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

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. Moreover, the dynamism of the new media renders the identification of a methodology and of a definitive theoretical approach an impossible task. The new media are open rather to a "cut and paste" of different methods and theories approach.6 Thus, the multi-and trans-disciplinary approach is the only viable methodological option.

Once Web 2.0 appeared and the social element was introduced in the media sphere, allowing the user to create and distribute the content, communication became the main element used in order to define the Internet. Even our dialogue with the world is strongly influenced by the digital paradigm, and often when we ask questions and we give answers we behave like Internet users and content creators. In this respect, Boris Groys emphasizes that Google, for example, "takes over positions occupied traditionally by philosophy and religion, thus becoming first known philosophical machine that regulates our dialogue with the world by substituting "vague" metaphysical and ideological presuppositions with strictly formalized and universally applicable rules of access". …

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