Manners maketh Metaverse

How can education, business, ethics and digitality become positively intertwined?

The keyword is: Digital ethics.

NOT: The Metaverse (solely).


From the author's wealth of experience: Monday morning. 6 o'clock. Cold. The dog has to go out. So the boots are put on, the down jacket unpacked and the Airpods play the latest Spotify hits. My dog's favorite spot is in the park adjacent to the nursing home across from the house - so that's exactly where we want to go. The tram stop in front of it is crammed with young people who want / have to go to school.

"Hey - how about looking into my eyes and not into your phone?"

A maybe 16-year-old schoolgirl rebukes a visibly perplexed classmate because he ignores the basic rules of social interaction (specifically: the schoolgirl who speaks to him) on his cell phone.

What was it that surprised me?

HER reaction, not his.

Says a lot about me - and about our society.

Menschen die auf Handies schauen.
Social interaction in public? Rarely.

Ad theory:


Parasocial interactions are NOT a substitute for social contact. Relationship psychologist Esther Perel says:

"Parasocial relationships are a substitute for real relationships like porn is a substitute for sex."

That is why it is urgently necessary to steer our flight into the digital, especially in times of COV-19-related social isolation, in a positive way. Mark Zuckerberg hit that topic with the Metaverse about a month ago. Three considerations at this point:

We believe the Metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet. Mark Zuckerberg

Consideration 1: Living without ethics is like trying to see color in darkness

Human action can be seen both practically and theoretically - does this mean that human action is fundamentally ethical? This question of consciously ethical action was first addressed prominently by Rousseau and Hume in a famous philosophical dispute in 1766; Rousseau was of the opinion that there is a positive ethical corset underlying humans. In the tradition of the Roman principle "homo homini lupus", Hume saw man as aggressive, unwilling to cooperate and as fundamentally willing to use violence. History largely shows that Hume is right: So far so bad.


Rousseau's idea of ​​freedom-loving and peaceful people, who corresponds more to today's image of a hippie, has not yet been clearly refuted and - this is where optimism comes into play again - is also considered a valid conception of culture (cf. Sturma 2001, 72ff.). This philosophically important basic consideration is indispensable for dealing with the development of a basic ethical understanding in the field of digital ethics, because it is in contrast to grown, "analog", ethically high-quality behavior (e.g. evolutionary basic aversion to group murder, incest, cannibalism, etc.) ..) in parasocial, digital relationship formation, “evolution” of socialization does not play a role. The process is just too quick for that. This makes the necessity of a conscious ethics formation process in the digital space obvious.


Consideration 2: Socialisation - anyone?

Socialization is the entire process during which an individual grows into society. In doing so, through passive and active interaction with other people, it acquires the socially relevant experience and behavior that is peculiar to it. (Illichmann 1998: 281)

This form of socialization, described by Illichmann, not only takes place in the primary first years of the child's life in the private sphere, but also especially in the state school system. With regard to funding programs or schools with broad digital entitlement, particular attention must be paid to ethically-based socialization.

Birkenhauer (cf. 2000, 14) therefore presented a digitally applicable six-point plan 20 years ago to consciously prepare pedagogues for ethical challenges in digital teaching:

  1. Insight into the importance of digital worlds (Practical example: Providing information about privacy settings on smartphones and in apps as an advantage)

  2. Liveliness and conformity (Appropriate teaching in unusual circumstances)

  3. Absolute authenticity and credibility including truthfulness (e.g. lessons on your own Facebook / Instagram lessons and on your own laptop / smartphone)

  4. Design of life scenes with substantial questions (Questions about the importance of social media for career opportunities)

  5. Awareness of the relativity of the ego in overall contexts (e.g .: raising awareness about cyberbullying)

  6. Taking up aesthetic awareness (Questions about mediated ideals of beauty)

After two years of Zoom schooling: Shouldn't we have taken this 20 (!) Year old plan into account?

Anyways- Back to topic:

This pedagogical approach is necessary for dealing with ethical questions, especially on the topic of digital ethics, in order to create the necessary "awareness", that is, to create both positive and negative aspects of the explicit and implicit social impacts in the digital world to be able to use them competently in interpersonal interaction.


Consideration 3: Human-centered and human-focused. It's not that hard.

Digitalization and the extensive redefinition of modern life in the 21st century are opening up perspectives in a wide variety of professional fields - today, transcontinental conversations can be conducted with almost imperceptible delays. In addition, our changed digital social worlds have also changed the partner search (e.g. Tinder), in retail (e.g. Zomato), or in general consumer behavior (e.g. Amazon).


According to Fend, the youth are the decisive and formative phase that defines these areas of social integration (cf. Fend 1994: 2), which is why an educationally valuable approach in the area of ​​digital resilience is all the more in demand. For Rath, et al., The question of the ethical challenge posed by medialized societies is not the focus, these are taken for granted. It is therefore high time for:

Human-centered and human-focused digital ethics in which at the end of every machine action there are human-ethical programs, logarithms and codes, which - if perhaps not recognizable at first glance - nevertheless give the machines their "logos", i.e. meaning, and thus predetermine which ethical consequences are artificial Intelligences, digital interactions and virtual worlds can result (cf. Rath, et al .: 3). The digital chains of AI intelligence have not yet been broken in this area and urgently need to be shaped by computer scientists (and ethical codes) in order to be filled with "life". Whether this is decided by the UN, the EU, the nation states or even by NGO players, does not matter for the effect. The important thing is that it exists. Quickly.


Digital ethics - Core of the Metaverse?

Digital ethics can be the basis for education, self-determination in the digital world, advanced training and socialization. Also in the new Metaverse. So it is time to raise awareness and get your opinions.

What do you think of the idea of ​​a digital ethic that can be codified specifically in companies and in the education system?

Looking forward to a fruitful discussion in chat,



Bernhard Franz, MA., MA., Is an independent communication trainer and moderator with a focus on digital cultural mediation and innovative training methodologies. If you want to know more about the author, just click on the button!

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