VR vs RL

In a “Tinysociety” lived people from across the nation that worked together to escape reality. The use of this tiny society was through a program called LambdaMOO. Within this virtual world, people had the ability to illustrate themselves as they wanted and become any person they wanted to be without affects on the real world. Where does the real world and virtual reality collide though? In Julian Dibbell’s “A Rape in Cyberspace,” the author examines the crimes of Mr. Bungle and Dr. Jest to uncover the truth about societies.

Within LambdaMOO, many users believed they could finally create a sustainable world where they are genuinely happy and excited to go to. As there could be troubles in the real world, as soon as the user logs into their character, they become that character. I knew a guy named Mason who struggled a lot with social interaction. He was socially awkward in some aspects and didn’t truly enjoy the human interaction that he encountered at school. He was different and was judged on his appearance. He told me almost every day that he was so excited to get home and play World of Warcraft because he could finally be around people that liked him for him. Not only did his online friends share a common interest, but they had no way of judging him based on appearance. On top of that, the socially awkward comments were less likely to accumulate because he felt comfortable typing instead of confrontation. With societies like LambdaMOO, the users have the same ability to build themselves the way they want to and not be judged based on appearances or social anxiety.

The downfall that comes with these virtual societies is that they can be easily interrupted by the same mean people that are faced in the real world. In Dibbell’s piece, an incident that has been titled as “rape” invades the privacy and civility most users thought were practical. Exu the victim of Mr. Bungle’s rape, states, “I trust people to conduct themselves with some veneer of civility,” (6). These virtual worlds are places that most users established as safe communities. It was unlikely that someone wishing to do harm to the community would even enter such a place as LambdaMOO; however, as all societies virtual or real, there are those people that will interrupt the safety of a community for his or her own amusement. This is where the lines of VR and RL connect. There is never an escape from the real world because there will always be the same instances.

The community of LambdaMOO thought that “toading” Mr. Bungle would suffice; unfortunately, the character only arose again as a new character named Dr. Jest (18). One main difference to point out, however, is that the two characters – Mr. Bungle and Dr. Jest – were played by two different people. Mr. Bungle was sought out as a joke to harass the virtual world for their own amusement; however, Dr. Jest returned as a single student getting off on a strange fetish.

What surfaces with the discovery of such incidents like the LambdaMOO one is that there is truly no escape from the real world. With every society comes choices on how to act. Personally, I believe that virtual worlds only amplify the dystopian societal aspect. If there truly are no consequences for such behavior, what stops the perpetrators from perpetrating. The freedom that reigns in the virtual world is untouched by governmental intervention; therefore, there will be no democratic society. Although it is possible to ban such behavior by eliminating a character, it is very easy to reinstate one’s self just as Dr. Jest did.

So the collision happens at the very beginning. Imagine, with an unbiased opinion, someone is reincarnated. They have all the rights to do what they want and become who they want. They are new again and are building a name for himself or herself. That is what LambdaMOO allows. A new name and identity for every user that interacts – of course the only differences are, again, the legal actions. The everything is similar between the two societies except for the governmental structure.

It is important to remember that there will always be a problem with communities whether they are real or virtual. The “freedoms of expressions” cannot be banned and therefore acts will always be disapproved by some party (28). The freedoms that are allowed to be expressed prevents a utopian society to form. The author was wrong to think that there were “truer” and “more elegant” things to find on LambdaMOO (28). The escape from the real world does not mean the virtual world will take away all the craziness you disapprove of. It means there is an even more likely chance for destruction to happen because as Dr. Jest and Mr. Bungle thought, there are no legal consequences to their actions since after all, it is just a virtual world.

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3 comments

  1. meghanrogers7 · October 22, 2015

    The fact that virtual reality and real life are still tied together in someway is interesting as a general topic. It’s true that you cannot fully escape the effects of a real life environment when going onto a virtual site. In this case it was LambdaMOO when users wanted to escape their personal lives for a little while. Most of the users thought it would be harmless and fun until three users were virtually violated. It just shows that what occurs in real life can happen in a virtual setting. Although the crime was not as harsh as it would of been, if it happen is the real world.

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  2. Ethyn Reasoner · October 23, 2015

    I could somewhat connect with the boy you mentioned who could not wait to get home to play WoW. I do not connect well with most of the people I interact with in real life on a regular basis, so I can find some common ground on that. I would not consider myself socially awkward, but I do not interact with people the same ways that I see a lot of people doing. I have a lot of good friends online through the PlayStation Network. I am closer with them than I am almost anyone in real life. I also have a stricter definition of a real-life “friend,” meaning that I had two real friends from school. I had dozens of other acquaintances. We did not “hang out,” though. I never got “close” with more than just a couple of people throughout high school. That is just the way that I operate. Part of that is a lack of effort and interest on my part. The other part of it is that I am introverted. I have mentioned that I participate in certain networks, but I am not specific about who I spend time with online because that is not anybody’s business but my own. With that said, I view video games as another sector of my life. My GTA character does not look like me or represent me. I do not treat video games as an extension of myself. On the NASCAR video games, that is my opportunity to at least pretend I am a racecar driver for a while, but I am not claiming that I am one in real life.

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  3. livymelberg · October 26, 2015

    I think it so interesting the difference between the uses of technology. You friend was able to use gaming platforms to make friends and be himself with little anxiety that social outings bring. But other people can use games to do horrible things. In America we have the freedom to say basically anything and the opportunities to abuse this right multiples on the internet.

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