Jeff and Magda: Ethics in Cyberspace
Jeff and Magda, seniors at a small rural college, had been dating each other since they were freshmen. Jeff loved Magda and he planned to propose to her after they graduated in the spring. At the same time, though, he reluctantly recognized that their relationship had fallen into a bit of a rut over the last six months or so, and he missed the excitement and romance of their first year together. Although he was troubled by these conflicting feelings, Jeff was unsure what to do about them.
One day while he was surfing MySpace.com, Jeff decided, on a whim, to create a fake user profile for the person he wanted to be in his fantasies. He spent quite a bit of time researching and designing the profile of his imaginary persona, a rap singer/flamenco guitarist/snowboarder/kung fu expert who went by the user name “MoonDog13.”
Jeff inserted photos of an obscure young Romanian actor he found online into MoonDog13’s user profile. He posted lyrics to rap songs he wrote on MoonDog13’s page and joined online user groups for those interested in flamenco guitar, snowboarding, and kung fu. In very little time, MoonDog13 had made a number of online friends, many of whom were admiring young women. MoonDog13 loved to flirt with these girls.
Jeff told Magda nothing about MoonDog13, even when the time he spent online managing the fictitious life of his alter ego began to interfere in his relationship with her. He justified this decision based on the belief that MoonDog13 was an imaginary figure who existed only in cyberspace. As long as fantasy didn’t cross into reality, there was no reason Jeff had to feel guilty about anything MoonDog13 said or did.
Write a 500-600 word essay that answers the following:
- Explain how Jeff’s actions are ethical or unethical.
- Like Jeff, people in general have a reputation of acting differently in cyberspace than they do in the real world. Are the ethics of cyberspace any different from those of the real world? What about fantasy—are the ethics of our private desires different from the real world? Are we ethically obliged to disclose our fantasies to our loved ones? Discuss if ethics are different in the specified conditions.
The format of the report is to be as follows:
- Typed, double spaced, Times New Roman font (size 12), one-inch margins on all sides, APA format.
- Type the question followed by your answer to the question.
- In addition to the 500-600 words required, a title page is to be included. The title page is to contain the title of the assignment, your name, the instructor’s name, the course title, and the date.
- You will be graded on the completeness and quality of your answers, the logic/organization of the report, your language skills, and your writing skills.
- Submit your assignment at the beginning of class, Week 4.
In the particular case of Jeff and Magda, the cyber identity of Jeff is not ethical. The reason of this is that he has hidden an act which has to be only with her girlfriend Magda. To some extent he is ethical to fantasize about the life which he had always wished to live for, but when it comes to the flirting with the other girls than it is not ethical on his part to do such act. It is important to present this act as an ethical one if he had not been serious about the relationship of him with Magda. Another reason for Jeff’s actions to be non-ethical is that he was cheating on many people by the fake profile he has created.
Due to Jeff’s fake identity, many people would be indulged in fallacy and they would be inspired by him or her and raise more expectations. Regardless of the fact that this might have a negative impact on the other people, many people like Jeff play with the emotions of the other people and make a fool out of them just for the sake of enjoyment for the lesser period of time. After all, a crime is a crime. There are two characteristics of the cyberspace which makes it difficult for people to transfer ethical behavior to the online environment.
The first characteristic is the feeling of anonymity. Jeff and the people indulged in such activities have been making the point that it is easy to feel invisible on the Internet. Most people often believe that they are “invisible” online because they cannot be identified and can get away with more, however, this actually isn’t true and modern computer forensics makes it very easy to track a user online. (Thiyagu, 2008)
The second characteristic is distance. On the Internet, many people do and say things to others that they would never consider doing to someone face to face. Because people are unable to see the direct consequences of their actions, they often think that what they are doing won’t harm anyone else. Actions on the Internet still have the same repercussions as actions in the real world. The people need to know that using the internet is a privilege, not a right, and that improper use has consequences.
However, unlike what people described decades ago, the relationship between cyberspace and the life of the real world is not the same. As the ubiquity of internet increases, the people would gradually realize that cyberspace and the traditional living space are not separated from each other, cyberspace is not the “escape” but the extension of people’s daily life. Moreover, using terms like “virtuality” and “reality” to describe, what actually is considered as the entities are in the contrast; but the fact is that there is no such a clear distinction. (Tolu, 2017)
It is important to note that there is a difference of desires between the real and the world of fantasy. Moreover, it is sometimes not necessary to disclose the cyberspace identity to the loved ones especially when the identity is not harming them in any of the ways. The ethics are different for the different and the specific conditions that are sometimes similar and at times contrasting in both the worlds. So, it is important to have a limit in creating the fantasy in the cyberspace so that it does not affect the personal life of a person in any of the ways. The cyber life sometimes gets so much involved in the real world that the person they cannot get rid of the fake identity that he or she has created to fantasize. It is important to create the balance between the world of fantasy and the world of reality.
Thiyagu, A. (2008). Establishing a Strong Identity through Cyber Branding. SSRN Electronic Journal, 20(12), 13-17.
Tolu, H. (2017). Communication Between Real-World and Cyber-World. International Journal of Information Communication Technologies And Human Development, 9(3), 38-54.