9 Answers | Add Yours
Communication technology has made us more intrusive in to the minutiae of other people's lives. One of the big turn offs for me with Facebook is that work colleagues will send endless feeds about making lunch, walking the dog and inconsequential detail that is of fno interest to other people. This has has gone beyond the ordinary individual: celebrities tweet pictures of their shoes, themselves without makeup, etc etc, and these banal details are called news!!! We seem to have become obsessed with detail but less concerned about the bigger picture.
I don't think technology has changed moral values for most people. Technology has probably made it easier to communicate those values, which sometimes leads to increased conflict when people with different values come into contact. If you're including medical advances in knowledge and practice under your general term of "technology," then there are huge new ethical areas that need to be addressed and that are forcing many people to reevaluate their morals and beliefs. But I don't think that is what you are referring to.
I would have to say that people tend to feel a little more at ease with their feelings when "protected" by a screen (phone or computer). Things they would not say to someone's face may be easier with certain degrees of separation. Another point is that things have become far too easy to access given the Internet. No longer do people have to be discreet when it comes to accessing certain things. Morals seem to have lessened in importance when inside one's home.
One example that I've noticed is that people are much more likely to angrily vent their frustrations via written communication--emails, Facebook, texting--than they ever would have in face-to-face encounters. Politeness and social grace often goes out the window when it comes to saying what's on a person's mind when the keyboard is used instead of one's vocal chords.
The perception of crime may have changed in some areas due to technology. It seems worth wondering if the Wall-Street Credit-Default swaps and other machinations that led to the market crash five years ago would have taken place had investors and institutions been smaller, been dealing with actual people instead of numbers on a screen, and had thought of those numbers as units of currency instead of simply as units.
Studies have shown that most people are willing to steal a little under the right circumstances and willing to steal a lot if what they are stealing is abstracted just a bit from old fashioned units of commodity (actual dollars).
When money stops being money, the stigma of theft is reduced to an extent that reasonably leads to a question about a shift in our moral relationship to money and in our understanding of the morally "acceptable" limits of theft.
I don't know if technoogy has actually changed our values but it certainly has made it more possible to behave immorally. The sexual and violent content on the internet can be viewed without anyone ever knowing. Anything you can imagine is out there with the click of your mouse in the privacy of your own home, no one has to know what you are seeing or who you are corresponding with. Adultery sites are common, so are illegal pornography sites, and sites full of crime scene and other violent photos. Additionally I am disappointed by the way people use the internet to say and do things they would never do in person. You can slander anyone, with no proof and no consequences. You can say things that are completely innappropriate and offensive, that most people would never say face to face, for fear of the reaction/consequences with little or no consequences. That to me shows a slackening of values and morals that concerns me. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. And if you wouldn't say it in person, you know it is wrong, so doing on the internet also shows a lack of respect for others and basic morality.
Changes in technology have, perhaps, laid bare (literally, in some cases) what our standards of morality are, but I agree that these changes probably have not changed our moral values that much, at least not any more than any of the multitude of other factors. Demographic trends, I think, contribute to changes in what is morally acceptable than anything else.
I do not think that technology really has changed our values. I do not, for example, think that we are more sexually permissive today than we were in the '60s, long before cell phones and computers. Our moral values are changing, but I do not think they are changing because of technology. I think they are changing because moral values seem to change fairly constantly in human history.
Mass communication has made it possible to express viewpoints on issues on a scale that was not possible before. Electronic communication allowed programmers to put images and words in front of us that we received in a more or less passive state, as opposed to the more active process of reading.
The availability of violent and sexually explicit subject matter has probably made our society more permissive than it would be otherwise. It has affected our moral values in that sense, although our moral values are still very similar to what they've always been in a very general sense.
We’ve answered 317,686 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question