Information Society: Helping Humans or Dehumanizing Them?: The Information Society has Developed many ways to help People with Psychological Problems, but it is a Mixed Blessing and should be Evaluated as Such
Prof. George A. Lotter.
People construct their identities and meaningful discourses partly around the science and technology in everyday life, and some even predict that one day homo sapiens will change into techno sapiens. At a conference on new directions in the humanities this development should be taken seriously, and discussed whether it is helpful or detrimental to humans.
A good example of the ambiguity of the information society is seen where people with psychological and other problems can be helped via the internet in what is called E-THERAPY or online counseling.
Some of the ADVANTAGES this kind of help could be: Immediacy; Anonyimity; Accessibility; Cure against loneliness; Not limited to locality and time; Attractive to individualistic people; Time-saving. On the other hand, there are also many DISADVANTAGES, of which the following could be mentioned: No interpersonal interaction (body language etc) or visits; “Disqualification” (stop writing, delay answering); Hide behind the internet; Easy to dodge negative issues; Can become an addiction; Therapist can treat the counselee as a number with ready-made answers.
In this paper it will be discussed how this new tool can be used properly and what safeguards can be built in regarding privacy, protection of human rights and ethical issues according to the declaration of the World Summit on the Information Society of 2003. Possible solutions to these issues will be proposed in order to show how this side of information society can be used without dehumanizing people.
Prof. George A. Lotter (South Africa)
Professor in Practical Theology
School for Ecclesiology
Born Ermelo (in the province now called Mpumalanga), South Africa, and was minister of the Reformed Church of South Africa in Empangeni from 1978 - 1982. He completed a research project on the Philosophical Roots of Theology after a grant from the Senate Committee for Reformational Studies, was appointed at the PU for CHE in 1985 as Lecturer in Biblical Studies and later in Practical Theology, and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1988 and to Associate Professor in 2000. Acted as Director of the Pastoral Counseling Centre in Potchefstroom from 1996 – 2001 and is Co-author of three books. He has been serving as ruling elder in the Reformed Church of South Africa and Faculty member of the Faculty of Theology at the PU for CHE and subject group Practical Theology. He is a member of the Executive Committees of the Association of Christian Counselors in South Africa and the Southern African Association of Pastoral Work
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)