In short, globalisation – the spread of economic, social and cultural ideas across the world, and our seamless global connectedness – has produced a world of ‘instantaneity, interconnectedness and interdependence’ (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler, 2001). The old saying, ‘the world is at your fingertips’, has become a modern reality as smartphones, Skype, Facebook and other interactive technology have created an interpersonal community that crosses geographic, racial, religious and cultural barriers.
Amid free sharing and entry into the public domain, citizens of the world have transcended the ‘nation-state’ to become part of a larger online community. With globalisation eradicating boundaries of time, space and knowledge, we can now draw on our intelligence and interconnectedness in a global response to changing realities, such as natural disasters and climate change.
However, while new media and communication have the ability to educate, empower and democratise, they have also formulated a world in which some cultures have been ‘commodified, commercialized, decontextualized and stripped of tradition and cultural meaning’ (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler, 2010). With the aid of globalisation and it’s technological advancements, we now have the ability to increase our awareness of foreign cultures, however we must recognise that in exercising Western choice and values, we may deny others cultural desires and limit their individual choice.
This ‘Westernisation’, or ‘Americanisation’, could unfortunately result in a new form of dependency on Western values and traditions, creating a world that is nomadic, alienated and filled with no real connections. As Appadurai claims, “The world we live in now seems rhizomic even schizophrenic, calling for theories of rootlessness, alienation and psychological distance between individuals and groups on the one hand and fantasies (or nightmares) of electronic propinquity on the other”. I’ll be the first to confess that I love my iPhone, my iMac, my TV and my unrestricted and unlimited access to the World Wide Web. However, as we transition into this modern, fast-paced, commercially driven world, global discourses concerned with late capitalist culture, such as dislocation and alienation of the individual, reveal the need to maintain greater connections within our evolving society.
In this modern age, links to television, telecommunications, the Internet, international trade and air travel, have all combined to create what Marshall McLuhan called the ‘global village’. However, we must tackle this new phenomenon head-on to protect our diversity and individuality. Technological advances and widespread communication could be the greatest achievement mankind has made; conversely it could also be our downfall. I have travelled from the beaches of Bali, to the mountains in Switzerland, to the shops in London and the monuments in Paris and I have no doubt that it is the world’s variety and array of cultures that make it so incredible. And so I, like the wise Dr Seuss, pose a question –
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
O’Shaughnessy,M, Standler, J, 1999, ‘Globalisation’, Michael O’Shaughnessy (eds.), Media and Society, OUP, Australia & New Zealand, 2012, pp.458-470