A world without the restriction of borders, the difference in governance, and information barriers sound a dream come true to those, who envisioned the concept of a global village. Nevertheless, a minority of populations in different parts of the world oppose the effects these changes bring with them. Communication is instant since anyone can communicate using video conference, send a message in a second, or receive a multimedia message from miles away. Technological advancements and media have widened access to information, enabled quick dissemination of information, and changed the world into a global village, but on the other hand, the dilution of cultures has taken place to the extent of extinction. A healthy situation where children grew up knowing their social background has been overtaken by lifestyles they grow up seeing in global media; as a result, the influence of global media on local cultures seems inevitable. This paper looks into roles the global media plays in the dilution of culture, and to what extent it poses a threat to cultural diversity.
Lechner defines cultural diversity as a range of differences in cultures of communities/societies found in different regions of the world. Giddens opposes mentality that, whenever globalization is mentioned, the first impression that comes to mind is westernization. Globalization incorporates a variety of components, for example, different cultures merging into one culture with every culture respecting one another; peaceful coexistence of different individuals new to one another or acquainted and forbearance of one another despite challenges they face. These conditions are attained when a number of considerations are in play, including population shifts, media, economic trends, and technological advancements. Out of these, Lechner and Boli consider the media as most effective in exerting influence and reach with its ever-growing impact on the current generation.
Technological changes have seen the launch of powerful satellites that allow American radio and television channels broadcast live in rural areas of Africa. A number of young generations have adopted the lifestyle these media channels spread. An example of social influence portrayed by the global media is the glorification of a male athlete as the figure of masculinity. The social beliefs of societies are slowly replaced by new exotic cultures that other societies practice. The United States, being the leader in the number of channel waves received in the whole world, has influenced a number of young people. Pop songs have replaced traditional songs. Furthermore, a number of the current generation do not even know their native languages. They prefer being associated with western culture, even if they never understand its origin. The internet has brought a different approach to information regarding business, jobs, and lifestyle since anywhere in the world, an individual can access information about his or her choice with no limits. Social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google have interlinked an immeasurable number of people from different parts of the world irrespective of geographic boundaries. News of real events in the world is available as soon as they occur, courtesy of the global reach of media houses such as Al Jazeera and Cable News Network (CNN). Students in a class can listen to a lecture that a lecturer recorded a while back, without his/her presence in class. Revolutions can be influenced by information that is passed through the internet. Global news industries like CNN and BBC report news that happens around the clock every day. Wrong information passed might inflict hatred among antagonistic communities leading to violence. Nonetheless, international news is a source of public outrage and concern for fellow people in other countries. Cases of war or activities against human rights have led to intense public pressure on the governance system to respond to such activities. A negative response may result in violence. It is evident that the influence of global media is immeasurable and defies the boundaries of time and space.
Films and movie theatres went a notch higher in the production and selling of their products compared to when the film industry had been invented. Films are created with a particular theme portrayed to viewers. The misconception of these ideas has led to demoralization in the society with young people linking the ideas they get from the films to the social expectations that the society requires of them. Children create a perception of fantasy as realities in their minds to overshadow the norms that the culture holds. Television sets, mobile phones, video games, and computers are available to children at a tender age. They grow up learning and emulating things that they learn from such technologies; consequently, societies have adapted ‘a web of global interdependence’ with people emulating the populist or dominant culture presented by the media. Children grow with the mentality of this fantasy world that every dream will come true. As a result, their morals change as they relate to regulations and lessened freedom they get in following their cultural practices. Some types of music genres have been over time the source of passing wrong information to the youth. Violence, theft, arson, drugs, and disrespect are some of the personality traits that music genres have been thought to be passing to the youth. Steger comments that television, radio, movies, magazines and the internet are widely blamed for a host of social ills such as weakening of spiritual values, undermining ancient traditions, inciting fraud, encouraging material consumerism, destroying family life, and provoking murder among peaceable people among others.
The media is a new form of advertisement and customer targeting. The adoption of e-commerce in the business sector has led to an increased number of advertisement on the internet and TV channels inclusive of radio advertisements. The media`s first priority has always been fashion and dress codes. Westernization presents a competitive market for fashion designers. The world adopts these fashion changes at a greater rate as compared to the rate at which a number of products from different parts of Germany make their way to the remote locations of Africa. The impact of films and TV series on many people has been termed ‘Americanisation’. Giddens further asserts that instead of people wanting to immigrate to America, America has immigrated to the most remote areas of the world. This is because of the ascendancy American culture has over other cultures, consequently, a large number of American products are brought into markets with ease. Film production, movies, and reality shows lead cultures away from traditional methods that different cultures used to practice. These two centuries have seen drifting of once diversified cultures. Kelner and Pierce state that, at the expense of other societies, popular societies are becoming even popular. This follows the adoption of a given trend of culture by a multitude of other cultures with the positive and negative features that it presents.
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The extent of the Threat
The global media plays a major role in the erosion of cultures. The dominant cultures have a great influence on the dilution of practices and customs present in society. Mass communication has seen an expansion of networks of interdependence, within and beyond national borders spearheading quick transfer of ideas, goods, services, ecological beliefs, and movement of people across these borders. Societies in remote places can now receive an overflow of information using a wide range of channels located far away. Images purporting good and bad morals, ideologies, and news of far off countries can be easily accessible, but results of these channels of communication are far much spread. The world is termed as a ‘global village’; in other terms, a single village interconnected by an assortment of networks. The term ‘globalization’ is defined as a link of dissimilar cultures and different individuals with a multiplicity of ideas brought together as one, consequently, it is a single culture where all these different cultures co-exist together. The diversity of different cultures is eroded in the process. Presence of admixtures such as African Americans, American Indians and British Americans among others still explains the interrelation and union of these different communities to form one large community co-existing together as one; it is commonly associated with intermarriages. Inter-racial marriages common in the present world have corrupted the identity of both the young and the old generation. Kelner and Pierce assert that cultural distinctiveness is not only a build-up of dreams, traditions, languages, ways of eating, and dressing passed on from one generation to another but also what a culture decides to do with these innate practices which are prone to change within a set period of time. This mixing of different cultures leads to adoption or invention of a different inter-culture altogether where different traditions within this circle merge. With time, these different linguistic cultures mingle, and the diversity will be lost; consequently, histories, geographies, genealogies, myths, and social practices become extinct.
A number of the present young generation cannot relate them to any cultural background. The current generation takes an interest in films that are produced outside their cultures, let alone their countries. From these very unfamiliar cultures, new characteristics are assimilated into their lives, which they emulate from the movies they watch. Accordingly, they forget their cultures and start living new lifestyles. The moral statue of societies is another trait that the global media has corrupted. Fashion being in the lead has brought the changes in dressing codes for both women and men. Superstars are paving the way for the evolution of dress codes in the young generation; thus, depending on the extent to which they adore an artist, the dressing style is replicated. This has been considered a driving factor to disrespect among youth towards their parents or guardians with extreme cases ending up in violence. A common example is rock music that not only symbolizes self-expression, spontaneity, sexuality but also highly regards rebelliousness. Dishonesty has brought about drug use, alcoholism, and increased juvenile crime as the young generation tends to think these are the only ways in which they can express their freedom. All these are character traits that are spread through music the global media has played a pivotal role in ensuring their proliferation. An increased rate of drug abuse has led to the death of a number of young people and parents who became addicts. Homosexuality has been growing fast in this modern society, with a large percentage of cases reported in areas where same-sex relationships were considered taboo in the past. All this is due to the knowledge the media is spreading. Some things presented by the media create curiosity among the youth. Pornographic magazines and videos have become available to the public with a few restrictions put by the media corporations. Exposure of children to such materials at a young age has contributed to the increased rate of sexually transmitted diseases and related diseases.
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Cultural diversity is a shield a community upholds to protect dignity. However, homogeneity of different cultures has caused immorality and erosion of different cultures that once existed among the human race. Increased ethnic wars are a result of differences existing between two communities; greed, injustice, and theft all spring from poor relations between two cultures. In their merging, community A, for instance, has its cultures that people uphold, and community B, on the other hand, has its own culture to uphold. The difference that both these communities uphold is enough to stage antagonism between them resulting in violence if they cannot relate peacefully. Globalization is a sporadic process where individuals watch and hear about events which happen in other parts of the world and how people react to those events. Within a short period of time, in case of the same situation, they will adopt the same way of problem-solving. Kelner and Pierce explain the effects of globalization as a situation of confusion where people experience loss of their traditional preferences to the unique habits they emulate from different cultures.
Traditional methods like those that gave cooking and natural diet high priority have been replaced with genetically modified foods. Minerals and vitamins that natural food provided to the body have been destroyed by major business entities out to make money. The media spreading information about these inventions all over the world has played a part in the development of these practices. The future of minority societies like those in Africa is on the verge of being swallowed by the vast cultures that rule the world. The media portrays all contents and even the most disrespectful materials get their ways to viewers in different regions. These pose a threat to the existence of minor cultures that are still dependent on the economic well being of already developed countries like the United States. Giddens proposes a redefinition of policies regarding the global media that still pose a threat to the existence of different cultures. The media has had a great influence that reversion of its effects on the lives of people in the whole world is unimaginable. Therefore, a threat of extinction of diverse cultures and the continued growth of a multi-culture is possible in the near future.
Societies are moving with a great wave of changes that are passed through the media at such a rate that many fail to realize that they have drifted too far. Histories, geographies, genealogies, myths, and social practices of different society become extinct. Cultural fusion has led to instant communication, video conferencing, and quick dissemination of information; nonetheless, it has led to a loss of identities and adoption of immoral characters in a society that was nonexistent. The media has played a significant role in the successful spread of information, but it also has led to the erosion of cultures. Diverse communities have been linked to one another through the internet, social services, television, radio, and mobile phones. Each of these different cultures is on the brink of extinction. Thus, dissimilar societies have to devise ways to safeguard their traditions even facing a significant challenge that the media and other propellers of cultural diversity present.