If the concept of rape is real within digital worlds, then what about relationships? What about people who are married in real life, yet have fictional families and spouses in second life? Is being married to someone other than your real life spouse cheating? Is it only cheating if there’s emotional involvement and genuine fantasy with another person in Second Life? How should couples communicate their virtual engagements/relationships?
The impact of online interactions can be felt in real life, as evidenced in the article A Rape in Cyberspace. The article is old and about MUDs, but the issues which it touches on can be applied to other online encounters and collaborative experiences. The author writes, “what happens inside a MUD-made world is neither exactly real nor exactly make-believe, but nonetheless profoundly, compellingly, and emotionally true.” However, what people feel is subjective. In SL, there’s the Big Six. What the Big Six really means is that there are no pre-existing universal laws for online safety to the point that Linden Labs must instil their own. Yet, at the same time, these community standards are subjective; what one person sees as intolerance does not necessarily mean that the actions carried out are intolerance. In addition, when people assume identities (whether gender, race, orientation, or other characteristics) separate from their own, they run the risk of appropriating these identities in ways that can reinforce intolerant ideas, such as by attempting to role-play stereotypes. With this basis, almost every single user promotes intolerance of some point, just by virtue of the fact that they are creating a digital extension of themselves that is highly focused on appearances.