With the development of the modern society, technologies are penetrated deep into people’s lives. They have quickly evolved into a vital incentive in developing not only the global economy, but also other spheres of human activity. It is difficult to find a sphere, which does not use information technology. The internet, in particular, has become an indispensable companion, counsellor and guide for people around the world.
Just a few decades ago, people’s life was much different. High technologies were meant to make the life easier and changed it beyond recognition. People are surrounded by a variety of technological devices that work for them every day, performing all kinds of household and professional tasks, like washing clothes or recording sound. The internet often serves a channel that connects intangible ideas and knowledge with physical devices and people. It is true to say that heavy usage of internet is capable of transforming and uniting cultures, creating homogenous world culture and global society.
Internet is widespread. It is manifested in virtually every area of human life, such as economics, culture, law, politics, education, language, spiritual and moral development. There are three main impacts associated with the growth in internet use. Firstly, following the generally accepted norms of behaviour, commitment to the common cultural values, universal principles of life, the desire to universalize everything. Secondly, naturally growing interdependence, integration of individual forms of social life. Thirdly, the social aspect, which concerns the life strategies of individuals and changes in social relations.
The youth, who is the most vulnerable to external influence social group, is adjudged under the impact of both negative and positive factors of the Internet. The youth, as the primary user of internet, recognizes it as the most outstanding source of information. It is well-known fact that students often use online writing services such as writer-elite.com to make the writing process easier. Young people are particularly susceptible and easily master a variety of technical innovations. ‘Internet has become especially popular amongst the younger generations who have been brought up ‘computer literate’ and are therefore not discouraged by any technicalities associated with it’. In the modern space of the internet, there are many cultural communities. Among them, there is the so-called ‘fandoms’. Young people tend to join them and unite with fans of famous literary texts, series, movies, music artists from different countries. Since the internet has been ‘adopted and integrated into the daily lives of an increasing number of young adolescents in Western countries, scholars and commentators are debating the impact of these new media on the activities, social relationships, and worldviews of the younger generations’. Whether positive or negative, it is clear that the impact internet has on youth culture is great.
Today, there is a distinct socio-cultural gap between those, who have access to the Internet, and those, who do not have it. The first category of world’s population, often defined as Western culture, gets more opportunities, free and rapid access to information, thus, possess sustainable competitive advantage. Easy access to internet in the developed Western economies makes the dissemination of Western culture, unity and integration of different audiences, and bringing others to a homogeneous world culture possible.
Internet is not simply one of the ways of storing and broadcasting the cultural experience. It is a way of organizing cultural content, which makes a significant change in the architecture of the culture itself. By the scale of its influence on the global culture, the Internet is comparable to the invention of writing and printing. If the traditional literary culture exists on the basis of text, hypertext is a form of organization of cultural assets on internet. In the linguistic aspect, it is a new phenomenon in the textual criticism. Hypertext is a new way of thinking in the language reflection. Hypertext is capable of a significant transformation, shifting to the interpretation of its content in many ways. Hyperlinks allow structuring information.
The effect internet induces on culture can be further resolved into two components. The first is related to the erosion of boundaries of national cultures, overcoming language barriers, the destruction of walls between such forms of culture as science, art, education, leisure, etc. The second one arises from the fact that each person has the opportunity not only passively to accept the content of culture, but also to influence the world of culture. Internet proclaims the birth of a global dialogue of culture, in which each participant has a voice and can affect the overall sound. The phenomenon of internet opens up a new horizon of culture that focuses on global creativity and contribution of each individual.
If the internet was made available to everyone, it would be a tremendous benefit not only to the education system, but also for the culture of the society as a whole. As a result, young users of computer networks would have a number of motives, interests, needs, goals, attitudes and forms of social and psychological activities related to this new space. The growth in internet use creates particular problems that can become global in the new century as well.
Some people oppose the spread of internet basing on the assumption that modern information means have limited social and educational information resources and are focused mainly on leisure and entertainment. They believe that general instability in the society and other factors lead to moral decadence and spiritual poverty in the society. It means that such concepts as compassion, love, respect for other peoples, lose their true essence, instead rudeness, callousness, cruelty, indifference to everything and everyone become a habitual phenomenon. While this opinion contains some truth, people should not forget that processes of moral decline and destruction of human harmony are present not only in the outside world, but also within ourselves. The loss of faith in the ideals by people of the older generations leads to a deficiency of spirituality and sense of national identity in their children. As a result younger generation then gives more value to individual aspirations and goals, demonstrating their beliefs daily. According to Mesch, ‘acting in a media-rich environment and a bedroom culture, the Net-generation or digital natives express different values, attitudes, and behaviours than previous generations’. Thus, there are increasing youth crime and lowering moral and ethical behaviour.
On one hand, internet can play an enormous educational role thanks to its huge audience and effect on the minds. On the other hand, the information society cannot solve the problem of new information culture, the problem of the legal and moral responsibility of the individual. Globalization of cultural and social life increases the share of this responsibility.
One cannot deny that internet gives the illusion of permissiveness, sometimes provoking to manifest the worst traits of character. For instance, there are clubs of suicide, addicts, and terrorists on the Internet. In these clubs, one can order the death, buy a stick of dynamite, or have training of drug stabbing. Also, the Internet is full of various pornography, including the child one. Violence is not forbidden too. These factors contribute to the development of negative cultural assets in the youth culture. Especially when there is anonymity, there is no limit to the possible affects Internet might have on its users and society at large.
At the same time, internet contributes to the development of language. It should be noted that words in the virtual space are often used without compliance with spelling. In chat rooms, forums, texts are written without punctuation, often without capital letters, with many abbreviations and misspellings. The modern youth is trying to communicate in a more simplified, often illiterate language – Internet slang. In the future, this may influence the culture of a whole generation. The language of internet users is also differentiated by age and occupational category, proficiency in computer technology, interests, and preferred activities.
‘In the social web people have found a new way to communicate. Since its creation in 2004, Facebook has grown into a worldwide network of over 1,000 million subscribers’ (Internet World Stats n.d.). Internet, as a special communicative environment and as previously non-existent sphere of realization of the language, has brought new ways of communicating, stereotypes of verbal behaviour, and the existence of new forms of language.
The impact on language should not be only be seen in the negative light, internet also updates language. Many popular sites are the originators of a large number of new words in everyday speech. For example, the term ‘to google’ means the process of finding something. The word ‘like’ is used on Facebook to mark liked announcement or comment. The term ‘avatar’ is photo or picture for a profile on social networking sites. The change in language structure comes together with a growing virtual image of the world. The language used reflects life on the Internet space with its specific features. Obviously, there is a change of values: computer education became more valuable than language study. Thus, it is particularly trendy to speak a simplified language, which is contrary to the rules of customary communication.
Students and schoolchildren are regular users of modern computer technology. They do not always stop at the well-known expressions and try change words from other areas of life, such as music, art, sports and educational activities. Therefore, there are common reasons for the use of slang among young people: inner desire to stand out from the crowd, showing bold and resolute attitude, expression of accumulated emotions, identifying own group of communication, confronting the adult world, boredom and routine, reluctance to be like everyone else, passion for social networking and online games. The last point is the most interesting and confusing to the uninitiated user. Global network influenced the formation of a new sub-section of youth slang – ‘gaming slang’. This slang is gradually transformed into constant use not only by gamers, but also by ordinary teenagers, who feel the need for self-expression. ‘If children are increasingly communicating in an alternative language form, this may have implications for their communication and literacy skills, as it may be encouraging the development of new skills or leading to the loss of others’. Often, young people do not even think about the meaning of the word, the appropriateness of its use, which indicates comprehensive penetration of gaming lexicon in the sphere of mass pronunciation.
The online slang shows low levels of literacy, the reduction of lexemes with violations of the rules of the language, the inappropriateness of using expressions, unsought use of unfamiliar words. Owing to the growth in internet use, the intertextuality of speech began to develop intensively. According to Sourabh and Mansotra, who studied the influence of English language on Hindi, ‘the English language has influenced Indian languages in many ways: it affected the pronunciation of Hindi words. So many English words have been localized in India. Some of the words appear as if they were native Hindi words’. This case is not unique, many languages have experienced the impact of English. For instance, Zuckermann revealed the changes in Chinese language due to the growth in internet use. However, there is a belief that the Internet forces language to grow more rapidly, reflecting the trend of rapid social development.
The change of consciousness of internet user, forming a new network thinking and lifestyle, greatly influences the language situation. Generated by the external reality, the Internet space can exist only with the active human engagement in its creation and development. The language that can be found on the Internet is a real, live, human thinking, which is realized in the form of the text in its new guise that combines not only the verbal utterance, but also the colour, sound, graphics and animation.
Internet is already firmly entrenched in the life of modern society. There is a reciprocal relationship between culture and language. Culture cannot exist without communication, regardless of the communication process. At the same time, communication has its basis in the rules of conduct that are based on cultural norms and values. The internet offers many opportunities to communicate in different languages, access to textual and multimedia information, which promotes general awareness of the world, building skills of interaction with different cultures, establishing causal relationships of various socio-cultural events and general socialization. However, there are also disadvantages of the growth of Internet use. They are primarily related to the youth culture and speech. Internet influences the consciousness of young people in a negative way by providing dangerous information. Moreover, the language of teenagers, who constantly use internet, has changed.
It is obvious that the growth in internet use has affected cultures around the world. It is also possible that Western cultures and English language will permeate even more into other indigenous cultures and lead to homogenous world culture. However, the emergence of the westernized global society may not be quick since many cultures have long historical tradition and their own language that certainly influence how people identify themselves.
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