Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Response to Dibbell and Rheingold

The most interesting aspect of "A Rape in Cyberspace" to me is the fact that the entire experience was verbal. When I first read the article, I assumed that the LamdaMOO virtual world had images and a visual experience, similar to Second Life. As the article continued, and after I read Rheingold's "Multi-User Dungeons and Alternate Identities," I realized that the virtual rape occurred in a completely text-based environment. This fact fundamentally alters the nature and scope of the "cyber rape," at least from my perspective. The female victim/player's visceral response is more surprising, but also seems more important. She writes, "Mostly, [this type of thing] doesn't happen here. Mostly, perhaps I thought it wouldn't happen to me. Mostly, I trust people to conduct themselves with some veneer of civility. Mostly, I want his ass." The fact that exu (the female player) could respond so emotionally to words she read (and not actual images she saw) shows how invested players can be in these virtual communities. Perhaps the "rape" was even more powerful and disturbing because of the fact that it did consist only of words. The human mind and the imagination can get carried away when left to their own devices, so I can understand how haunted she may have felt. The violation of her is almost more real because it required her own (however forced) participation in it: He spoke the words, but she had to envision the experience.

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