My response was lengthy enough that I am reposting it here.
First off, I am definitely a Resident.
I have been involved in Internet community of some sort since the days of bulletin board systems. I have watched Internet "community" grow and evolve, even as I grew and evolved with it. The one thing I always emphasized with others is to remember that the name on the screen represents a real person, with real needs, wants, and feelings, every much as your name represented you.
From my point of view, a few things became apparent. First off, the sense of time is much faster on the Internet. Relationships and communities can rise and fall in a manner of weeks, versus a manner of years. In general, the Internet - by stripping away our physical attributes in favor of the cerebral - has a tendency to amplify both our good points, and especially, our bad points. Many strive to be themselves, and yet others use the "relative anonymity" to unleash the worst of themselves, using the excuse that "it's not real".
It is very real. What goes on in your mind and thought processes is intangible, but the intangibility doesn't make it any less real. Using the excuse that "it's not real" to abuse other people is a thin excuse, at best, and a baseless justification, at most. If anything, the Golden Rule is more important in a virtual world, simply because there aren't as an immediate a consequence for behaving without thought with others.
3D virtual environments, in my opinion, are the next evolution in Internet community. It is our effort to put a body and a face with the human being who has always been on the other side of the screen...and the further we evolve, the easier it is to hurt other people.
I don't find it surprising in the least that our world here (and others like it) is populated with a goodly amount of people who are homebound, for one reason or another, whether that be physical or mental disability or simply a personality that isn't a RL "social butterfly". I happen to have all characteristics in common; I have been on full disability since 1996. I am also an only child who found more solace in her books and fantasies than she did with other children. Lastly, my career field was computer programming and many of the things associated with it, so I took to the Internet like a fish to water.
In terms of a heightening of character flaws, my bane is coming off too heavy-handed. I have little tolerance for those who are careless with another's feelings, and have no tolerance at all for those who toss away any and all caring just to spew their frustrations out on others. I've worked hard over the years on becoming more diplomatic, as I ran this website, or that IRC network, or volunteered for this service or that service. I am human, however, and as prone to faults as anyone else, and I do have my times when I feel pushed against a wall and am not so diplomatic in my response.
Be that as it may, I love Inworldz. I still have a presence on SL, though it's more for other people than myself. I've spent less and less time on SL. The longer I stay here, the more I find myself frustrated, not only by the limitations in SL, but also by the constant profit-driven atmosphere the provider has created by forcing people to find ways to simply afford to be there. If it wouldn't let a lot of people down I would gladly give up my land and concentrate on my projects here, exclusively. I do struggle with that concept - the one of letting others down - on a daily basis. If it were just me, I would've left SL entirely a long time ago.
My world is here, and at times, I do get very undiplomatic in how I defend it - but that comes from a sense of how precious our community is here, and a knowledge that there are those "out there" who would love nothing better than to destroy it.
Please forgive me for being too fierce at times.