How have 'cell phones' affected society as it has progressed? What ethical and moral issues have been encountered along the way? Include :- - How would you argue that 'cell phones' are/are not moral or ethical?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

All around us we can see that cellphones seem to have captured the basic gist of interaction. They are not even speaking tools anymore- Now they can map our routes, calculate tips, get us some cool games, and go in the Internet.  They are now a small, portable engine for everything we want and need, and that has made us co-dependent on them to do just about everything.

This would bring the moral issue of, is it OK to allow our daily lives to be ran by this device? And the ethical question: To what extent do we want to allow this device to control our daily lives?

However, there is also the argument that times do change, and this is a symptom of changing times. So, why NOT let this device HELP us control our daily lives?

The arguments are endless, but one fact remains: As long as the human is in control of the machine in an instrumentalist and not in a deterministic manner, we will be able to make the best use of it.

I would argue that cell phones might be considered unethical and immoral in saying that people who abuse them can be

a) disturbing others

b) causing potential car accidents

c) opening their privacy to others

d) choosing the wrong time and place to use them

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The reference to the Transcendentalists in the above post is, indeed, germane.  For, the individual is losing not only solitude, but much of his/her humanity in the advancing supremacy of technology.

As students cross a college campus, their heads are bent, eyes focused solely upon their phones, fingers working frantically to scroll through their messages, send messages, etc.

During the absolutely resplendent Spring in the South, for instance, there are so many beautiful blooms upon dogwoods, redbud trees, forsythia bushes, azaleas, petunias, and other flowers, as well as the fresh green of the lawns, yet all this glory of Nature is missed by the phone user who plods through text messages instead.  In their efforts to maintain communication with their friends and family, they have sacrificed the delight and restorative power of communication with Nature which would do much more for them to relieve the stresses of their studies than any machine.

At times, it seems as though people's essence is only in the phone or computer where they sometimes recreate themselves by exhibiting more bravado, etc. than they would vis-a-vis.  And, herein lies the question of ethics and morality.  For, no inanimate object can be bad or good; as Hamlet remarks, "only thinking makes it so."  The phone may, perhaps, afford the bully or the immoral person an expeditious medium for his/her evil intents.  And, the cover of one-dimension rather than the three-dimensions of reality, makes their evil easier for them.

O brave new world that has such people in it! (The Tempest)

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I don't have answers to most of your questions, but I suspect you'll get some opinions from other editors.  I'll just add one aspect of cell-phone use, now that they have become so efficient and able to provide service virtually anywhere.

Cell phones have invaded privacy, and more importantly and completely, they have eliminated solitude.  It's true one can turn a phone off, which allows one privacy, but solitude is virtually nonexistent.  A person is virtually no longer ever completely alone. 

Solitude, so important in the past for, say, transcendentalists in the 19th century, has been eliminated.  Again, as long as a person has a cell phone with him/her, solitude does not exist. 

While in many cases this is a practical benefit--I'm glad to have a phone on a cross country drive in case of emergency--I think it difficult to deny that something changes when a human being no longer routinely experiences solitude.

Anyway, that's my comment, for whatever it's worth. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial