The Role of Technology in Globalization
Information and communication technology (ICT) has boosted intercultural communication considerably in the past decades. Access to the Internet allows people from all over the globe to exchange information at a moment’s notice. Using the Internet decreases the costs of communication drastically, as it does not rely on physical media that need to travel actual distances anymore. Another essential component of technological progress in terms of communication is the abundance of digital devices from personal computers to smartphones that facilitate information exchange.
These advancements mean that intercultural communication is no longer the prerogative of the “circumstantially advantaged segments of society,” but something available to larger and larger parts of the population. As a result, communication between cultures becomes not only more important but also more intensive than ever before. If one compares this state of things to the one of 20 years earlier, the major difference is the increased ability of the ICT to both consolidate and divide people.
In 2000, traditional media, such as television and newspapers, remained the people’s primary sources of information. Under these circumstances, the idea of a political movement organized and carried out with an almost exclusive reliance on the Internet was hardly conceivable. However, the Arab Spring of 2011 or the Ukrainian protests of 2014 demonstrated the consolidating potential of contemporary ICT. On the other hand, the abundance of data in today’s Internet as compared to that 20 years ago makes it easier to create a “filter bubble” saturated only with the agreeable information. This trend may lead to the people being implacably convinced in their rightness and refusing to consider opposing viewpoints. Thus, contemporary technologies have a far greater potential to both consolidate and divide people than 20 years before.