The social media and its various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram has become a part of people’s everyday life. In fact, a good percentage of people in the world today rarely spend a whole day without logging in to any one of the identified social media sites. In line with Highmore, the culture of a society can be considered as people’s normal way of life, which is characterized by factors such as their daily activities, general customs, as well as beliefs (12). For that reason, the social media and the use of the various social networking sites can be perceptibly considered as a part of the culture of many people around the world today. Being one of the most popular networking sites, Facebook forms the focal point of the discussion in this paper. As a matter of fact, Facebook is currently used in nearly all parts of the world (Koteyko and Hunt 60). In view of this, it is worth arguing that the utilization of Facebook presently represents or has become a part of nearly all cultural communities around the world. Cultural practices of virtually every community across the globe are influenced by Facebook and, in turn, Facebook nowadays determines how some people practice their culture on a daily basis. Apparently, Facebook reflects the values of nearly all communities in the world.
As an overview of what is to follow, the paper firstly introduces the concept of social networking by narrowing down to the use of Facebook. Next, the influence of cultural practices on the use of Facebook is overviewed with the overall goal of determining how people’s culture and value determine the information that they share online. The discussion is then followed by the role that Facebook plays in the modeling of people’s culture and the possibility that Facebook can entirely erode a community’s culture. The final section concentrates on how Facebook reinforces the mainstream culture and the extent to which the social media site challenges the status quo in many communities around the world. In light of the discussion, the paper will seek to illustrate that the utilization of Facebook significantly influences the online and offline cultural practices of nearly all communities around the world. In turn, the prevailing cultural practices considerably determine the level to which people are willing to use the social networking sits such as Facebook.
The Social Media: Facebook
Just as has been stated, the everyday life of many people currently revolves around the use of the various social networking sites such as Facebook. Like other social media platforms, Facebook allows people to create free online profiles and interact with their friends and families online. At the same time, the platform allows people to meet new friends and make meaningful connections on the online spectrum of life. What is more, the social networking site allows businesses to display their products online to their customers who, as well, have the ability to reviews such products based on their experiences (Yu 413). It is worth noting that the large number of people who currently use Facebook has resulted in a situation whereby culture and communal values are readily shared with people from different parts of the world. In view of this, Facebook is one of the new social media sites that support studying of the culture and everyday life of people from different communities around the world.
Cultural Practices and the Use of Facebook
The utilization of the social networking site closely relates to the culture and cultural values of people in a given community. As one of the domains of the everyday culture, Facebook was designed not to target a particular audience, but to be used by all communities around the world. As a matter of fact, the possibility for users to change the language settings for the site and use it even in their local language justifies the assertion that the site was designed to support all communities around the world. However, it is vital stating that cultural values of a community determine the way people affiliated with the community use the social networking site and the information they can share (Lonnqvist and Deters 114). People from one part of the world may have less restrictive cultures and have the ability to share whatever they feel like sharing online while other populations have limitations in the use of Facebook.
Information Sharing. One of the main ways in which culture influences the use of Facebook is with regards to information sharing. In some countries, the existing communal culture allows for self-censorship in terms of the information that one may share online. For instance, most Western cultures have fewer restrictions on how a person would use the social networking site. In fact, a Facebook user from the United States would have the freedom to self-censor what he or she posts online and use personal convictions to limit the information posted online (Peters, Winschiers-Theophilus, and Mennecke 263). On the other hand, some communities have cultural values that restrict the kind of information that can be shared online, as some behaviors may be considered unfit and inconsistent with the existing traditional customs. For example, the use of Facebook in Namibia is linked to the cultural and family structures (Peters et al. 263). The implication is that the communal culture in Namibia determines the information that users can share online. Based on the given circumstances, culture apparently has a considerable influence on the use of Facebook in many communities.
Taboos Related to Conversations. Online chats and conversations involving people from various cultural backgrounds can as well be used in the evaluation of how people’s culture and everyday way of life determine their use of Facebook. In some communities, some conversations are generally seen as a taboo when spoken in the public, as they amount to dereliction and deviations from the accepted socio-cultural behaviors. As an illustration, Palestinian youths living in Israel are less likely to engage in online conversations on topics that are perceived as taboos in the off-line dialog scenario (Abbas and Mesch 645). Such topics may include nude pictures and sexually explicit content. On the other hand, some of these contents are likely to be discussed in some western countries. Evidently, culture has significant influence on the use of Facebook.
Facebook’s Effects on Cultural Practices
Despite the fact that the use of Facebook is determined by the existing cultural values of a community, the emergence of Facebook has equally led to substantially benefits to many communities and their communal values.
A Platform for Nurturing Appropriate Cultural Practices. To start with, Facebook supports the interconnectedness between among families and community members, which is essential for a healthy community relationship. Even though some values of the community may restrict the type of information to be shared online, Facebook allows for the sharing of issues that may be affecting a community with other members of the community (Highmore 24). As a matter of fact, some communities may use the social media platform to make announcements on major cultural events or even teach the young generations on the importance of their cultural values and customs. In this way, families and the community at large have the ability to refine their ways of living and practice only those values that the cultural values and customs deem fit.
Intercultural Tolerance and Learning. One of the key benefits of Facebook with regards for cultural practices is the provision of a platform where the diverse cultures of people around the world can be appreciated. According to Dhir and Tsai, people make a considerable number of posts concerning their online communal cultures and everyday life online (12). Such posts may serve as educational materials for people from one community who may be interested in learning the cultures and customs of people from another communal setting. At the same time, people may have friends from all over the world, who have diverse cultural practices. A close association with such friends would provide an opportunity for learning about their cultures and the practices that they consider as appropriate or taboo (Dhir and Tsai 14). The association with people from various cultural backgrounds allows for cultural tolerance. Apparently, Facebook supports intercultural learning and tolerance to the cultures of a community that may be different from one user’s cultural values and customs.
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