Ethics and Empathy
This domain concerns online ethical behaviour and interaction with others based on skills such as the ability to recognise and understand the feelings and perspectives of others. Empathy constitutes an essential requirement for positive online interaction and for realising the possibilities that the digital world affords.
A grasp of concepts such as coherence and understanding others’ feelings and reasons is paramount if individuals are to live their online experiences positively.
The concept behind “Ethics” is quite a complex one to define: in Ancient Greece it used to refer to the set of behaviours that an ideal society took as “good” or “positive” in order to keep or achieve peace and order. Something defined as “ethical” not only refers to a set of moral behaviours but comprises the whole idea of moving towards what is good and positive and, moreover, caring for others. Being ethical means acting properly but also, using Baden Powell’s words, doing one’s own best to leave a place better than we found it.
So, online ethics is not only about knowing netiquette, but it’s about caring and acting actively to make online environments more positive, productive and meaningful places. This also involves Empathy: the capacity to understand and feel other people’s experiences, feelings and points of view. This ability is paramount in avoiding violent online radicalisation and promoting positive online behaviours and interactions, especially in a digital world where controversial issues are often discussed without considering that on the other side of the screen there are people like us.