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Ethics in virtual reality - friendship, love, identity disguise and ghosting

petra.skachova
Level 4

I think it's just about time to set and share some rules for virtual reality, and attempt a little ethics guide ?‍:female_sign:. I wrote this article for Oculus Community Italy (Oculus VR) about ????, ??????????, ???????? ???????? ??? ???????? as I noticed that the virtual universe is becoming a little wild and it would be great if respect, kindness and care would become a part of this new virtual world (also on social networks generally).
Let me know what do you think about it, comment, like and share.
Did you experience some of these situations yourself? How did you handle it?

Since the virtual reality has quickly became our daily companion in work, gaming and even social relating, it's undeniable it owns the future of social relationships and will likely take over the classic social network as we know it today. We should start to worry about the ETHICS and list some of the common problems and fails that would be preferable to avoid. There is an ethic code on Facebook, Instagram and websites/apps dedicated to meeting new people, forums and elsewhere, but what about the virtual reality? Things there can become even more real and there's a lot in steak. And since I've lately experienced a little case for itself, let's try to make a list of values that should be clearly respected or avoided. Feel free to add some of your ideas in the comments down below:

1) ? REAL PEOPLE - Remember there are real people behind the avatar and the VR headset. No matter their ethnicity, age, social rank and sex, they have the same right as you do and since they live on Earth, too, it makes them equal to you


2) ? PRIVACY - If you befriend a person, just notice that he/she dedicates you time as well as you do, and should you enter in audio conversation where some personal aspects of each other's lives are revealed, keep them for yourself and respect their privacy


3) ?‍?IDENTITY QUEST - The real people on the other side of the headset trust you that you are either a man or a woman, with that given name if you come to reveal it at one point. So why does it happen that I enter in Bigscreen and find a person I previously blocked as some weirdo, asking now for unblocking and all of a sudden the name has changed and the avatar too. But I swear it was someone else before. Please, do not trick people in the VR, some jokes are rather creepy then funny.


4) ? LOVE AND FLIRTS - It's absolutely ok to meet new people in the virtual reality, as it adds some twist to the relations. You don't just text someone on a 2D screen, you meet his/her avatar (hopefully similar to the real thing), you talk, play, engage in activities together and travel to virtual environment as you get to know each other better. Do not ever fake a love or attraction interest in someone for days, tricking the other's mind, just to completely disappear all of a sudden. Would you do that in the real life, too? If your answer is "yes", analyze your behaviour. Keep in mind that real people are talking to you on the other side, they are sensitive and deserve to be treated right. Just imagine if someone did that to you, Walk in their shoes for a while. Trust is a fundamental value.


5) ? GHOSTING - is also connected with the previous point and is massively spread, like a social virus, to many other platforms, FB included. You establish quite a "solid" relationship, whether it's love or a friendship, share some personal and even intimate details, build everyday little habits and rituals, even exchange your real life contact (included photo and video often times) and talk on the phone..and then BOOM! Hallo?, is anybody there? A wormhole digested and warped in time this "person" and sent it apparently to a new dimension from which he/she cannot reach to us anymore?. Is it even remotely possible in 2020 to lack a way to contact a person? To lose all of a sudden the possibility to do so? The cold answer is No. Infact, from outside the bubble, that before hosted the two of you together, you see that other person many times online, happily interacting and living as before. It's just that he/she doesn't return your calls anymore, reads (or even doesn't) your messages that remain unanswered. Now there can be some serious reasons why a person doesn't want to be in contact with you anymore, maybe you misbehaved, offended or otherwise disrespected him or her. But if you just KNOW you didn't, there is no reason on Earth why the other one should ignore you. He might have the reasons to interrupt a contact, after all you did not sign a contract, but it's actually a question of education to let the other person know what's wrong and that he/she calls it over if you try to reach out and remain without answers. Everyone deserves a decent treatment. Don't mess with people's trust or emotions just because you hide behind a virtual reality.


6) ??HOLY OPINION - since the human being is equipped with a mouth and brainz, it always sports thousands of different ideas. And that's fine. Everyone has a different origin and life experience on which to base proper points of view. So if you really fancy Chicago Bulls and he doesn't, well who cares? If she is orthodox and you are not, so what? Take it as a chance to learn something new. Learn to listen more, learn to learn again... Respect is at the top of everything.

This is all folks 🙂, and I hope you enjoyed this article. Please comment, share, discuss this topic!


 ?Petra from Oculus Community Italy

9 REPLIES 9

DaftnDirect
Volunteer Moderator
Volunteer Moderator
It's an interesting subject.

Personally, I've always tried to apply the simplest of approaches to any form of online communication... and that's to treat it as the same as it being face to face. So for me (and I think most people here), the same need to be honest applies.

But like you mention, not everyone is honest all of the time, or perhaps it's true to say everyone is dishonest some of the time, and online, the potential is for anyone who has nefarious motivations, can much more easily deceive, when they're effectively anonymous. Anonymity just brings out the worst in a few people. I genuinely think it's a few, but those have the potential to be quite harmful if there aren't sufficient safeguards in place.

That's the challenge for every social media company and every developer of software with social capabilities.

Intel 5820K OC@4Ghz, Titan X (Maxwell), 32GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4, ASRock X99 Taichi, Samsung 500Gb 960 Evo M.2, Corsair H100i v2 Cooler, Inateck KTU3FR-4P USB 3 card, Windows 10 Pro v20H2 (19043.1081)

wuzp
Level 8
With regards to point 3, 4 and 5; watch episode five of "Upload" and extrapolate for yourself the future of catfishing.  If VR is ever to be taken as a serious social tool, government intervention will be required.  In countries like China, your WeChat (Chinese FB) profile is tightly bound to your real-life ID.  If Tencent ever develops an Oculus-like product, it will be "Game Over."

Luciferous
Level 12
I think either you are a decent person or you are not. I am not sure making rules will change that. I doubt any trolls would continue reading after point 1, especially as it is kind of obvious and a little condescending.

Some people take part for the anonymity and release from normal social etiquette. 

snowdog
Level 15
No different from any social networking platform tbh.
"This you have to understand. There's only one way to hurt a man who's lost everything. Give him back something broken."

Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever

Zenbane
Level 15
I grew up in a pretty rough neighborhood. From an early age you had to develop some thick skin fairly quickly. Both proverbially and literally. As time goes on, I think people start to learn that how we "feel" about interactions is within our control. At least to a certain degree.

If I'm in a heated online debate and someone starts to personally attack me, I don't get too invested emotionally. I certainly don't rage. In my case, I suppose I start to feel the type of emotions that aren't considered appropriate or correct. For example, I tend to feel excited and perhaps feel a small sense of joy! But I think that sounds worse than it really is. When you see fighters hug at the end of a match (e.g. Boxing, MMA), that's more on par with my general sentiment towards confrontation.

Granted, there is the other end of the spectrum where two people can turn out to be bitter enemies. But I think that's okay too. In both cases, there's a milestone achieved in both individual's lives. A conclusion has been achieved:
  • Two people come to terms with some common ground they have.
  • Two people conclusively determine that they have zero common ground.
Both outcomes are beneficial, and can provide a clearer path forward. Confrontation brings a sense of finality to a situation.

In contrast, I tend to feel that there is more harm done when we:
  • Avoid dealing with issues we may have with one another.
  • Dance around any strong feelings and passions we have on a matter.
  • Suppress raw expression of how we truly feel on an issue.
Avoidance eludes finality, and instead allows for lingering tensions, which leads to a plethora of other negative thoughts and emotions.

With all that in mind, it's no wonder that GHOSTING happens nowadays. If you look at all the considerations posted in the OP's list, then is it really possible to remove someone from your life without ghosting them? How can one possibly tell another person that they no longer want them in their lives if they are supposed to:
  1. Consider that they are real people that are "equal" to you.
  2. Respect their feelings about privacy.
  3. Respect their opinion.
If people are supposed to monitor, filter, and suppress expression of exactly how they think and feel about another person or situation... then okay! But then you best get ready to live in a proverbial haunted house, 'cause ghosting is all you're gonna get!

So either toughen up and allow people to make you feel bad when they express exactly what they think of you; or learn to accept that you are prone to getting ghosted as people are forced to act without expression.

You can't have it both ways. You can't say, "don't leave me," but also say, "you can only stay if you don't make me feel bad."

Na' mean?

DaftnDirect
Volunteer Moderator
Volunteer Moderator
Yeah, deal with people as you find them and adapt to the situation as much as you can because it's unlikely that you'll be able to change their behaviour very much.

Developing a thick skin is good advice and the other side of the coin is having moderation when possible to make the environment not only attractive but functional. For me it's just the deceptive element of people's behaviour that I think can be a problem for some, particularly when emotions are invested. Talking to people who are disagreeable but honest is usually fine for most people and can stimulate a conversation. You can also chose to continue interacting or not if the other person is honest.

For me, though it's just the deceptive element that irks, avoiding bans with new accounts for example, luckily that doesn't happen much.

Intel 5820K OC@4Ghz, Titan X (Maxwell), 32GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4, ASRock X99 Taichi, Samsung 500Gb 960 Evo M.2, Corsair H100i v2 Cooler, Inateck KTU3FR-4P USB 3 card, Windows 10 Pro v20H2 (19043.1081)

Zenbane
Level 15
Oh yeah. My comments were just a general sentiment towards interactions of people. But we definitely need Moderators and other forms of policing in place; or else it would be pure chaos! lol

Like with most things in life, all things in moderation. Anything in excess or extremes will likely end in either mental and/or emotional distress.

petra.skachova
Level 4


It's an interesting subject.

Personally, I've always tried to apply the simplest of approaches to any form of online communication... and that's to treat it as the same as it being face to face. So for me (and I think most people here), the same need to be honest applies.

But like you mention, not everyone is honest all of the time, or perhaps it's true to say everyone is dishonest some of the time, and online, the potential is for anyone who has nefarious motivations, can much more easily deceive, when they're effectively anonymous. Anonymity just brings out the worst in a few people. I genuinely think it's a few, but those have the potential to be quite harmful if there aren't sufficient safeguards in place.

That's the challenge for every social media company and every developer of software with social capabilities.


Exactly as you say DaftnDirect, I agree, you got the point. Let´s hope that everyone will be aware of his/her responsability when dealing with other people on the other side.

petra.skachova
Level 4

Zenbane said:

I grew up in a pretty rough neighborhood. From an early age you had to develop some thick skin fairly quickly. Both proverbially and literally. As time goes on, I think people start to learn that how we "feel" about interactions is within our control. At least to a certain degree...
__

Thanks for your comment Zenbane, you showed the shadier side of the topic, which is also good to face. Maybe you are right, we will never get people to act as we want and deserve, but that´s because there are many users who just don´t care. Obvisously the reality works as you wrote and I´m aware of that, still I don´t agree with people behaving that way : ) Maybe the problem is that I´m a female 😄 so I tend to attach to some values, and hate injustice. this is topic that we could write hours about, the VR will put our society under new social exams, as it´s different that in a 2D social networks.