Arnett (2009) says it best when he says we live in “an era defined by difference”(p.210). What this means is that as a society we are constantly facing conflict and different points of view on a daily basis. This has become even more prevalent with the introduction of social media. Social media has been around, roughly, 15 years. This “medium” allows for more people to get out more ideas quickly. What we do with these ideas, and how we accept them, is where communication ethics literacy comes into play.
Since the Internet offers an illusion of anonymity, people feel they can put their ideas out there without thinking about how it will affect others. On my personal Facebook feed, I see my friends and acquaintances post about their opposition to guns, transgender people, and breastfeeding in public. Even though I don’t agree with most of their viewpoints, I still “follow” them and allow their posts to pop up on my page.
Conflicting views are the spice of life. Yes, it’s awesome when you can get people to side with your viewpoint, but at the same time…how boring would it be if we all believed the same thing? I’m the director of debate at my university, and I would lose my job if we all agreed J!! The key to increase communication ethics literacy is to learn to accept differing ideas.
The steps to increase communication ethics literacy are the same for all arenas of life. The text gives a great example when it talks about different dorms. Many colleges have “honors” dorms, and “single sex” dorms. They leave options available to students to pick their “good”. They know that “multiple views of the good exist and contend for attention in the ongoing postmodern marketplace of ideas” (Arnett et al., 2009, p. 211).
Going back to my own personal Facebook page. Working in communication and also having a degree in English, I get the concept of differing ideas. However, many people only want to see their side, and disregard anything that opposes them. It’s easy to get into the trap of arguing on the Internet over silly notions because we get wrapped up in what people say. For me, I just want people to be less narrow-minded and acknowledge the fact that there IS another side to their story. As a debate teacher and coach, I guess this is just innate. I want them to see that they cannot “assume that the Other will think as they (we) do or value what they (we) hold dear” (Arnett et al., 2009, p.212). Now I know I can’t change other people, only myself. To increase my communication ethics literacy, I need to take my “responsibility to learn and discern” and apply it to personal and other settings I encounter. I know that I don’t know everything. Being open-minded and accepting differing view points will make me more literate when it comes to communication ethics.
Arnett, R. C., Harden Fritz, J. M., & Bell, L. M. (2009). Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference. Los Angeles: Sage.