Roberts Essay 2

In my first essay, I briefly mentioned, “In the time that I played, one person I knew on my server broke up one marriage and ended up dating the woman online.” In the time that I’ve spent trying to decide what to write about, one of my old friends from World of Warcraft contacted me to tell me that this person was no longer with his fiancée. They ended up separating because he was caught having cyber-sex with another female player. Her husband had walked in on her, and when she tried to either deny what was going on or defend herself, he decided that he was done. Several people in the guild that was led by our original person know about this, yet they still follow him. A month or so after the cyber-sex incident, they split. This split ended up causing their entire community to collapse and people to finally see what a scummy person he really is.

While this may sound like the only strange thing he has done, it is far from it. He can’t hold a steady job, has alienated all of his real life friends that used to play Warcraft with him, and at one point during all of this he was still living with his parents. He also can’t find jobs that require him to function during normal hours of the day. This may seem strange, but he is actually playing a North American copy of the game instead of a European copy. This means he plays on servers with people in places like Florida and Wisconsin instead of other players in the United Kingdom or France.

Originally, I wanted to use this as another argument about why people should be held accountable for their actions online, but I feel that it also works as the beginning of a cautionary tale about the effects of the anonymity you have on the Internet.

In most online gaming, there seems to be a trend of people acting far tougher than they ever would in real life. On top of that, they are never willing to back up what they’re saying. Since no one will actually know where you live, what you look like, or your name, you begin to feel like you have much more power than you do. While these people may not be as anonymous as they think, they won’t necessarily notice. Instead, they take advantage of being able to come up with a new personality. This is their chance at a fresh start, a way to be someone completely different with their new friends. No one has to see the real them, and they probably won’t because of this newfound power.

This is part of why the Internet is full of so called “tough guys” and trolls. From quickly glancing at some realm forums for World of Warcraft, I found a thread with someone that easily fills these roles.

“I know it has to suck to be beaten by a pair of 78s. Also, nice SS with ur BS there buddy….it's still only gonna hit just me u know?

Just admit that you are jealous of my hair and i MIGHT give you the name of the product i use.

/skittles

PS. UMADCUZBAD?”

“@the bad warrior above you: When you repeatedly try to attack the lil 78 pally, was it 4 or was it 5 times, and die each and every time….u should be shamed lol. 80 in full res getting trampled by a guy in blue savage gear…gg. My greatest WoW exp was bangin your mom though, OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, sick burn sick burn.”

Sadly, this is the quality I expect from most Massively Multiplayer games (with the exception of Lord of the Rings Online, which has a far more mature community than most for some reason). People enjoy taking advantage of the fact that all you can see is their character information. If you confront them about it, they spout more of the same and nothing is accomplished other than feeding the troll.

This problem isn’t just limited to gaming or even places where you are actually anonymous. People seem to just enjoy the ability to say whatever they want online. Tales of people trying to start trouble on sites like Facebook aren’t uncommon at all. There is one story about a 13-year-old girl with depression and attention deficit disorder that killed herself because of a fake MySpace friend. While this is more of an extreme case because of the depression and ADD, it is still the result of people abusing their powers of anonymity on the Internet.

“Megan, a 13-year-old who suffered from depression and attention deficit disorder, corresponded with Josh for more than a month before he abruptly ended their friendship, telling her he had heard she was cruel.
The next day Megan committed suicide. Her family learned later that Josh never actually existed; he was created by members of a neighborhood family that included a former friend of Megan's.”

The biggest issue of the entire situation lies with what ends up happening to the family with the fake account.

“The woman who created the fake profile has not been charged with a crime. She allegedly told the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department she created Josh's profile because she wanted to gain Megan's confidence to know what Megan was saying about her own child online.
The mother from down the street told police that she, her daughter and another person all typed and monitored the communication between the fictitious boy and Megan.”

Not only does this make it seem like abusing anonymity is okay, but that there should be no punishment for pushing someone further into depression. When you know someone has trouble with depression and you tell them that the world would be better without them, chances are that it isn’t being done for a few simple laughs.

If we don’t start to punish people for their poor choices online, especially the ones that end up in situations like death, then what are we accomplishing? People need to be controlled at least a little. There is no reason that they should have the power and ability to do anything and everything they want online. While I don’t think strict Internet policies or crackdowns would be necessary, I do feel that there should be some way to inform people of what is really happening. Not everyone can take the abuse or cheating that can come from these situations on the Internet, and since we can’t stop them from participating, there should be some sort of control to help cut back on it.

Sources
http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=24702231811&sid=1
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21844203/ns/technology_and_science-internet/page/2/

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License