America online : How US culture influences the digital landscape
American culture has had the most impact on digital culture because the most popular online platforms revolve around American culture and business practices. In this essay, I will explain how American popular culture, social climate, and corporate capitalism are the main things that contribute to digital culture. Through our readings of Zuboff, Hurst, and online discussions we can see the impact that America has on the Internet.
Firstly, American celebrity culture has a far reach on the most popular social media platforms online. Since the mid-2000s, on twitter.com and Facebook American celebrities have very big platforms that attract millions of people around the world.
One example is twitter.com, where celebrities are very outspoken on political issues as a form of community outreach. These celebrities have an immense presence on these platforms, and they have a hand in shaping the opinions of millions of people, most of whom are very young. The opinions of Hollywood figures are seen and adopted throughout the world. One clear example is their tendency to lean left politically on many issues, and this influences their followers globally. According to Newport Academy, “celebrities have a powerful impact on how teens view themselves and how they see the world.” (https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/empowering-teens/celebrities-influence/). Celebrities also have “star-power” that lends itself to activism and social issues, where they can “shed light on issues and persuade audiences”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebrity_influence_in_politics). With the availability of information through smartphones and social media, celebrity opinion is able to reach billions of people globally in an instant, and greatly influence certain peoples’ opinions. During summer 2020, Hollywood as a whole voiced its opinion on race relations, police, and other social issues. This helped to cause similar movements all over the world. One example is the question of police brutality. There are also positive messages such as the pushing of quarantine measures during the pandemic. The outspokenness of these powerful American groups has a great effect on digital culture as people around the world tend to follow their ideas.
Also, American capitalism is one of the driving forces behind the entire Internet as well as digital culture. Many American companies have invested greatly in the advancement of the Internet to reach as many people as possible, and their efforts have led to positive and negative results. In our readings this semester, Zuboff discusses surveillance capitalism and its harmful effects. She specifically mentions how Facebook and Google harvest our data ‘’not only to predict our behavior but also to influence and modify it’’ (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/oct/04/shoshana-zuboff-surveillance-capitalism-assault-human-automomy-digital-privacy). American tech giants while expanding the Internet have understood that there is big money to be made in collecting out data. They use our data in order to find out what trends we have and how to best market to us with the end goal of making as much money off of millions of Internet users. American consumer culture uses surveillance capitalism to target as many people around the world to buy products. Mark Hurst describes the ‘’ exploitative practices that were then being perfected by Google, Facebook, and others’’ (https://www.theculturecrush.com/feature/not-so-candid-camera). These examples range from Coca Cola ads to influencing foreign politics. American political and capitalist culture in regards to consumerism American capitalism, through corporate entities, has influenced digital culture in such a way to sell as many products worldwide as possible. Companies such as Amazon and Nestle expand globally and use the Internet to get us to buy more products. This is why gathering our data through surveillance capitalism is so important for them. According to Hurst, ‘’there’s a whole cottage industry of these shadowy data brokers that do horrible things—Peter Thiel’s Palantir for example’’ (Hurst). Just as shady business practices exist in our own world these also exist in the digital sphere.
Cancel culture is another product of American digital culture on social media. American social practices online have expanded throughout the entire world. Cancel culture is a phenomenon that now affects people across the world. The idea that once past can be weaponized against them in such a way that they lose their job or their social standing is now a reality for everyone online. On our online discussion forums, user Latecomers talks about how cancel culture affects everyone both high profiled celebrities and ordinary people (http://interculturalextraneity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=23). We are all aware of the canceling figures such as Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, figures in American media. However, now cancel culture, born out of American online discourse has spread worldwide. Latecomers mentions how having transphobic posts online can get many people fired from a job in many countries outside of America. This is furthered by corporate and tech giants which have significant left-leaning views. Twitter, for example, exists in silicon valley which is a very left-leaning area, and so obviously they will practice selective enforcement of speech on their platform. This influences cancel culture along with the overall discussion on the site and has effects worldwide. Sometimes, these effects are very negative and people are canceled for the wrong reasons. A popular make-up YouTuber, James Charles, was a subject of intense online harassment after facing allegations of being a sexual predator, as it was discussed in this article https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/cancelling-james-charles-beauty-youtuber-loses-3-million-subscribers-weekend-n1005131. Although he later proved his innocence, a large number of people mobbed his platform and sponsors, and caused him to lose a lot of his support.
By way of American culture, economics, and politics, the digital culture has taken on a completely new form. Hollywood, capitalism and online social politics have shaped the online landscape in such a way that it affects the entire world.
I hereby confirm that this work is solely the result of my own independent scholarly work and that if any ideas, text passages, or diagrams from books, papers, the Web or other sources have been copied, paraphrased, or in any other way used, all references – including those found in electronic media – have been clearly acknowledged and fully cited.
group SAK: S.G. 2017/0522