PSYCHOLOGY OF CYBERSPACE:
CYBERSPACE AS DREAM WORLD

by John Suler, Ph.D.

To Part V

Dream 2: Belonging and Being Understood

"I dreamed about the palace last night. I went to the PUG meeting and it lasted until midnight. I went to bed almost immediately after the end. I felt a little frustrated because they are things I wanted to say and couldn't, for many reasons, the main is because I speak Spanish and have a hard time to express myself the right way and fast... The only time I spoke, I felt people misunderstood what I meant. I must say also that I like the palace because it gives me a few seconds to put my words in order and I can read what I want to say. And I can read what others say, instead of hear it. It help me very much with my learning of English... So I went to bed frustrated last night..."

"I dreamed I was somehow in real life, facing a person I saw in the meeting of last night. But I didn't talk. Like in the palace, even if that person was in front of me, I was writing to her, telling her exactly what I wanted to say last night but much more fluidly, like in Spanish (but it was in English). And it appeared in balloons, like in the palace. You know, when I go to the palace, I have the feeling that I speak: it's a mix of speech and writing. And I feel that my English is much better than it is in real life (hehe).... That was the same feeling in my dream, but more confused though..."

"Just a quick note. I speak Spanish, like I already told you. When I go too much on the palace, I'm confused when I go back to speaking Spanish. But I never tell one word of English, orally. It takes me sometimes half an hour to get my first thought in Spanish again."

Comments on Dream 2 (Belonging and Being Understood)

Everyone wants to belong and feel understood. Because they are new and open to almost everyone with a modem, online groups can be very attractive to people who want to satisfy those needs. The only problem at the Palace is that the membership is in a constant state of flux and communicating through text balloons is not as fluid or efficient as talking. Feeling like you belong and are understood can be a very tenuous, frustrating affair. On the other hand, communicating through typing does allow extra time to think and plan out exactly what you want to say, which helps some people express themselves BETTER. It's a curious mixed bag. For this foreign speaking user, these issues are accentuated in the dream.

PUG Meeting- The PUG group and monthly meetings had just started at the time this person had this dream. The creation of the Palace User Group was a clear sign of the overall need among Palatians to have a more centralized and cohesive group in which to communicate and feel a sense of belonging.

Mixing Speech and Writing- Several people have described to me dreams in which they are not just talking to other people, but also communicating through the Palace text balloons. In some dreams, it is a frustrating experience. In others, the typed text feels almost like a telepathic mind-meld. The switching, substitution, or confusion of typing versus speaking words in a dream reflects that basic human dilemma about not being understood or recognized for who you are, while longing for that completely empathic merging with another person.

Confusing Online and Offline Identity - Here again we see the theme of switching (and sometimes confusing) online and offline identities. In this dream it is expressed concretely in terms of the language being spoken. Some people may need a transition or decompression period in order to "adjust their heads" while moving from real to virtual world, and back again.

Dream 3: The Ideal Haven

John Suler, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at Rider University and a practicing clinical psychologist. He has published on psychotherapy, mental imagery, and eastern philosophy. He currently maintains several web sites.

 

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