Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Technology Outpaces Morality

I caught this surprisingly sane and non-hysteric piece in USA Today on the sharing of racy cell phone pictures this afternoon. I say sane and non-hysteric because the article just notes the trend without moralizing. Generally we see these cases in the news in relation to high school students, but as the article indicates, this is a trend amongst all young people.

What's fascinating is how this is such a vivid example of technology vastly outpacing sexual mores. Technology moves at it's own breakneck pace, but morals and social norms, even in the internet age, are still way behind. In a way, this is no different than the sometimes virulent and nasty behavior that occurs on blogs and social networking websites. When it comes to all this new technology, there's no guidance, no tradition, and no real standards. Perhaps what we need is a Ms. Manners for the technological age, but the truth is, Ms. Manners merely pontificates on time-honored traditions; she doesn't create rules out of thin air.

Perhaps this all lends some credence to a rather Hobbesian view of human nature and it's the complex web of interactions over time that make up society that serves to civilize us. Or maybe not. Regardless, these new technologies that affect our lives on such an individual level are certainly fertile grounds for some extremely provocative philosophical discussion.


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