It would not be an understatement to claim that Internet has made globalization possible and rendered the physical boundaries between countries less important. Internet has advanced knowledge and information sharing like no other technology before. In addition, it has also made communication effective, cheap, and accessible to more people around the world. Internet has touched almost every aspect of our lives and one of them is culture.
Internet has increased interaction among cultures around the world. We are often fascinated by things we don’t know as well as desire to experience new things. This is why new cultures often attract us because they give us opportunity to look at the world from different perspectives. The attraction to new cultures may be the reason why we often find ourselves searching for international music, food recipes, and movies on the internet. Internet has played a huge role in creating appreciation for international cultures because it makes experiencing some aspects of international cultures so convenient.
Internet has also helped many people get rid of their bias. Prejudice and bias are often the outcome of our lack of ignorance about other cultures as well as our inability to put ourselves in others’ shoes. But internet has made it easier to communicate with people from other cultures and access international print and electronic publications. As we share ideas with those from other cultures, we realize that the difference in thinking is often due to different cultural values and exposure to different news. In most countries, local media often portrays nationalist perspectives. As a result, we are only exposed to one side of the mirror and opinions formed by looking at only one side of the issue may turn out to be erroneous. People in America may only hear about American perspectives on global affairs and those in the Middle East may only hear about Arab perspectives on global affairs. As a result, their opinions will be formed on the basis of entirely different news stories and media propaganda. But by direct discussions with those from other cultures, we may identify the sources of different opinions as well as self-serving bias that form those opinions. This will allow us to have more objective understanding of global affairs.
Another positive impact of internet on cultures has been that more and more people around the world have taken interest in learning a new language and they include primarily monolingual people in developed countries such as the U.S. Some of this interest has also been due to the realization that globalization will result in an increased level of international trade activities and language skills could turn out to be an asset.
But not all effects have been positive. Countries that are developed or rising economic powers get more exposure and this may hurt the cultures of countries with low economic or political power. Thus, few cultures such as Indian, Chinese, American, and Brazilian etc. may have been getting greater exposure at the expense of other cultures such as African indigenous cultures. Thus, economic status of any country seems to have a direct impact on the exposure its culture gets in the print and electronic media.
It is also possible that internet may have increased cultural gaps. This is because fundamentalist groups have found internet to be quite effective for propaganda as well as promoting their ideals. Thus, they further promote extremism as well as hate for cultures or societies different from them. Even Al-Qaeda extensively uses internet to promote its anti-western ideology.