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Independence and Morality

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The question of morality and being a better individual.

With so many vices at our disposal and their proliferation more accepted, it is difficult for even the most dedicated of young urban philosopher to withstand the assault. We laugh in the spectacle of celebrity debauchery, and subconsciously mimic their behavior. So the question is this: Will a purge of unessential social crutches like consumer electronics allow us to see clearly the truth of morality and reason? If we shun high definition television, step away from 24/7 computer engagement, and shock people with an inability to immediately communicate with us—are we left with an essential self who is independent, and therefore morally righteous? To quote Cicero's Discussion at Tusculum, “The whole point of morality is its independence.” I think we would be hard pressed to say that we are independent, in any sort of way, from what we are provided in our consumer culture. An example:

“So say you go about this whole getting rid of your cell phone thing. Say we go to meet up for a movie and I'm on the 2nd floor and you're on the first. I can't call you and find out where you are. And we don't see the movie just because you didn't have a cell phone.”

This was the argument a colleague of mine used against my renunciation of cell phone use. In his thinking, the necessity of cell phones illustrated the very point I intend to make—we cannot be happy people when we rely on inanimate objects. Somehow, sometime, we lost our ability to navigate our social lives without mobile phones. I would submit that the further we go down this path, the more we distance ourselves from being able to be happy people. Epictetus remarked, “If it's freedom you seek, then wish nothing and shun nothing that depends on others, or you will always be a helpless slave.”

To me, freedom is happiness. Cell phones rot that freedom.

When our social lives depend on these abstract devices that serve no real purpose other than to muddle what should be no more complicated than, “Meet me at 9:00 in front of the theater I will be outside,” we jeopardize our own happiness and independence.

It's happening already: Independence from these machines is unthinkable. And that's if we voluntary remove ourselves from its grasp. What then if an individual is expectantly removed? Say you're road tripping through the Utah mountains at 2am and your GPS cuts outs. Do you know how to read a map? Is there even one in the car?

Morality is Independence. Independence is happiness. Cell phones are not.

Simply put, by The Commodore