Wednesday, April 17, 2013
To what culture do I belong?
Anthropology talks about culture quite often but at the same time discourages the use or rather urges caution in its use as a term. This all occurs because it is difficult to define the term culture. To explain why all we need to do is ask and then try to answer the question, “To what culture do I belong?”
You might say, “Oh, that’s easy. I’m Russian or Chinese or Korean or British or American.”
But is that really the case? Can we truly sum up a person’s culture so simply and so completely? What if you are African American? Does the distinction make a difference? What about a gay man? Will he think that that part of who he is an important part of his culture? Maybe you are part of a video game culture. Are all video game cultures alike?
We are all members of a multitude of cultures and organizations. We are also able to say that our connections to each of these organizations and cultures varies in strength.
I had a discussion with my roommate the other night about social media and he questioned, “How strong can connections be that are made over social media platforms?” It is a sensible question. Can we really compare a friend on Facebook with a friend that I have at the office. My contention would be, “Of course!”
Social media is exactly that. It is a media platform upon which we are social. How strong our connections are is up to the people being connected. There are certainly limiting factors to the experience. For example, you cannot actually give somebody a physical hug over the internet. Physical contact is not important to everybody and if that is an issue for a group then it will limit the strength of a relationship but that is up to the individual participants.
The more important issues are the levels of trust and openness that a group shares and the direct value that is ascribed to the relationship.
So I ask the question again, “How many cultures do you belong to and how strong is their pull on you? Do you find that social media is a drain on your resources or does it add to what you can do by adding the resources of others to you? Is social media its own distinct culture or is it just a platform?”