We have peaceful uses and evil uses of nuclear technology. We can use nuclear technology to light up the world or to see the world go up in flames. Nuclear technology has yielded weapons of choice for many countries to use as deterrents to an all-out war from another country, and perhaps as last resort weapons when nothing else can be used to resolve aggression.  The world now has new technology—the Internet in conjunction with mobile phone technology, whose power, in some ways, far exceeds that of nuclear technology.  This technology can help turn lights on, archive information, inform, educate, discuss, research, share, entertain, network professionally and personally; it has also become the principal means for economic, social and political change.  The computer is no more a place for storing data, it is the hub of all communications 24/7; it is a place where people get together to engage in just about every kind of behavior. 

Unfortunately, the Internet and mobile phone technologies are fast becoming weapons of choice.  They are being used for “flash-mobbing,” “flash-robbing,” spreading rumors, waging endless e-mail battles, moving money to personal accounts from another person’s account, hacking private organizations and government for secured information, and hatching evil plans.  It only takes a lone ranger sitting anywhere, with only an inexpensive Notebook, to cause losses to millions of people around the world.  A few people have effectively used the Internet and mobile phone technology to psychologically terrorize the world. One can hardly make the case that the world, with all the developments in science, technology, increased literacy, and social sciences, is increasingly becoming an enjoyable place to live. 

We have millions of published studies in psychology and in related and unrelated fields that have addressed many important issues with the intention of improving our everyday lives.  All well-intentioned organized societies have instituted numerous codes of conduct and severe penalties for misconduct; there are also international codes of conduct. Is the world safer and better because of these codes of conduct? One can argue either way. 

The big question is how do we promote the use of Internet and mobile phone technology for peaceful purposes?  Ancient as well as more modern religions, the fields of education, sociology, psychology, and political science may contain answers. Often the messages are simple and straightforward: be tolerant of diversity of ideas, religions, and cultures, share and be charitable, and use non-violent means to achieve social change.  Yet, we often show more disgust at how someone else worships than at poverty or suffering at large. We show more concern about our own regional interests than the world at large interests.  

World cultures are becoming increasingly exposed to each other as a result of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other sites. Ideas and images go viral within seconds of posting.  Such exposure has the potential to create an awareness of worldwide issues never before possible.  Can this awareness bring us together as one species with the over-arching goal of staying together peacefully, despite unresolvable differences, and working together to eliminate hunger and disease, and to make everyday living in this world more enjoyable? Let us hope so!

About the Author

V. Krishna Kumar

V. Krishna Kumar, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

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