As soon as innovative technology entered the global market and became almost ubiquitous, the issue of online anonymity and the effect that it is likely to have on people’s values and moral standards became a common concern. Specifically, the problem of online anonymity and the absence of reprehensibility for the actions that people can take in the online setting needs to be addressed. While people have the right not to disclose their personal information in the online setting, such as forums and discussion boards, it is also necessary to guard people against cyberbullying and similar types of attacks.
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Herein lies the dilemma of online anonymity and responsibility in the digital setting. Viewing the specified concern from the standpoint of Cultural Relativism, one will have to concede that judging the behaviors of others from the perspective of one’s personal perception of right and wrong would be arrogant (Al-Daraweesh and Snauwaert 24). Therefore, the described ethical dilemma should be addressed by encouraging personal growth as opposed to removing the principles of anonymity from the online environment.
Cultural Relativism and Cybersetting
By integrating the ideas of Cultural Relativism into the online setting, one will be able to design the philosophy with the help of which the issue concerning the lack of responsibility in the cyber setting can be addressed (Manjikian 116). Specifically, by establishing that judging others and their behavior is pure arrogance, one will create an environment in which people will dismiss the communication that they deem as inappropriate or offensive without giving it the benefit of an emotional response since controlling others and their adherence to ethical standards would not be sensible.
While the proposed approach might seem the ultimate solution to the moral responsibility of confronting inappropriate online behavior and engaging in managing the situation, it will only provide a temporary solution to the described concern. By ignoring the specified issue and refusing to make efforts to change other people’s behavior in the online setting, one will cause a gradual deterioration of the global online community, ultimately contributing to its detriment.
Therefore, the identified approach should be seen as a possible way of confronting personal attacks and not the way of managing communication in the digital setting, in general (Manjikian 117). The Cultural Relativism principle that implies the inability to change other people’s values and perceptions disagree with the idea of effective cross-cultural communication and the promotion of diversity.
Viewing the threat of online confrontations and miscommunication as a result of anonymity through the prism of the Cultural Relativism tenets, one will need to agree that it would be unreasonable to apply the same criteria to every single participant. What might seem offensive in one culture would be regarded as passable in another; therefore, given the focus on cross-cultural communication in the online setting, the solution to the dilemma in question can be regarded as self-explanatory.
By viewing anonymous communication as a potential scenario for cross-cultural issues, one would be ready to counteract cyberbullying by establishing the principles of behavior that encourage participants to view each conflict-related situation as relative, which will diminish and even neutralize the effect of a personal attack. While the principles of Cultural relativism may not be the perfect solution to the current problem of online anonymity and the problems that it entails, it offers an interesting stance on the subject matter that may help to reduce the harmful emotional effects of online confrontations.
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Al-Daraweesh, Fuad, and Dale T. Snauwaert. Human Rights Education Beyond Universalism and Relativism: A Relational Hermeneutic for Global Justice. Springer, 2016.
Manjikian, Mary. Cybersecurity Ethics: An Introduction. Routledge, 2017.