Is technology eroding morality?

I’m not referring to the content that is transmitted but the speed in which it is transmitted. As technology gets faster and faster, will there come a point when it begins to unravel what makes us human? Have we already reached this point?

This is not a new inquiry (it’s at least as old as TV), but it feels increasingly urgent. Below is an interesting article about Twitter’s effect on the brain.

Excerpt: Scientists warn of Twitter dangers

(CNN) — Rapid-fire TV news bulletins or getting updates via social-networking tools such as Twitter could numb our sense of morality and make us indifferent to human suffering, scientists say.

New findings show that the streams of information provided by social networking sites are too fast for the brain’s “moral compass” to process and could harm young people’s emotional development.

Before the brain can fully digest the anguish and suffering of a story, it is being bombarded by the next news bulletin or the latest Twitter update, according to a University of Southern California study.

“If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people’s psychological states and that would have implications for your morality,” said researcher Mary Helen Immordino-Yang…

USC sociologist Manuel Castells said the study raised more concerns over fast-moving TV than the online environment.

“In a media culture in which violence and suffering becomes an endless show, be it in fiction or in infotainment, indifference to the vision of human suffering gradually sets in.”

Research leader Antonio Damasio, director of USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute, said the findings stressed the need for slower delivery of the news, and highlighted the importance of slow-burn emotions like admiration.

Damasio cited the example of U.S. President Barack Obama, who says he was inspired by his father, to show how admiration can be key to cultural success.

“We actually separate the good from the bad in great part thanks to the feeling of admiration. It’s a deep physiological reaction that’s very important to define our humanity.”

Full Article

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