Will the Internet ever be a safe place?
April 12, 2011 § Leave a Comment
As the virtual world becomes increasingly more complex, I find it to be even more challenging than our everyday lives in the real world. After reading the three articles for class this week, I can’t tell if I was surprised at what I was reading or if I simply hadn’t thought about the endless possibilities of tormenting that can occur online.
More specifically, as I read Julian Dibbell’s (2008) “Mutilated Furries, Flying Phalluses: Put the Blame on Griefers, the Sociopaths of the Virtual World” I was really disturbed by the insane and perverse actions that happen online and I can’t help but think it’s only happening because of the anonymity that’s there. As Dibbell explains various forms of virtual torment and torture through “griefers,” “Goons,” and “Patriotic Nigras,” their offensive behavior is something completely unique to the online world and is likewise more scathing in my opinion because of the anonymity these groups have.
Reinforced in Mia Consalvo’s (2005) “Rule Sets, Cheating, and Magic Circles: Studying Games and Ethics,” she mentions how many of the “rule-breakers” are acting far outside the moral compasses that they have in real-life because they don’t feel like they are held to the same level of punishment, or rather, they don’t feel like they need to act according to virtual rules because they don’t have real-world consequences (meaning jail time or something severely damaging to a person’s life). I think these invisible virtual rules, however, are becoming more and more important as these worlds continue to merge with everyday life.
While there have been cases of virtual abuse that have gone to much greater scales, like the 1993 virtual rape in LambdaMOO which sparked users to make clear edits to the programming of the software, there are many abuses that go without penalty and which I think have just as significant of consequences as real-life injustices. I wonder though, how can we completely rid the Internet from the griefers we see in World of Warcraft who continuously kill young gamers and take their gear and supplies? How do you get rid of a player in SecondLife that drops blue cubes all over your property and is technically vandalizing, but yet still is within it’s rights of the game? Is it the rules we need to change or will there always be a way to infiltrate the system online as Dibbell has given plenty of examples to justify?