Posted: 14 January 2008 at 11:23pm | IP Logged
The internet has changed society a lot. Virtual communities have changed the concept of social networking. People make friends online, network with people of similar interest and even find romantic interests online. With the advent of games like Second Life people are almost living two lives the real one and the virtual one. Online communities are a source of escapism, being the personality you cannot be, doing things you would not do in real life, letting go of your alter ego. Many different factors trigger different behaviors online.
The question of cheating definitely arises. However, I think there is a much bigger ethical debate that transcends out of this. There are a lot of lines and boundaries that are blurred.
There are several arguments on both sides of the coin. In fact different people draw lines at different places, it is more like a kaleidoscope of perceptions.
On one hand online relationships are just what the name states online. They are not real. A lot of people dismiss online relationships. When it comes to games like Second Life. It's just a game. How can you take it seriously. If you run over cops in GTA, its just a game. So then why cant you do other things in a game that you will not do in real life.
People tend to draw the line when it comes to relationships. Online relationships sometimes do turn real. There are many people who meet online, flirt, engage in cyber sex and eventually marry. The lines between reality and virtuality are blurred. If someone crosses the line online then it is like crossing a line in life too.
Then again where is the line drawn. What constitutes cheating. Is it sex? Are people who enter erotic chat rooms, talk dirty on IM, engage in cyber sex cheating? Is it the emotions? What about online relationships that are platonic and friendly in nature but people find so many thoughts and emotions in common, that they feel they are in love? Or is cheating both? But then again that is just some person online, just a screen name, the relationship is not real? Would masturbating to po*n be cheating? Would fantasizing about celebrities or heroes out of romance novels be cheating?
In my personal opinion it is really impossible to draw a line and define cheating. A person should have a consciousness and question their own actions. What boundaries do they want to set for themselves, what boundary would they expect of their spouse. Would they be embarassed if someone found out. Are they afraid to get caught. If it is cheating, stop and be honest. If you are falling in love with another person - time has come to make honest decisions and choices. What goes on behind closed doors or behind the screen is the other persons prerogative. What effects the relationship of a couple is for the couple to define. Personally, I would be ok with flirting but would draw the line at sex and/or intense emotional attachments.
The virtual world has so many other issues. Suicidal teens. Virtual harassment. People losing real life social skills for online communities. Sexual predators etc.