In Plato’s Republic, the Greek philosopher writes of the Ring of Gyges, a magical ring that renders the wearer invisible and thus allows him to perform any action without being discovered. In such a situation, asks Plato, why would the wearer still act morally? Conclusion: morality is only a social construct that evaporates once there is no danger of being made responsible by society for your actions.
Inventing a device to make a person invisible is still some way into the future but we do have a very close approximation of Plato’s thought experiment: the anonymous Internet troll. Like the Ring of Gyges, an anon avatar allows a person to do things without people knowing who did it. The anon avatar’s actions do not invite any repercussions for his real self. How then do people perform while wearing this virtual Ring of Gyges?