The emergence of Global Culture

GlobeI’m facilitating some workshops this week around Community Management in Social Learning spaces. One of the Russian delegates mentioned that in her culture it’s ok for the moderator to tell people what to do and they will simply obey, whilst an Italian delegate said we have to be careful to thank people for inputs and apologise for every delay. British delegates, i know, may bring a touch of cynicism to events. But do these stereotypes stand true in the Social Age?

My feeling is that they will become less relevant. Why? Because we are moving away from culture being defined by geographical boundaries and historical social legacies towards it being a function of the communities that we are engaged in. A Twitter culture of sharing, a YouTube culture of broadcast, a Facebook culture of commentary and ‘likes‘.

These behaviours are learnt, as are the others that fulfil any stereotype.

As our everyday lives involve engagement in global social spaces, for learning, for support, for communicating, so our cultural boundaries will shift.

I still consider my self to be British, but my community is global and, whether i like it or not, my interactions with them change me. Call it a broadening of perspective, but whatever it is, if we travel, be it mentally or physically, it changes us.

This is nothing new.

Before the age of metalled roads and railways, we had rural communities with their own dialects, traditions, building styles and even fashions. Today, in developed countries, much of this is gone. Dialects rarely survive immersion in wider, popular cultures, Holywood stripped away the barriers of the oceans. Goods trains imported double glazing the internet made concepts of rural and urban largely a lifestyle choice, less a barrier to work.

The ways we communicate impact on culture: we are starting to see this play out. The role of social media in the collapse of oppressive regimes is a function of the ability of messages to amplify, to cut through the silence and share good ideas. Inevitably this connectivity will result in the loss of some differentiation. When everybody can see the new Robocop film and talk about it on Twitter (even if they are just watching a shaky pirate copy) we are building shared cultural reference points. And we model our attitudes and behaviours upon these.

So maybe people will be less inclined to be told what to do, maybe we will see more of a global social culture? In my more optimistic moments i see the potential for good: seeing that Russian attempts to repress LGBT freedoms come under a global spotlight encourages me that social media can be a force for good, that we will see global values emerge, values of tolerance and liberty.

Whether or not we can see the end of the road yet, my feeling is that these nationalistic stereotypes will become less meaningful as we become ever more connected, every more citizens of the Social Age.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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10 Responses to The emergence of Global Culture

  1. Pingback: The emergence of Global Culture @julianstodd | ...

  2. benoitdavid says:

    Yes indeed… Niceties, civilities, etiquette are all being influenced and changed by the globalization of everyday interactions between boundary-less individuals.

  3. Possibly….maybe what will emerge is a culture of connected and not connected. Don’t forget that in many countries access to social media and the Internet is still incredibly low (although growing). Is it also a culture of the wealthier? – so those in extreme poverty are also excluded as they dont have access to mobile technology or the internet.

    I would argue that those nationalistic identities still continue to exist within which a global interaction occurs. Interestingly your blog highlights this – online, you are saying that national identity become less relevant for you and yet in the classroom in your workshop, face to face with people actually you have responded and noticed your delegates (national) identity….

    I think there is more here about social identity and how people construct their networks and people around them. Perhaps being online, this creates a more ‘intellectual’ identity – I wonder have you ever met in person someone who, online you connected with, but face to face just could get on with? (I know I have via internet dating!!! But may be romance is slightly different 🙂 ) Would be interested to hear about that.

    • julianstodd says:

      Hey Rebecca,

      i strongly agree with your first point [], we have a social/moral responsibility to ensure we don’t leave anyone behind.

      I see these changes occurring over time: i guess that over the next twenty or hundred years the question of connectivity will largely disappear. Yes, it may be a culture of the wealthy, but we see some moves already to equalise this (i’m in Bulgaria on a roaming data tariff so can’t research this right now..) but i know there are agreements in place with certain mobile providers in Africa, for example, to provide free bandwidth to users using certain sites (i THINK it was for Wikipedia).

      Yes, the question of identity is evolving: i feel it strongly in the room, yet today i was with a group from Guatemala, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, France, Italy, Russia and the UK. We shared a lot more in common than we would have done even twenty years ago.

      I like your idea of ‘intellectual identity’, i may expand on that if i may in a subsequent post?

      Your point around connection is also very important: i’ve started a piece of research around this, looking to see if we can quantify whether there are differences in relationships which form online and transition to the physical, or start in person and transition to online. I suspect there are and that it would impact how organisations bring people together and when.

      Lots of research around romance and the quantifiable differences in digital relationships i know – it has slipped down my list of projects, but you prompt me to revisit it!

      This was a first draft of thoughts written at the end of a long day (you know i think of the blog as my first reflective space). I will try to refine this as part of the book i will be working on in March around culture.

      Thanks for prompting various thoughts and your contributions here, best wishes, Julian

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