GRE Issue Essay 184
“The worldwide distribution of television programs and advertisements is seriously diminishing the differences among cultures.”
Today television is an integral part of every household. Television viewing has become a daily activity, more than a source of entertainment for everyone. It offers its viewers an exposure with which they are exposed to most of the world and its culture. People get influenced with its programs and advertisements to a great extent. I agree that these programs and advertisements are diminishing the differences among cultures. There is an increased awareness about different cultures that results in blending of traits of all cultures.
Since television has become increasingly popular, its programs and advertisements reach to a wide range of people. Moreover, the freedom of expression has further encouraged these programs to depict varied cultures. There are programs and movies from the west telecasted in the east. Similarly, the western countries can access the programs of the eastern countries. This not only makes it easier for them to understand different cultures but they also adopt many of these traits consciously or unconsciously.
For example, since the western movies are shown in almost all parts of the world alike, it creates a great impact on the minds of its viewers. The film stars belonging to one part of the world become known and are admired by people all around the world who watch them on televisions and advertisements. These stars define fashion by what they wear and how they look, and people try to imitate their favorite star. In turn they incorporate many traits of the culture as are depicted by these stars. Similarly, the Buddhist culture made famous by the television programs has become very famous all over the world. We can see people from different parts of the world taking to Buddhism and other such sects since they have been encouraged by what they watch on television.
This trend of borrowing from other cultures is most commonly seen amongst youngsters who are always ready to try new things. Young girls get influenced by clothes worn by Britney Spears and want to look like her. Therefore, a similar pattern of clothes can be seen adorned by a Chinese, American, Indian as well as Malaysian. However, this cultural influence is not restricted to youngsters only. Others seem to incorporate some features of a foreign culture in their lives as well. For example, people are shifting from joint families toward nuclear families, and from nuclear families to living alone or with a partner. Where marriages were an important feature of many cultures, live-in relationships can increasingly be seen in every part of the world.
There is no doubt that the role played by television programs and advertisements in diminishing the differences amongst cultures is immense. As a result, a cosmopolitan culture has come into existence that can be identified by most of the people all over the world. However, this does not mean that the original cultures would cease to exist in the times to come. Like there are people who accept the features of another culture, there are those who strictly follow their culture. This means that even if there is intermixing of cultures there are those who preserve their culture willingly.
In the end I would like to conclude by saying that television not only introduces different cultures to people but also influences them to follow the traits in such a way that the difference in two cultures begins to diminish. At the same time it is by the conscious and deliberate efforts of few strong willed people that there is hope of survival of distinct cultures.