Thoughts about the Internet and Morality

by Seiichiro Itoyama

The internet has, I believed, more or less crippled and degraded our sense of morality. Morality, I define as is our ability to predict and judge the outcomes of our actions either satisfying nor satisfying a predetermined or unseen result.

In the physical reality that we inhabit, actions (most of the time) come with consequences, however good or bad they may be. An example would be “theft.” If you go into a CD store and steal a whole bunch, the scanner would detect the bar code attached to your CD and will go off, setting the security guards, and possibly the police into action. What about listening to a unofficial music video (one of those with still images, only streaming music) not provided by the artist him or herself, but rather uploaded by someone on youtube. What if you go one step further and download the full album from Piratebay.

In all the examples, your essential outcome to be gained from the action is listening to the music. The wholly unique thing about the internet is that there are no consequences that come with your actions within the internet (yes the police can track your IP address and arrest you, but what are the chances). It is only action and result, nothing more, cut and dry.

Although our society has tried to reinforce physical morality into the information age, it has no doubt had little to no effect, when it comes to regulating behavior on the internet that can call into question our physical moral perspectives, such as online piracy. Why has it had little effect? Because it was and is too late. The notion that the internet, the technology which drives our information age bends our physical moral perspective has become justified by mostly the users (and creators) of the internet. Maybe this is because the internet hasn’t had much time to mature yet, since it’s only been 60 years since the concept has been around and implemented.

As the title of the post states, this is just a thought that has been in my mind for a while, and I do not have any resolution about this issue. However, I believe that both the creators and users of the technology must have absolute conviction, responsibility and belief to drive the moral standard of how the technology can be used.


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