Thursday, April 23, 2009

Twitter, Facebook, and Lack of Morality!

Being an avid viewer of television and social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Ryze, I am shocked, nay, slightly disturbed, to read the following news that appeared in Mumbai Mirror. Guess, I should cut down on these, for my own good. In another posting here I had talked of a digital-media-junkie reacting to the news of an earthquake with "How come it is not on Twitter?" We don't believe what's not on Twitter or Facebook. Reality comes to us not through our senses but through online media. Probably, quite reluctantly I must admit that this is part of the social de-sensitisation that I talked about in my blogpost here. If millions of people are de-sensitised thus, we would have no moral values left to judge what is right, moral, and just. We would be too dependent on our gatekeepers - social media - of a dubious nature. Everyday I open the newspapers to rapes kidnappings, robberies; what I don’t know is whether I have to blame it on the economic situation or the loss of moral values. But this incident where a gang of youths raped a US citizen after partying with her goes far beyond my understanding or reckoning. I have heard of date-rape but date-gangrape? I think it’s one of those queer things that happen only in India.

What triggered this thought is a news snippet that appeared in Mumbai Mirror of April 15, 2009: “TV, Twitter and Facebook might keep you socially happy in cyberspace but in real life, social networking sites can harm people’s moral values.”

The study was done at the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California and suggest that digital media culture may be better suited some mental processes than others.

“The study used real-life stories to induce admiration and compassion in 13 volunteers. Brain imaging showed that they needed six to eight seconds to fully respond to stories of virtue or social pain.”

Said author Mary Helen Immordino-Yang,”For some kinds of thought, especially moral decision-making, we need to allow for adequate time and reflection. If things are happening too fast, you may not even fully experience emotions about other people, and that would have implications for your morality.”

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