While researching scholar literature on the unique virtual environment of Second Life, research findings reveals how situated scholars center their content on the wide array of opportunities in anonymity the virtual world offers. Most literature reviews portray how anonymity in Second Life has promoted healthy identity development through self-disclosure without fear of inhabitation of particular norms and beliefs. However, other scholar works have argued on how anonymity has led to the development of fragmented identity through the dissociation of individuals’ online behaviors from other aspects of their life. With respect to that, this paper will aim at providing in-depth analysis on the mixed relationship between anonymity in Second life and how ethics are confronted through virtual worlds in online identities.
In his article ‘Second Life’s strange second life’ Chris Stokel-Walker provides more understanding to the complex world of second life and why more and more people are constantly participating in the virtual world;
People come to the Second Life universe for different reasons: some go there to escape their reality and to stretch the boundaries of their lives in way forbidden by the constraints of their bodies or the norms of society. Some go to meet friends and family; there are some who want to create buildings, paintings, and whole new words. And some – big companies and small entrepreneurs- hope to make a living
This may be true, as Hunter Walk maintains, ‘We thought of Second Life as complementing your first life” (4). Further describing this statement is on how Second life was conceived as a virtual world that gave individuals a set of choices that were normally not available in reality. “In your first life you don’t necessarily get to fly. Here you can fly. In your first life you can’t chose what you look like. Here you can choose what you look like – and its malleable”. Leading to high preferences levels in the online interactions, Second Life has become the leading 3D virtual world as its users have had the access to explore the unique virtual environment where one can be whoever he prefers, build and sell whatever one imagines and have fun with others from all over the globe .
In pursuit of addressing how virtual worlds play a role in confronting ethical problems, in the book ‘Social and Ethical considerations in Virtual Worlds’ Robert W. Kerbs (15) analyzes the current state-of-affairs focusing particularly on what individuals in online virtual worlds deem acceptable and unacceptable in forms of behavior. He describes how most activities carried out over internet based virtual worlds like Second life are mostly innocuous but often other activities could be considered questionable in not satisfying acceptable social and ethical norms . Attributing to this is how user-initiated actions in virtual worlds are detached from fears of consequence that are realized in the physical world .
A review of scholar literature draws a distinction between Second Life as role playing forum and a simulator. Comparing to other traditional or role-playing devices, Second Life has been identified to be attributed with the potential in enhancing a sense of realism and the sense of ‘being there’. Moreover, anonymity created result of individuals ‘hiding’ behind Avatars have helped players in empowering them to take risks. Taking of risks have been made possible due to the characterized lack of consequences associated with actions in the virtual world consequentially leading to individuals honestly expressing themselves in private concerns inevitably overcoming their fears. However, concerns of virtual world interactions have been noted with respect to confrontation of ethical issues. Concerns of loss of one’s privacy, fear of exploitation and the loss of identity are the majority of these concerns and individuals are encouraged to apply a number of mechanisms that can be utilized to help the transverse of these new virtual worlds through safe, secure and confident manners.