When working online, it is important to remember that our interactions there should be reflective of our interpersonal interactions. Many internet users somehow perceive that their internet identity is separate from their real life interactions face to face with others (Hauptman & Motin, 1994). Our internet lives, however, should not be treated as separate and unequal and instead should be viewed as an extension of our face-to-face interactions. Internet users should be “sensitive to the misuse of our tools, our destructive devices, our pollutants, and our untried ideas” (Hauptman & Motin, 1994). Our empathy toward others and our morality shouldn’t stop when we go online. In fact, it should be a heightened moral experience to ensure that the technology we use and the interactions that we have are all governed by a firm values and morals system that enhances our online lives.
Each internet user has a moral obligation to treat the information shared and the people with whom they interact in an ethical way. This mutual agreement will provide a safe space online free from “rudeness, vulgarity, or hogging” of time and space online (Hauptman & Motin, 1994). Just as we wouldn’t want to contaminate the planet with trash, our online spaces should be free from errors and fake information (Hauptman & Motin, 1994). Users should keep information shared online clear, concise, and truthful. They should also be respectful and tolerant of all views shares online for the definition of tolerance is to put up with something with which you personally do not agree. No individual or group wants to be censored as it is a hallmark of intolerance and bigotry, which are both against the code of moral ethics. If a user is confused about what they should share online, they should be guided by the rules of professionalism (Hauptman & Motin, 1994). Despite online venues being used for personal sharing, a general professional confidentiality and privacy should be practiced online (Hauptman & Motin, 1994). Before sharing something, it is best to determine if it is true, morally just, and valuable to share. If the information does not encompass these parameters, it may be something confidential or private that shouldn’t be viewed in the public arena of the internet. Cyberspace is not a separate universe in and of itself; it is an extension of our everyday lives (Hauptman & Motin, 1994). Therefore, we should seek to find a moral high ground beyond reproach in which to conduct our interactions to ensure that cyberethics are being upheld to the greatest standard.
Hauptman, R., & Motin, S. (1994, March). The Internet, cyberethics, and virtual morality. Online. p. 8.Edit
- The authors, Hauptman and Motin, are both professors and reference librarians at St. Cloud University who teach courses in media technology and multiculturalism. Their audience is mainly college and university students, but their themes encompass the morality of cyberethics in a way that can reach to all areas of education and professionalism. This work specifically deals with virtual morality and how it should be equal to our interpersonal morality, not separate from it. Hauptman and Motin give practical insight on the development of cyberethics as well as tips for maintaining ethical and moral standards when working online.