Deception in the virtual world by jonathan matusitz

The author begins this analysis by pointing out how the internet is a completely different environment from the ‘ real’ world and how this affords people with the opportunity to define themselves differently than they might be physical. This concept is understood within the definition of the term virtual, in which something isn’t real, but is just as if. While we think of this as being a relatively new phenomenon, Matusitz points out that even as early as Plato, there was such a concept as virtual reality in the ‘ textual selves’ of authors. From this perspective, it is suggested that the mind itself is a virtual being and people are caught between various levels of virtual selves as they shape and define themselves in physical space and cyberspace.
The internet has provided scientists already working on understanding the link between mind and matter with a tremendous tool for understanding. This is because the internet provides the individual with the means to freely explore their own uniqueness without the limiting qualities of the physical body. While we were previously limited by space and time, the internet eliminates both of these restrictions as well, enabling us to interact in a meaningful way with people who live thousands of miles away and in differing time zones. As a result, even our modes of communication are changing as people begin reading through hypertext, a non-linear yet still ordered way of understanding.
Within this new world, deception plays as important a role as it does in the ‘ real’ world with the difference that it is much more believable in the online environment. Deception in the virtual world can take many forms and is not always intentional. For example, deception takes place most often through a process of omission, where the web user is unable to incorporate all of what they mean within their statements or as they attempt to conceal specific facts about themselves in order to protect themselves from cyber predators. One perspective on this creation of an alternate self or selves in cyberspace is that the individual is given the rare opportunity to be several selves at once, understanding their personality to be highly complex and able to explore various avenues of their interests. In this sense, virtual selves are not deceptions but only different aspects of the self.
Having proven that the internet provides a vast realm in which deception can take place through the various presentations of signs and symbols necessary to define the self, either intentionally or unintentionally, the author suggests that there is a great deal more study to be done in this field. What is real, what is deception, what is intentional and what is not are all elements that must be better understood as the world enters into its new era of cyber-possibilities.