A Rape in Cyberspace: Issues Within Virtual Relationships
In Julian Dibbell’s “A Rape in CyberSpace”, he narrates an instance in which a cyber character raped another character. The consequences of said rape were extremely complicated because there are multiple ways to see this situation; some people took the stance that these characters are fictitious so the cyber rape is not actually valid, while others took the stance that real people are behind the characters so there should be consequences. In the end, the cyber rapist was “frogged” from the game, meaning his profile was completely deleted. This entire online controversy made both the players and the observers take a step back and analyze the online situation. Although these characters are supposed to be fictitious, there are real people behind the screen; real emotions are being hurt, stimulated, and affected because of these games.
The first aspect in consideration from this situation, virtual or not, should be the victim. Different people react in different ways, it is not fair to call someone’s emotions invalid or over dramatic just because the situation is virtual. In fact, the author comments that “months later, the woman in Seattle would confide to me that as she wrote [her statement], posttraumatic tears were streaming down her face- a real life fact that should suffice to prove that words’ emotional content was no mere playing” (208). The victim cried real tears, not virtual ones; a line was definitely crossed. Although some see these characters as “fake”, they actually exist. A player can’t just put their emotions on hold just because there is a computer screen in the way.
Another issue that this article arose is the fact that some players will release their inner angers or disturbances into characters. The problem with this, however, is that the players are not harnessing raw emotion properly. The Internet is not the proper place to experiment, especially with heavy topics such as rape. Characters such as Mr. Buggle, the virtual rapist, are real people, which is disturbing because the author categorized him by writing that his, “delusional statement placed him among the second type: the sociopath” (209). Sociopaths should not be freely running the Internet, hiding behind a computer screen, and releasing the raw emotion built inside them. When this does happen, the consequences include horrible situations such as this one- cyber rape.
In a news article titled “Popular Violent Video Game Linked to the Suicides of Four Teens” by Glenn Beck, the author describes an extremely horrific story in which four teens take their own lives due to the violence witnessed in video games. The disturbing images seen in video games are desensitizing players to gruesome events. Plus, options such as “live” or “chat” give players the opportunity to communicate with other players. While this seems like a helpful feature, it has become a means of trash talk and violent words. In the article, it is quoted that players have “become so addicted to technology that we have forgotten the interpersonal relationships and a quieter life” (Glenn Beck). This quote shows that video game players are becoming so accustomed to fast moving and adrenalizing games, that living a normal life is no longer appealing.
All in all, these two articles demonstrate how certain personalities are unable to handle the anonymity and freedom virtual realities offer. While some people can easily function playing virtual realty games, others, such as sociopaths, find it as an opportunity to release negative inhibitions.