Monday, 5 October 2009

Honesty Does Apply

I've said before that, unlike many other blogs, I will have strict quality control on my blogroll. Well, you might have noticed that the Greedy Goblin just disappeared from it. I used to think of that site as a clever businessman sharing his insights on the WoW economy. In today's post, however, he is proud of using lies and deceit to cheat a competitor out of his money.
His post, and the comments below it, got me thinking again about what anonymity does to people in online games and how one should behave in such situations.

"I lie on a daily basis on my server to get cheap raw epic gems as 'my main needs them so i can get into a better guild'- i couldnt care less boost my profit from 20g a gem to 100g.

Its a game and if people are stupid enough to believe it - their loss."
- Teikou, commenter on the Greedy Goblin

I get physically sick when I see comments like the one above. If you are playing an online game, you are dealing with real human beings just as in real life. It seems that large amounts of the MMO audience don't get this simple truth, but instead hide behind their anonymity and their safety from repercussions.

Teikou in the comment above claims, like many others,that it's "just a game." What they really mean is that in a game they don't feel the pressure of normal social rules but instead behave like they would if those rules didn't exist. Morals, it seems, have never really been trained to these people. They don't rob or insult others in real life because they know that they will be punished for it, but they don't feel that it would actually be bad to do so. Taking people without morals and ethics and putting them in a risk-free environment logically brings the fuckwad out in them.

What I don't get is how people can value others so little in the first place. Ever since my earliest childhood I have been taught to treat others fair and with respect. I've also learned that lying for personal gain (and other people's detriment) is a terrible thing to do and that you can get by well without it. (I'm not saying that I never lie, I don't think anyone can say that. It is the magnitude and the effects of the lie that matter.) I could start talking about how today's youth has lost all its values and whatever, but I doubt that it has become worse. The internet just gives us all a better opportunity to show who we really are. This scares me. Some of the most brutal crimes in history (slavery, the holocaust) have been enabled by exactly such opportunities - to act without fear of repercussions.

I suppose that there are many people, maybe even the majority, that follow morals and ethics only by the letter and not by heart. Maybe humans can't be changed to think differently. If you think you are different, have a look at how you treat people in anonymity. It's not just a game, you are dealing with real humans out there - make sure you treat them like that.
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