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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Do things we do in a virtual world count as our deeds?

This is a dilemma surely faced by all of us these days. It has become increasingly hard to avoid the virtual world. It draws us in through Facebook, chatting, texting and an increasingly complex and realistic array of video game systems and devices. The problem is not only staying in touch with the real world and our actual life, while that is in itself a problem. All these things are addictive. Just like cigarettes and other drugs, they are meant to be addictive, designed to take over and draw us in. How far do we let them take over our lives? It is our life, one that we are undoubtedly answerable for. Can we let entertainment take over?

The other matter worth much thought is: what are we doing in the virtual world? If we are raising horses and buying sheep, or trying out skydiving, it seems harmless enough. Provided we can bring the same amount of energy to our real lives. But if we are gunning down people, engaged in warfare, acting out brutal and bloody acts, we really need to ask ourselves. Is this allowed under the guidelines Islam gives us for living a righteous life? Would we feel ok doing the same acts in real life? If the answer is NO, why is it ok in a simulated situation that looks and feels real?

Sadly, I know of too many kids who have Facebook pages they are too young to have, whose parents buy them Teen and Mature rated games that they clearly should not be playing. Does our responsibility as parents end in the virtual world? If we would not buy our kids guns and let them run around with them, how can we let them be 'virtual assassins'? These games are not like a movie watched once and forgotten. They are played daily for long periods of time. How can they not affect a developing personality? Do we really need 'studies' to tell us what is right or wrong? Is our own brain, our conscience, not enough?

So many questions, burning questions, that need answers as future generations spill blood and guts on a computer screen. Where are the answers?

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