The Danger of Entering the Virtual World
The Internet offers unlimited abilities for the user to conduct research, communicate with others, distribute information or find entertainment. Unlimited information is at the users’ fingertips.
While many people can use the internet without getting themselves in trouble, there is a serious danger for younger users that are not mature enough to understand the dangers that are present. There is an alternate reality to enter into that most parents do not understand, and many children as well as those that are mentally ill, cannot handle. Addictions to the internet, online games or other bizarre cyber-worlds are real, and for some people, their virtual world becomes their reality.
The effects of staring at a computer screen for hours vary from person to person. The repetition of scenes in games will affect people differently, as well. Some people drink alcohol and become addicted, while others do not. Some people smoke and get cancer, while others do not. Some people can eat a lot and remain thin, others get fat. We can see that the effects of these activities varies, as the chemistry of people vary. So it should also be easy to understand that the effects of using the internet or online games can have an addictive effect on some people, while the majority are unaffected. As this technology increases, we do not know how it will affect the users. We’ve gone from primitive Atari games to Wii, where the player enters the game. Technology is rapidly changing, and what we use today is obsolete within a year or so.
Parents are too busy working and trying to take care of whatever needs taking care of to spend much time watching their kids’ internet activities. It seems to be a generational thing where the younger the person is, the more they are likely to be connected to an internet life where they spend much of their time online. The older a person is, generally, the less they seem to be obsessed with the internet.
The misuse of this technology creates unique opportunities for criminals and unique challenges for parents to protect their children, as well as for law enforcement to protect society from the predators.
HBO recently aired a documentary titled LOVE CHILD, a story of the 2010 death of a South Korean baby named Sarang that starved to death as the young parents lived in their virtual world and seemed to not be able to separate reality from virtual. The parents spent 6-12 hours a day playing Prius, an online game. In the game, they earned and raised a virtual child. Reality and virtual became blended. They took care of the virtual child and left the real child to starve to death. www.hbo.com/documentaries/love-child/synopsis.html#/
The South Korean government created perhaps the most advanced internet infrastructure in the world, reported to be worth $7.9 billion annually and 7% of their GDP. With this system in place, South Koreans, primarily younger people, have become obsessed with the internet and online gaming. Millions are reported to be addicted. The idea was to raise a generation of citizens advanced in computer skills. The unexpected consequence is the addiction.
When a crime is committed and can be tied to this addiction, you can expect defense lawyers to try to use this to justify the actions of the perpetrator and move towards a lesser sentence or acquittal. This was used in the South Korean case and will certainly be used in the US in the future. There will be a lot of money to be made by those in the industry of trying to justify the actions of the guilty.
In June two 12 year old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin lured their 12 year old friend into the woods where they stabbed her 19 times. They intended to kill her, but she survived. Their motive? They wanted to impress an online demon, known as “Slenderman.” One of the girls told police that to enter his realm you must kill someone.
A few days later, a 13 year old girl in Cincinnati, Ohio attacked her mother with a knife when the mother came home from work. “...she was wearing a mask, a white mask. She was someone else during the attack,” the mom said. The motive was again an attempted killing to impress Slenderman.
Slenderman is an online demon character found in multiple stories posted on www.creepypasta.com. While many people read these stories and don’t commit a crime trying to impress an online demon, these 3 girls did. The first two girls wanted to enter into his “realm,” to travel from reality to virtual reality. It may sound crazy to a sane rational person, but we are not dealing with sane rational people here.
On May 23rd Elliot Rodger killed 6 and wounded 13 in a mass stabbing/shooting in Isla Vista, California. He left behind multiple videos that he posted on YouTube (www.youtube.com search Elliot Rodger) as well as a 141 page document of his life story, why he planned the attack and exactly how he intended to commit his crimes. If you want to, you can read his document here: www.scribd.com/doc/225936731/Untitled .
From his writing, we can learn a lot about Rodger, but we are only learning what he wanted to record, and only from his perspective. So while his writings are useful, we have to understand they are biased towards his perception of events and reality.
Rodger was the son of a Hollywood film maker. He was able to live a life that very few others can live, attending red carpet film premiers, traveling to Europe and getting things from his parents that many other kids couldn’t get. But he had a mental condition and had severe depression. He didn’t seem to fit in with any group he entered and withdrew from most social settings to be alone. He became obsessed with playing online fantasy and combat video games. As he entered these fantasy worlds, it appears that in his mind, he was draw into the virtual world and away from reality.
“My first experience with WoW [World of Warcraft] was like stepping into another world of excitement and adventure. It was a video game world, but they made it so realistic that it was like living another life, a more exciting life. My life was getting more and more depressing at that point and WoW would fulfill the void.” (page 39)
Perhaps a million people play WoW, but here we have an insane person that is being drawn into a virtual world that he will find more attractive to him than his real world. He is 12 years old at this point.
“This was the point when my social life ended completely. I would never have a satisfying social life ever again. It was the beginning of very lonely period in my life, in which my only social interactions would be online through video games ... I got caught up in it, and I was too young and naïve to realize the severity of how far I had fallen ... It was too much for me to handle, and I stopped caring about my life and my future ... I hid myself away in the online World of Warcraft, a place where I felt comfortable and secure.” (page40)
Rodgers would play WOW as much as 14 hours a day, taking his created characters up 70 levels. (page 54) This had an obvious effect on him and took his warped mind into unknown virtual worlds. Now, if you read Rodgers’ 141 page (it’s torture, but I read the entire document), up to this point you will begin to feel sorry for him. Keep reading, and you will reach a point that you’ll want him to commit suicide and spare society from what he wants to do. Sound harsh? Remember, he killed 6, wounded 13, shot at numerous others to include police officers, and intended to kill many more. His suicide would have spared all those victims. That’s not my opinion, the proof is in his writings and what he actually did.
Rodger became obsessed with having sex with “hot” girls, but none of the girls that he approached wanted to have anything to do with him. He thought that he was special, great and that they should see this and want him. The more he was rejected, the angrier he became. He also became angry with males that he saw with the girls that he thought should want him. His life gets darker and darker as he gets older.
Rodger’s ideas of mass murder progress from age 17 into very detailed planning. He legally buys 3 handguns and knives to use in his killing spree. He spirals down with sex being a major goal that he is not able to obtain, and the more he is rejected, the more he wants to kill the women and their boyfriends that reject him.
“I wanted to kill as many attractive young couples as I possibly could ... I will be a god and they will all be animals that I can slaughter. They are animals ... they behave like animals, and I will slaughter them like the animals they are.” (page 118)
Rodger planned to use not only guns in his killing spree, but also knives and a car to run people over. No gun laws could have stopped him, he intended to use the other two methods as weapons, as well, and there are no knife control or car control laws.
Built into Rodger’s plans is a point where he expects his killing to reach an end point, when he plans for an armed response against him. “When I see the first police car come to their rescue, I will drive away as fast as I can, shooting and ramming anyone in my path until I find a suitable place to finally end my life.” (page 133)
Rodger understands that a police response will be an ARMED response and that at this point he will have to rapidly end his killing, before he is killed by the police. But at no point, does Rodger ever expect any of his victims to resist him with a gun of their own. California has strict gun laws and his victims would be unarmed because of those laws.
When the police arrived on scene, Rodgers did exactly as he planned, ran away, running people down, shooting at pedestrians and ultimately committing suicide as he planned.
The common thread between each of these killers is that they became involved in a virtual fake world, and that they could not see a difference between fake and reality. In their minds they entered, or tried to enter that virtual world. The more realistic video games become, and the more the player is able to “enter” the virtual world, the more we can expect the insane to have a harder time separating reality from virtual. Being able to slaughter people in a virtual world will create a danger from these people that society will have to deal with. There are no easy answers to this. The overwhelming majority of game players and internet users will never commit a crime. As the internet and technology develops, we will never be able to close the lid on the Pandora’s Box that we’ve opened.
Don Boal is the proprietor of Don Boal Books and is certainly a well-read gentleman and patriot. He served in the U.S. Army, as a Curwensville PA/PD law enforcement officer, and was a former President of the Keystone Second Amendment Association. On weekends, Don’s smiling face may be found at significant gun shows in a multiple state area behind a several table booth displaying a large assortment of new Books, Medical supplies and Military surplus. Don Boal may be contacted at [email protected].