Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Ethical Perspectives on Mediated Communication

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Ethical Perspectives on Mediated Communication

Article excerpt

Abstract: Starting from the premise that nowadays media has a privileged status in the way we relate to the other, the paper explores the ethical challenges raised by the growing mediated nature of communication. Since the mediated communication calls for a multidisciplinary examination, the article uses conceptual tools offered by a different framework. First, we draw on M. Buber's ontology of relation in order to discus mediation in terms of authenticity. Then, we analyze different views on the special dynamics of the relation between ethics, religion and mediated communication. In the last part of the article, we emphasize the idea that, in order to acknowledge the true significance of the recent changes that affect the way we communicate, they should be read in terms of a postmodern ethics.

Key Words: mediated communication, ethics, religious experience, mediation, new media, postmodern ethics, difference, Martin Buber.

The recent developments in the field of communication technology have a strong impact on contemporary society.1 Caught in the communicational vortex, we find ourselves out of balance in the face of gadgets which deprive us of the necessary time to reflect upon our current status. Furthermore, given the "dynamic and ever-changing world of media technology which makes any permanent resolution impossible",2 any attempt to outline a relatively stable framework, within which the individual of a communicational society can fit, quickly becomes anachronistic and constantly demands reconsideration. In this context, it is only obvious that the ethical reflection becomes an essential endeavor.

Communication ethics is an extremely wide research area located at the intersection of different disciplines, the variety of topics that fall under the umbrella of communication ethics research being very broad and including issues ranging from the problem of truth and deception, to social justice and human dignity. Today, more than ever, we live in a society constructed at a symbolic level with instruments of media communication. These meanings, built from the vast social repertoire of words and images in which we live, words and images delivered mostly through media and constituting what we experience as reality are "inherently ethical because they imply the choosing of the way in which we define ourselves and our world."3

In the process of this cultural transformation, technology mediated communication occupies a very important place. We are in the middle of a new media revolution - the shift of all of our culture to computermediated forms of production, distribution and communication. Lev Manovich considers that this new revolution is unarguably more profound than the previous ones, such as printing or photography, and that we are just beginning to sense its effects. Digital media revolution affects all stages of communication, including acquisition, manipulating, storage and distribution; it also affects all types of media - text, still images, moving images, sound, and spatial constructions. 4 The new media and the digital revolution represent the core of a global cultural transformation that has a major impact on the manner in which we manipulate, represent and communicate with the world.5

Furthermore, the digital culture becomes the new paradigm of today's reality due to the fact that it is an actual presence in everyone's life which, supposedly, changes the manner in which reality as such is conceived. As Maria Bakardjieva asserts, the Internet is embedded in our everyday life, not somehow fundamentally separated from it. The Internet is no longer a "technological unicum", that requires new methodologies for its study, but it can be approached through a wide range of familiar and established methodologies and disciplines. The impact of new media on the major spheres of our life - personal, professional and social- has manifold facets and demands the approach of the phenomenon from a multidisciplinary perspective. …

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