Free Growth In Internet Use, Worldwide Cultures, And Westernisation Essay Sample
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The growth in internet use has influenced cultures around the world. The Internet has become an instrument for westernisation, and consequently the homogenisation of culture. The succeeding discussion explores this idea from two different perspectives – Westernisation and the homogenisation of culture within the context of language and youth culture. Through the growing use of the Internet, Westernisation and homogenisation materialise in the way that people around the world learn and speak English and use it within the Western context. Furthermore, the growing use of the Internet leads to the homogenisation of youth culture influenced by the West.
Internet Use, Culture, Westernisation and Language
Internet use has influenced the development of language around the world, particularly the widespread use of English, and therefore, the Westernisation and homogenisation of culture. Majority of people in the Internet communicate using the English language (Williams, 2009). It appears to be the only language that people may use to communicate with other people in different parts of the world. Consequently, the widespread use of the English language led to the Westernisation of homogenisation of culture due to people’s exposure to views and perspectives in their constant use of the English language.
Language results from culture, which means that aspects of language reflect the culture from which it originates. Hence, if people use American English in communicating with one another, they also participated in the exchange of American culture (Samovar, Porter, McDaniel, and Roy, 2012). According to professionals and experts in linguistics, one of the functions of language is the transmission of culture particularly because culture shapes language. Furthermore, experts in language argue that the use of a common language leads to social cohesion. Essentially, the use of a common language allows people to engage with and understand one another. Engagement and understanding then leads to social cohesion and the transmission of culture. Consequently, people around the world that use the English language would be able to know more about Western culture by using American or British English. Hence language, and its widespread use in the Internet, is a means through which Western ideas and values are exported or transmitted for other people’s consumption around the globe (Germen, 2009).
The prevalence of ‘memes’ in the Internet illustrate how language homogenises culture. Memes are representations of popular culture, which is also part of the Western culture. Majority of those in popular culture from films to television, literature, and other online sensations are part of Western culture. People’s exposure to Western-themed memes also expose them to Western culture. Globalisation of popular culture such as Western television shows and films that may easily be accessed online expose people to Western culture. Consequently, their involvement with Western popular culture also change their language through their exposure to Western slang and other terms used in memes. People around the world now understand the meaning behind words or slang that depict Western culture such as “selfie”, “twerk” or “twerking”, “bitcoin”, “tl:dr”, or “YOLO”, among others (Shifman, 2013). Westernisation within this context illustrates how people around the world adapt Western culture as a result of the homogenisation of culture through the shared used of a common language – American or British English.
Internet Use, Culture, Westernisation and Youth Culture
The Internet plays an important role in the younger generation’s lives. Compared to older generations, young people grew up using technology and the Internet. For this reason, they are more dependent on the Internet and are fully aware of how they could use it to gather or share information with other users in cyberspace. Billions of young people around the world use the Internet. Based on data gathered by the Pew Internet Research Centre in January 2014, majority of individual who use the Internet, specifically social networking sits are between the ages of 18 to 29. The higher people’s age, the less they use the internet. More women use the Internet compared to men. Majority of high school students or graduates also use the Internet (Pew Internet Research Centre, 2014). The results of the survey show that majority of people who use the Internet online are young people. The data proves the growing Internet use among those in the younger generations.
Young people’s exposure to and growing Internet use consequently influence or affect their values, perspectives, and overall youth culture. Since Western culture is predominant in the media, particularly digital media, the youth all over the world is exposed to Western culture. Adaptive behaviours cause them to imitate Western culture, thereby, homogenising the culture of youth around the world. Dasgupta (2012) argued that people’s use of the Internet, particularly social media, facilitates westernisation of youth culture. Young people around the world utilise social networking to communicate with others and to gather and share data. Since most information found in the Internet represent Western culture, the young people in different countries learn and adapt.
Youth culture, in relation to growing Internet use, is characterised by open and direct communication online. Dasgupta (2012) argued that young people are more open about their thoughts, feelings and emotions online. Furthermore, young people nowadays primarily communicate with other people through the Internet and social networking. Since it is more convenient for them to communicate with people online, young people also more likely learn to multitask. As they communicate with other people through social networking sites, they also multitask by doing their homework, reading various articles, and watching different forms of media among others. Selg (2010) conducted a study to determine the impact of the Internet and online activities among young Swedish students. Selg (2010) discovered that ‘digital natives’ or those that grew up with and constantly use or are dependent on the Internet are multitaskers. The outcomes of Selg’s (2010) research study illustrates multitasking as part of youth culture. Young people have become highly active and dependent on the Internet and they use this as a means to do multiple tasks at the same time.
Since young people, particularly ‘digital natives’ (Selg, 2010) have become accustomed to using the Internet to perform various tasks, this population is often impatient and demand instant results or outcomes. Young people can do multiple tasks through the Internet at the same time. Consequently, they receive instant results whether activities involve making reservations in restaurants, purchasing items online, or waiting for search results. Young people then expect the same in other situations, which is why they are often characterised as impatient people (Selg, 2010). For this reason, the youth culture is also characterised by self-entitlement. Due to this population’s demands when it comes to immediate gratification, young people demand instant gratification in services as well as other aspects.
Demand for instant gratification as a common trait or part of the youth population’s culture is prevalent in the way that young people consume media. Through the years, digital media companies have found ways to serve their consumers better. Part of this is providing instant digital content in the form of ‘on-demand’ media that is easily accessible online. Young people can easily access and consume digital content such as movies and television shows through the Internet. Young people also download music online as soon as this content is available. People no longer wait in line in physical stores because they can access any content online in real time (Logan, 2010).
The advent of Web 2.0 in the Internet also illustrates another important aspect of youth culture, the creation and sharing of content. Essentially, Web 2.0 is a platform in the Internet that allows online users to create, share, and revise information online. Wikipedia is an example of a Web 2.0 technology where people share information to build the encyclopedia-type website. In terms of its contribution to youth culture, the Web 2.0 platform empowers people to create information. Consequently, the youth are no longer dependent on one-dimensional information such as newspapers where they simple read and digest information. Young people nowadays are fully engaged in the production of content whether it is in the form of commenting on articles online or contributing content about various topics by writing their own articles (Logan, 2010).
The previous discussion illustrates the homogenisation of culture, in terms of the similarities of actions and behaviours shared by young people around the world. When it comes to Westernisation, on the other hand, the spread of Western culture among young people worldwide illustrates this phenomenon. The Internet has become a tool in the dispersion of Western culture across cultures, thereby, influencing the views and behaviours of young people around the world. ‘Social freedom’ is perhaps one major characteristic of youth culture that proliferated due to young people’s constant use of the Internet. As formerly noted, the Internet brought about a means for them to express themselves and to influence or shape the transmission of information. As a result, youth culture is akin to social freedom due to young people’s expectations of their freedom and right to express their views and opinions using the Internet.
Perhaps an illustration of prevalent youth culture around the world is the changing views and opinions of young people in conservative countries, particularly in the Middle East. Due to religious restrictions, women and young people in Iran used to restrain themselves when it comes to expressing their opinion about their government. The Internet, however, influenced young people to communicate their thoughts and opinions. Youth culture became a culture of self-expression and social freedom due to young people’s realisation of their entitlements to free expression (Khosravi, 2011).
The foregoing discussion illustrates the impact of growing Internet use on the transmission of language and the prevalence of youth culture resulting from Westernisation and the homogenisation of culture. The Internet is a means to transmit culture through language, which is shaped by the latter. Consequently, the Internet and the habits or behaviours it formed among young people led to the formation of a youth culture that is characterised by social freedom and self-expression. Throughout these transformations, people around the world are constantly exposed to Western culture and further globalisation leads to the homogenisation of culture worldwide.
Dasgupta, S., 2012, Technical, social, and legal issues in virtual communities: Emerging environments. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Germen, M., 2009, “Content creation and propagation: Tools for subjective hegemony”. In C. Crouch’s Subjectivity, Creativity, and the Institution. Universal Publishers.
Khosravi, S., 2011, Young and defiant in Tehran. University of the Pennsylvania Press.
Logan, R. K., 2010, Understanding new media: Extending Marshall McLuhan. New York, NY: Peter Lang.
Pew Internet Research Centre, 2014, Social networking fact sheet. Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/
[Accessed: 2 Apr 2015].
Samovar, L., Porter, R., McDaniel, E. & Roy, C., 2012, Communication between cultures. Florence, KY: Cengage Learning.
Shifman, L. (2013). Memes in digital culture. MIT Press.
Williams, P., 2009, “Beyond Control: Will blended learning subvert national curricula?” In E. M. W. Ng’s Comparative Blended Learning Practices and Environments. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
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