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Socratic Segment: Ethics crumbling amid technology, dependency

The question this week: So what about ethics?

A recent campus poll showed the majority of students view ethics as the most significant problem facing our nation. What reasons do we see for such a response? Is ethics a societal or an individual responsibility?

Two FGCU students gave their perspectives. Noah Wilson and Veronica Young are graduate students studying education leadership. When asked to name some specific examples of how our society is losing its morality, they gave many.

“More and more people are taking advantage of the system,” said Wilson. “People should be policing themselves and not relying on government.”

A strong theme was that of our welfare state and “handouts” (as Wilson put it) encouraging people to remain on the system.

Food stamps, health care and unemployment are all extremely necessary tools to help those in need. But Americans want to pick those people back up and allow them to become self-sufficient, not create a dependency state.

So the question must be raised: Why would people who are receiving checks from the government give that up and go to work? Certainly, this is the minority of those on welfare, but with food stamp recipients more than doubling since 2006, it is easy to see how much waste potential there is. More than 47 million Americans rely on food stamps, and while our society takes pride in lending a helping hand, there are always those who take advantage of the system.

Another reason given for our ethical decline was modern conveniences and technology. “Today, you see 10 year olds on iPhones everywhere,” said Young.

And she is not alone in her worry of how technology is affecting this generation.

A 2010 New York Times article reported on a family obsessed with technology. When it comes to the children, “Researchers worry that constant digital stimulation…creates attention problems with brains that are still developing [and] already struggle to set priorities and resist impulses.”

Is it ethical to allow our children to immerse themselves in technology whenever and wherever? As technology abounds, do parents have an even greater task of controlling what their kids are exposed to?

This uncharted technology has untold potential, both positive and negative. This is certainly something our generation will have to respond to in the decades to come.

While there are many reasons why our society’s morals may be in decline, is there anything we can do about it?

“[We must] treat others as we want to be treated,” Wilson said. “We need to walk in the footsteps of others and see from their perspective.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself” was the message of Christ 2000 years ago and something we have still yet to master in today’s society. But if we feel strongly enough about our ethical behavior in this nation, we can all make a change in our own lives. When we implement the golden rule, we see others before ourselves. The more we do this, the more ethical we will be.

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