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On the Media as a Globally Connective Force

Media as a Globally Connective Force

Historically speaking, cultures based in different territorial locations around the globe once thrived in relative states of isolation (when contrasted with the contemporary situation). Other than the largely infrequent bouts of trade and other commercial activities enacted between them for the purposes of mutual profit and gain, there didn’t occur much in the way of a spontaneous ‘mixing’ between individuals hailing from these different sociological settings.

This homogeneity of distinct cultural spaces continued as an existential historical phenomenon well into the modern age, where the claims of ethnic ‘purity’ and racial ‘superiority’ reached their zenith under the varied slogans of political nationalism. A linear understanding of history certainly sheds some light on this trend, but becomes quite skewed in its expository efficacy with the onset of the postmodern age of the 1960’s (and still in effect) – where not one, but multiple accounts and understandings of the historical process & canon continually compete with each other to attain some semblance of a rational superiority over their peers; in an ironic democratization of narratives that renders no one version more accurate than another.

According to the current scholarly consensus, all versions of a purported history of particular human affairs are the unwitting products of the power-politics of their time, and hence unreliable when employed narrowly to pose reconstructions of important events. The postmodern age coincided with the outbreak of the electronic media revolution that infected the post-War cultural scene, and with the globally infesting sentinels of globalization and multiculturalism trailing it in hot pursuit, made way for a diffusion of cultures like the world had never seen before.

Our current ‘crop’ of the global citizenry, therefore, may be more fittingly referred to as a demographic of cultural ‘hybrids’ – who unconsciously exist as a kaleidoscopic tapestry of several cultural mores messily conjoined within singular bodies that further give rise to a societal collective. The media, as we shall note, has had an important role in the development of this generation of multivariate (historical) human anomalies – and continues to exert its powerful culture-setting hold through newer communicative channels made available by the internet.

The Role of Popular Culture in Shaping Consciences

Of the modern media’s varied offerings, film productions and tv shows happen to arouse the greatest levels of consumer interest – begetting a euphoric state of psychological receptivity in which an entranced individual is susceptible to the subliminal messaging often inscribed insidiously within the said transferal mediums. American TV shows, by way of a recent example, continue to command some of the highest audience ratings ever accrued in motion-picture history, and wield a transformative influence on the global cultural sphere.

This can be seen in the massive popularity of American pop-culture (and its related issues) in locations as distant to the contiguous United States as India and China – where even the often-ambivalent political relationships between these polar sociological opposites does not compare in its effective scope to the viral acceptance of American celebrities, music, motion pictures, modes of thinking and conversation (along with the characteristic ‘Yankee’ dialect) by their general populace. America’s post-Cold War status as the sole global ‘superpower’ in a decidedly unipolar world certainly has had much to contribute towards enshrining its cultural hegemony over the rest of the planet – a monopoly on thought imposed not by the devices of force, but through the contagious ‘soft power’ of its media empire.

The Global News Room

All contemporary understandings of the press’s function (be it the local variant, or the international) are premised on the idea that the world is an intimately connected ‘village’; because of which even narrowly reported local news stories have to be supplemented with opinion-accounts of their global impact (even if it should be minute, or altogether non-existent). News reporting conducted with an ‘isolationist’ teleological approach is discouraged, and it is not uncommon to witness news anchors (in popular tv talk shows) trying to shift their studio conversations in the direction of international players alleged to be exerting their political influence on local occurrences.

Major televised events, such as high-casualty terrorist incidents, sports events and presidential elections (among other such media highlights), now reverberate around the world with unprecedented force – with people being informed about their latest developments in a matter of seconds. Such a widespread degree of connectivity (rendered even more intimate through the social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), though commendable on many fronts, has also had a considerable backlash from people who feel that their innate cultural (ethnic/nationalist) identities are at the risk of being consumed by their globalized, hybrid caricatures.

This belief has spawned entire populist movements in certain parts of the world, with the people rallying in these reactionary camps demanding an end to the processes of transcontinental, large-scale immigration, and on-going global cultural convergence.

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