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Introduction

Kongregate is the kind of website where a person can take on a persona, by means of creating one or more screen names, and partake in various acts that may not be acceptable for that person when they go offline. These behaviors include harassment, stalking, promoting hate speech for various groupings and populations of people and indulging in illicit acts in full detail, some of which are otherwise known as flaming, trolling and cybering among the chat rooms. Albert Bandura is a prominent figure in social psychology and his works have been used and referenced in the field of public health.He has done work on the concepts related to moral disengagement, and these concepts seem to hold significant relevance to the behaviors exhibited in many of Kongregate's chat rooms.


Mechanisms of Moral Disengagement

The mechanisms of moral disengagement include moral justification, displacement of responsibility, disregard for consequences and dehumanization.

Moral justification occurs when a person attempts to add meaning and cause to immoral acts. If an immoral or inhumane behavior seems to have some kind of moral purpose, it is sometimes perceived to be more socially acceptable.

  • I'm going to make this user feel like crap about themselves because they're being annoying to my friends. (It would've sufficed to encourage people to mute/ignore someone who annoys them and save the room from unnecessary conflict.)
  • I don't care what they say or think. Online dating is ****ing pathetic and it needs to be corrected by force in order to get it through to these lovebirds.
  • Do you see the way these people show their affection for one another? It's right out in the open where people can see it. Let's go see if we can find a way to break them up. (Intentionally breaking up a relationship can be seen as immoral but if people think they're doing others a favor to start drama...)


Displacement of responsibility is the act of dissociating oneself from taking responsibility for one's actions. It's a distortion between an individual's actions and the effects that they cause.

  • That 10 year old who was on the chat yesterday ended up going to seek mental help services. It was the parents' fault for not paying attention to what the kid was accessing. (But harassing the kid with a group of friends was completely your choice and your responsibility.)
  • I trolled people. Everyone wanted me to so I did. (That doesn't change the fact that you had the choice to either do it or not.)


Disregarding or misrepresenting consequences is more or less self-explanatory. When people disregard or misrepresent the consequences, they try to minimize the effects of what they caused or try to avoid facing it altogether. It is easier for someone to harm someone else when the negative consequences are minimized or ignored.

  • I don't care if I get silenced or banned. I have over 200 other alternate accounts that I could use and none of them are really developed or have a lot on them anyway.
  • People talking about suicide are just plain funny. You can make fun of them and tell them to do it over and over again and they'll still come back on an alternate account or maybe even the same account. (But what happens if they really do get hurt?)


Dehumanization is also self-explanatory. It is easier for people to commit harmful and violent acts against things that they don't consider to be human beings.

  • Nobody should take online things seriously. Nobody on here is real anyway.
  • Those kinds of people should die. They're nothing more than sub-human wastes of space and air.
  • <Insert a comment about racial or gender superiority here>


We've all seen these kinds of talk all around Kongregate before.


Consequences of Moral Disengagement

Moral disengagement on Kongregate and potentially on similar websites can lead to a number of consequences. Although the list may seem incomplete, it should highlight the urgency for others to think up solutions to this prevalent issue. Below are a list of potential consequences to allowing the issue to perpetuate:

  • Moderating and administrative powers will most likely be rendered ultimately useless.
  • We will see an increased incidence of unhealthy chatroom behaviors from users of all age groups and ethnicities.
  • As with biological diseases, the mindset of giving into the mechanisms of moral disengagement will likely spread to other users who are at risk of adopting it.
  • On a larger scale, the more the userbase deteriorates, the less popular the site will become.


Closing Statement

Feel free to leave any questions, comments, criticism, etc. I'm always welcome to different points of view, even though at times I seem to strongly defend the way I think.

Off-Kong References below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_disengagement

http://faculty.babson.edu/krollag/org_site/soc_psych/bandura_moral.html

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