The following work is devoted to the investigation of the question of the influence of social media on intercultural communication and the possibilities digital technologies and social networks give to people. Great possibilities of studying a foreign language and visiting different places of interest with the help of digital technologies are described.
Moreover, social networks help in aligning social contacts is pointed out. Its unique role for disabled people in helping them to communicate with society is underlined. However, in the end, some threatening facts are given, and necessity of some actions in order to prevent decline of society is stressed. In the end, conclusions are given.
Modern age can be easily called the era of digital technologies. It was impossible to imagine 50 years ago that computers will obtain such great importance. Having developed form bulky devices, occupying a whole room to a small laptop, they have concurred humanity. It is impossible to imagine the modern world without people using computers. The sphere of their application is universal. They are starting from deciding the most difficult mathematical problems and ending with being a simple toy for children to play.
Computers abilities are boundless. Moreover, they are constantly developing, suggesting new ways for people to use them. The sphere of digital technologies is one of the fastest developing branches of industry in the modern world. Its development is conditioned by high demand for its production. Nowadays, almost every family in the majority of states has a computer at home for children to play, adults to work, or just to entertain the whole family.
With the introducing of the Internet, people stopped sending letters as it became more convenient to use email. People stopped buying newspapers as more information can be found on the Internet. People stopped calling each other and going for a walk as there was no need for it. It is possible to say that the computer changed totally the way youth communicate now. The computer has greatly mediated communication, providing new abilities for discovering this world, getting new information, and self-education.
Social Media Influence
Social media in studying a foreign language
The ability to get more information is the first and the most obvious way the computer has influenced the development of intercultural communication. In these terms, a computer connected to the Internet can help a person to improve his skills. It is possible to supply this statement with a good example. Linguists consider that a linguistic environment for language acquisition is very important (Wang, 2009).
In other words, a student who studies a foreign language and lives in a foreign country will master it faster than a student who studies the same language at home. The environment and native speakers influence the development of language skills. There is no better way to learn a foreign language than to communicate with a native speaker. That is why a computer can be called a very useful tool for studying a foreign language. Social networks and Skype suggest a great number of possibilities.
First of all, it is possible to communicate with native speakers on different social networks like Twitter or Facebook by sending him messages. This way will help to improve spelling, grammar, and reading. However, the presence of a web camera and Skype can help to develop other aspects of language, such as speaking and listening. Skype gives a wonderful opportunity to talk to a person from any country in the world for free. That is why it can be used for mastering a foreign language.
It is possible to talk every day to a person from another country to improve your level of language. Moreover, a person will study the live and modern language with all peculiarities of culture, as he will receive it directly from a native speaker. It is even possible to study the culture of a country as it can be seen in the behavior of a native speaker (Lustig & Koester, 2010). The very important fact is that this study can be just fun for a pupil as he can do it while talking to his foreign friend and discussing some issues which are interesting for them.
Social media in discovering the world
Another visible and positive result of the influence of computers is connected with the previous one. As was already mentioned, it became much easier to get information with the development of the Internet. With this in mind, it is possible to say that traveling became easier and more available for people who cannot afford it. That is why there is a great number of different places of interest which have their own website for people who are interested in them. They could read the latest news and enjoy photos.
There is even a practice of so-called virtual tours. The main idea of this practice is to create a virtual image of a place of interest for visitors of a website to investigate it from different angles. For example, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History suggests “to take a virtual, self-guided, room-by-room walking tour of the whole museum” (Panoramic Virtual Tour, n.d., para.1) just using the Internet.
Usually, these virtual tours are full of 3D models which are made very scrupulous, for an attendant of this web site to be able to notice the smallest details of these objects. Of course, these tours cannot replace real ones as they do not convey feelings and impressions which a person feels while looking at some stunning things with his/her own eyes.
However, they are just a good thing for a person to get some information about places of interest, inspiring a person to see that place in his/her own eyes in the future. That is why we can call a computer a person’s guide to the world of interesting objects and places as it is possible to find some important extra information about an object while being on the virtual tour.
Social media in communication
One more benefit of using computers lies in the sphere of psychology. Very often, people have difficulties with communication. Especially, these difficulties occur to young people or adults who are not able to communicate correctly with representatives of other sex because of some strong emotions which seize them. As evidence of this statement can serve the fact that computers help people overcome difficulties with communication, establish new relations, and meet fear in initiating relationships with new people (Warschauer, 2001).
With this in mind, it is possible to admit that computers render vital services, giving people the opportunity to feel more comfortable and be able to communicate fearlessly. The main advantage of using social media in communication is that a person does not have to accomplish face to face communication. The main stress factor is excluded from the process of communication. Things are very simple when a person communicates with the help of massages on Twitter or Facebook.
He/she has time to think his/her answer through very carefully, to calm down, and to make the next step in communication. The presence of a possibility to make a pause makes conversation easier for these people. Things are different when people use Skype. A person faces real-life communication.
However, it is mediated, and there is a chance that it is also possible to avoid awkward situations and uncomfortable questions. With this in mind, it is possible to call Skype and Social Networks a very effective tool for persons who do not have any ability to communicate with people because of their shyness.
Social media and disabled people
There is one more benefit which seems to be very important is this list. The Internet can help people with reduced abilities. Sometimes, it is a real salvation for them. Unfortunately, very often, these people are totally isolated from society because of their physical imperfection. It makes them suffer, as they understand their otherness, and it is very painful for them. Moreover, very often, it is impossible for these people to carry on a conversation or to make replies because of some physical problems.
That is why computers, social media, and the Internet can be an ideal solution for them. It is possible to prove this statement with a good example. Dumb people have always been isolated from society because of their inability to talk. However, humans need to communicate is a basic need that helps to survive (Wood, 2012). That is why there are a lot of different courses whose main aim is to teach people to use finger language. However, it is not the best solution to a problem. First of all, it is rather difficult to master and use it.
The second problem is that it is difficult for a person who has skills in this language to find an interlocutor. Needless to say, that finger language is a very specific kind of communication, and centers of its studying are not so widespread. That is why it is difficult for dumb people to meet a person who is able to understand them. Things change totally on the Internet. There is no need in special language as everyone can read and type, and a dumb person can feel like a part of face to face communication.
With this in mind, it is possible to say that the development of the Internet and social media helps these people to become a part of society, communicating, sharing their feelings and emotions, and making new friends. The same goes for deaf people. They can even communicate with the help of Skype as there is the ability to send messages while using a web camera. Moreover, things change not only for people with problems of sense perception.
There is a great number of people who are not able to move or even stand from their beds. Under such conditions, the Internet can give them the ability to talk with their relatives or visit places they have always dreamt of seeing, but did not have such opportunity. Above mentioned, virtual tours can be very interesting for them. Moreover, the computer can help some of these people to receive treatment. There is a great number of people who have problems with diction. They need to visit a logopedist constantly.
In these terms, it is possible to suggest them to use Skype for sessions of distant treatment. A doctor can work with his patients and appoint real visits only in some extra cases. It can help to save money for a patient and spend them in another interesting way. Moreover, one more issue which was mentioned above is actually for this kind of person.
Very often, they have great problems with initiating relationships with people, even if their vocal apparatus is working appropriately. They feel shy and uncomfortable because of some other bodily harm. The fact that social networks make conversation easier for shy and unconfident people is also actual for them. They can start chatting with a person without being afraid of his/her reaction to their otherness. In these terms, the Internet is a vital thing for people who have some serious problems with their appearance.
It is possible to give good evidence of computers helping people to survive. Kris Rytter was suffering from cerebral palsy. It seemed that she had no chance to communicate with society. However, there was a special computer device that helped her to speak and feel involved in face to face communication (Murphy, n.d.).
Moreover, a famous scientist Stephen Hawking also uses computers and special digital devices to be able to communicate, to move, and to feel like a part of society. These two cases can serve as a bright example of how computers can help disabled people to obtain hope.
Drawbacks of computers development
However, computer technologies and social networks can bring not only benefits. There is a great number of threats for people, which can be found on the Internet. Researchers support this statement by evidence, outlining three main sets of online threats: sexual solicitation, online harassment, and problematic content (Schrock & Boyd, n.d.). That is why nowadays it is possible to observe a very high level of aggression among pupils and students.
The results of an increase of aggression can be horrible and lead to human losses. Moreover, as it was already mentioned, youth spend much time in the virtual world, making friends and communicating there. It is a very threatening sign. The young generation is the future of our society, and it should be socially active. It is impossible to be a functioning part of society without the experience gained while accomplishing some social duties. However, modern youth becomes more and more distant from the facts of life.
Young people prefer virtual communication. It is pernicious for the future of our planet because of several reasons. First of all, the computer has a negative influence on the health of people, destroying their sight and bearing. However, strange though it might sound, it is not the worst result of the developing computers and social media. The worst is that the young generation is depriving itself of alive relationships and face to face communication.
They do not have any experience of communicating with people in real life, and they have no concrete ways of conducting their lives (“Six kinds of applied conversational analysis,” 2011). It is a very dangerous sign. Nothing can replace and become a substitute for a real conversation. Communication mediated by computers can destroy the basis of our society.
Moreover, there are cases when teenagers do not want to live their virtual world, preferring to stay there forever, as it is clear and attractive for them. Using social media, people become deprived of the wisest and important teacher – real life. That is why sometimes people should forget about the Internet and just enjoy face to face communication.
In conclusion, it should be said that a deep analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of social media and the development of the Internet showed us some interesting and threatening facts at the same time. First of all, it is possible to conclude that the advantages of communication mediated by computers cannot be denied. People got a great number of different possibilities to discover this world. It is very easy now to study a foreign language or to go to a museum, taking some virtual tour.
Moreover, social media and the Internet can be a real salvation for disabled people, giving them the opportunity to feel a part of our society and communicate with people. However, we should mind some obvious dangers which fast development of the Internet creates. There are three sets of online threats that can do a lot of harm for young people and society on the whole, stimulating an increase of aggression. However, there is also another threat.
It is connected with the young generations unwillingness to face the real-world and have face to face conversations. With this in mind, it should be recommended to call attention to this issue for our society to have chances to survive. There are a lot of different possibilities which Social media and the Internet give people, and they should use them to obtain more information, develop their skills, and become a part of contemporary society.
Lustig, M., & Koester, J. (2010). Intercultural Competence. (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education.
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Panoramic Virtual Tour. Web.
Schrock, A., & Boyd, D. Online Threats to Youth: Solicitation, Harassment, and Problematic Content. Web.
Six Kinds of Applied Conversation Analysis (2011). In C. Antaki (Ed.), Applied Conversation Analysis. (pp.1–14). London : Palgrave Macmillan.
Wang, C. (2009). On Linguistic environment for foreign language acquisition. Asian Culture and History, 1(1): 58 – 62.
Warschauer, M. (2001). Online Communication. Web.
Wood, J. (2012). Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters. (7th Ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning.