ways both enlightening and entertaining. Tis true! **nods** Anyway. I got a broken link to report. I'm sorry...
[I like being able to link to other resources on the web, but I have to admit that it's a real nuisance having to continually locate and fix links that have gone dead]
To Copy or Not to Copy?
As I am a struggling beginner in web designing, I do need inspiration and examples of what can be done. I found your article on "Publishing Online" very useful, and I am also very impressed by the clear layout of your site. Looking at the source code, I can manage to understand how things are done, but then I bump into a couple of "ethical" questions. When does inspiration leave place to stealing or copying? I would like to know to what extent I can freely use bits and pieces of code from your site. Also, I find your copyright notice very well done, and would like to put something similar on my site. How much can I copy? Of course, credit to my "inspiration" sources will be given.
[Feel free to borrow code from my page layout. But if you use quotes from my online book, please cite me]
Self-actualization is more easier to achieve in virtual society than real world. What's the opinion of Prof. John Suler? Does internet bring any benefict to human, especially mentaly?
its scary how accurate are your observations. even with the limited use of tonality and "emotion" through signage such as "lol" " :-)" " *igor frowns* ", there is just so much scope left for unconscious filling in of the gaps, amnd interpreting or usually misinterpreting the smallest of things that may be in the slighest sense a bit vague.....thanks for the interesting articles came upon by chance.
i am a guy from iran...i mean i am a middle hacker in my own age... somebody from U.S hacker `s society told me that mail to you..and say every thing that i want to know about hackers you know..i told to a hacker that i want to be a good hacker..and he recommened you to me.. he told me that there is a site that every nice hackers would be there...he told me that you konw something about that site and you can tell me the name of that site and you can give me an username & password...that i can be a member in this site...and give some information & more.....
[I don't know of any such site]
I've checked your wonderful website and I just wanted to congrate you. It's very interesting. I've felt in love four month ago with a girl over the net and for the moment, email is all we have to communicate. It's really hard to keep a relationship like that, sometimes Email is a friend and sometimes our worse enemy. I've met her over a message board. I'm lesbian, so it's not easy to meet like that other girl with the same orientation, as far as it's banned here (in Europe). So Internet is for alot of us a wonderful mean to share experience and life without shocking anybody. Anyway your analysis over cyber romance is really interesting.
Online Romance (2)
I have read the article ...on cyber romance..found it most intriguing..sent this URL to friends..and also asked for their thoughts about the article....Why did I write this? What you have said has really struck a cord with me. Love, indeed, can become real via the internet. Throughout our history, there have been real stories of love ..through the miles..because of a lock of hair, a locket, a letter, a picture. The internet is merely ...the modern day version...and ...wherever there can be true feelings expressed, is a time when we are happier..when happiness comes so far and few between these days (for so few people). I appreciated, very much, your words. I have saved those words, to remind me..for when we feel..even through printed words, whatever the source, it reminds us that we are, indeed, alive..and well..
CyberCrush (more online romance!)
I have just stumbled onto your website while (I'm horribly embarrassed to say) waiting impatiently for my e-mail partner (crush is probably more accurate) to respond to my last missive. You are remarkably insightful, although I'm fairly astounded that anyone has put as much thought into the psychology of cyberflirtation as you have. Just consider this a fan letter from a woman who never thought she'd be caught up in an on-line relationship -- though for your records, I did meet my partner in person before we started e-mailing each other.
The Comfort Zone, and Beyond
I am overwhelmed and impressed. Have been looking for an area of this magnitude.... Finally someone is addressing the issue! And, it went beyond, this small person was a bit floored....Your articles were reality. Although I have few email contacts and it is normal to get up in the morning without more than one message at hand....I still find a way to sit at this thing...It is far easier for me to stay in my comfort zone within the confines of home, and the keyboard.....and I am not an anti-social person. A recent move to a new state and the loss of my husband......the vulnerability is obvious. Your writing, however, is a great reinforcement to head for the "sun" and return to the creativity of this person's mind. In some small way......my appreciation. Granted, being on the net got me to you.
If you have the time...could you help with a question on how to proceed with a 16 year old boy who spends night and day (when not at school or sleeping) on the computer...he gets on the internet, uses the game channels gets mad and pounds the computer when he loses, chats, views some porn rooms and then resents his mom's (my friend) efforts to thwart his online activities. She has disabled the computer by removing hardware..he has rigged it back with the help of friends...She has set passwords in the bios he has circumvented them...I am sure you know the story. Are there "kick the cyber habit" groups? Books or papers?
What does "Compute in C?" mean.
I came a cross you web site yesterday afternoon, and am very impressed with your *excellent article*, "E-mail Communication and Relationships". Your materials was very helpful to me in understanding how I can communicate more effectively through e-mail. I am not a student of Psychology, but thought your web site was very informative and impressive.
Hard to Read
One problem I've run into, though - at the main page, the section starting "Overview and Guided Tour" is pretty hard to read, appearing (on IE5.0 at least) as light-blue text on a light-purple background. It'd help those of us with less-than-100% vision if something with a bit more contrast was used...
[Unfortunately, as a Mac user, I don't often get the chance to check out my pages on a PC. Different computers and monitors read text and color differently..... sigh...]
Chat Isn't for Losers
I am fascinated about chatroom relationships and dynamics, which is why I read your articles. Up until last April, I scoffed at the idea of entering a chatroom - I thought it was for losers. But one day while bored to tears at work, I decided to click on the chat link on the MSN homepage. I have been a "Rendezvous" chatroom regular ever since.
Real Isn't Real
What if I told you that nothing is real? What if I told you that the world as we know is nothing but VR and we all are aliens caught in a dream? What if I told you that we live in a world that never existed ?
Insights from Laypeople
Do you think it's possible for a layman with open mind to acquire knowlegde that can be of any use not only for just an average reader of a magazine dealing with Internet, but also for the more scientific community?
[Insights from "laypeople" on the internet are an important component of my research. For me, it's the essence of the participant-observation method]
Suspicion about Online Companions
I read your articles after a particularly frustrating turn in my cyberrelationship with a male who is becoming rather significant to me. ( We have phoned, exchanged pix and plan to meet) I am a "newbie" and am concerned about some of the sexual content in his messages. He got very intimate very soon into our relationship, and asked for intimate garments of mine, which he intended to try on, etc. I was uncomfortable with that, but enjoy him outside that context. He informs me he now has a "sex partner" now and the tone of our email is a little more sedate, though we are still close, and write everyday. He has been considerate of my feelings and says he does not want me mislead or hurt in any way. I am experiencing some emotions I do not understand, and have some real concerns about meeting this man. He has stated he wants me to stay in his home, and plans to spend time with me, despite his new "sex partner." Any words of wisdom? Any insights? I feel particularly vulnerable right now and confused. I do not want world of cyberspace to become a hurtful experience.
[I include this message here because I think it's so important to emphasize that you never know for sure how honest some people are being online. When meeting someone f2f for the first time, it's a good idea to take some precautions... like meet in a public place for a short period of time]
The Black Hole
I happened upon your dissertation entitled "The Psychology of Cyberspace" and had to return some feedback. I fully intend to read it in its entirety, but just to let you know-- that portions I have already read are so engrossing and insightful that they made me
laugh out loud to myself!! I particularly found the "black hole" experience to be both an incredible and "cyberuniversal", if you will, analogy; the "unanswered e-mail" phenomenon (and all those questions that enter our minds about it) being an especially amusing aspect!! It truly awakens us to our inner motives for corresponding with others as we do in this "virtual realm"! I look forward to continuing reading. Thank you for sharing this with all of us out here in space and "may the FORCE be with you!!"
Getting to Know John
It seems to me I "know" you and in a certain way I do a bit. As I had the idea to write my final project about CMC, I found your web sites and your hypertext book "The Psychology of Cyberspace", which is full of interesting and good hints for me, and in this way I've started to know you a little bit.
The Value of Understanding Psychology
I am deeply impressed by your online book "The psychology of cyberspace". I suppose that every person should have basic knowledge of psychology just to be able to conclude anything about himself and others. After I have read your book, I have no doubt that our psychology (social as well as individual) in "real" world differs from that in cyberspace grately.
I just wanted to add my praise for your increadibly insightful and thought-provoking page. I actually stumbled on it more than two years ago, when I was an online administrator, (similar to a Palace wizard, except for a gaming network, and a paid employee. Meaning I had gaming issues to administrate as well). I showed my boss your page, he printed out 20 copies, (went through a few reams of paper,) collated them all, and made the entire thing required reading for every admin of the network - paid employee or volunteer.
E-mail with One's Therapist
I was reading your articles about cybertherapy and i must say they were interesting. But I want to share some information with you. I have been in therapy (psychoanalitical therapy) for about 4 years, with three different analysts. Just a few days ago i found the e mail address of my therapist and i sent a poem to him. I have no response yet but I'll wait to the session on next week. Question is: Do you think that e-mail is going to be an input a value on interpersonal therapy? Because i will continue to use this technology to explore the relationship between me and him...
holy smokes - thats it - and your just a kid you spoke to me when you mentioned tendency to go along - lost capacity for genuineness - people of fixed capacity to gain approvel - always predictable - yeah its seen every day but how are people taught to recognize it - boy im 80 but even so how id like to sit with you just to have fun and pick your mind a little - thanks so much for your time to answer
This is a fantastic site but written in a style that's over most people's heads...unless you're a psych major but then maybe that's who the site is for. If it's general readership you're after then I would try to come down a little. I feel that's one of the reasons for boredom in classrooms...the textbooks are written by Phds and are hard for average readers to understand. I am on a personal campaign to make learning more fun
What Suler is Up To
Are you working on a book right now? Any ongoing projects, or are you just teaching?
[In addition to my teaching, my cyberpsychology research always moves forward - and whatever I write, I publish in this online book "The Psychology of Cyberspace"]