Global communication enables and facilitates the experience of anxiety and fear in a risky and networked society.

EMMANUEL MUTISYA NGUI

Supervisor: Dr George Nyabuga

Issues in Global Communication

School of Journalism, University of Nairobi

Castells (2004) describes a networked society as a society with a social structure with a social system that operates within interconnected technologies. These technologies are an output of advancing global communications which has its greater impact centered on the power and risks caused by cultural integration, production of goods and attempts by humans in building individual life experiences. Hosseini, S. A. (2010) inquiry on whether the consequences of global communication are an opportunity or threat in today’s highly networked society opens up a whole discussion on how global communication effects on  these aspects of culture, production and its cause effect values in trade. In addition, through this discourse the world is seen as a highly polarized place due to presence of factors such as the evident transformation in politics caused by technological advancements leading to what Axford, B. and Huggins, R.  (2001) refer to as a resulting democratic illness. However, just how does global communication enable and facilitate the experiences of anxiety and fear in today’s networked society?

 

The classical Marxist theory on social development makes a vividly  noticeable increasing contradiction between current social relationships of production, basic lifestyles, inter-personal relationships and the potential expansion of formidable productive forces as influenced by the revolutionizing nature of technological innovation and advancement.

Barney (2004, study on the structure of relationships within a networked society explains the transitions of how a society’s growth depends highly on its access to and control of information and therefore less developed societies with minimal access to similar technologies appear to experience slower development graphs. This is also a similar experience to individuals who may not embrace certain technological developments at given times and exposes such systems to the risk of being locked out of business.

 

Issues like new world orders begin to emerge where modern and post-modern experiences come to cut across common issues as such as resolving the issues of immediacy versus human obsession realism as technology continues to play a main role as agents of cultural integration without falling into the trap of technological determinism  (Bolter,2000) . Unlike ads in magazines or other real-world publications, ‘banner’ ads on Web pages change with every page view. And most of the companies that place the ads on the Web site track your movements across the Net, ‘remembering’ which ads you’ve seen, exactly when you saw them, whether you clicked on them, where you were at the time and the site you have visited just before.

McLuhan (1967) speaks about the ignorance of the masses on the impact of electric technology saying that “the masses are numb, deaf, blind, and mute about its encounter with the Gutenberg technology.” While this was an old media platform, masses are getting excited about the nature of emerging new media trends as they influence realism and immediacy of live occurrences. Technology is today being applied to every level of our social systems and he adds that there is “No time to suggest strategies when the threat has not even been acknowledged to exist as the consequences caused by these new media trends are still quite invisible and quite unrecognized by the users”.

The Web poses challenges to legal institutions to control information as has being observed with recent changing trends in the media environments as main stream media loses its gatekeeping role to new emerging citizen journalists operating within an unmanned digital platform. This is a worrying controversy over whether or not to censor the World Wide Web (Burnett Robert & Marshall, David, 2003). Citizen journalists who now exist under such titles as influencers, digital political analysts publish information which in the recent past has seen the United States president Donald Trump engage media in conversations f how to safeguard information and develop strategies to control fake news.

The diffusion of technological development as a highly responsive medium to the needs of a vastly globalizing world explains the issue of intellectual property rights as strategically so important yet so neglected with the emergence and application of new media which mainly utilizes duplication of content without giving credit to content creators (Vlessing, 2011)

Global communication has changed the nature of the society from amore communal set up to a private realm which occupies a position of the society in opposition to the state. At the same time, the society stands in clear contrast to the state making it one of the many  issues of public interest and private interest too (Habermas, J.1974). This undesignated position of the society in a networked world questions the potential of new media in addressing challenges that come with an electronically interconnected human society existing in a digitizing planet where not everyone has equal access to technology. In particular, this unequal access creates changes that lead to ever greater inequalities therefore causing wider gaps with unproven strategies on how to ensure new focus on ensuring better access for all.

Further, the emergence of new media technologies brings about differential class-based access to technology in the form of the digital divide as well as knowledge gap which describes the ongoing and increasing gap in information for those who are less privileged to access technology. Meanings and emotion that once relied on the pretense of modern media to create simulation of sensible reality have seen media transformation reduce the media to its original condition as information carrier, nothing else, nothing more where media now becomes new media gaining a whole new meaning hence the greatest fear of information control ( Manovich, 1997).

Over years in history, human potential is lodged on new communication and emerging technologies thus creating new superficial relationships between humans and robots sharing confidential data that remains widely available on the internet. It is a question on the safety of this data and the possible consequences of the global internet connectivity which ranges from connecting home appliances as such as electronics to our offices and mobile phones. Innovations used to challenge the existing loopholes presented by the internet to bring about competition in the form of enhanced new communications safety tend to implode and gives no room to grow and shape the future for millions of new media users in a highly data care-free world (Castells and Kiselyova, 1995). Uncontrolled communication and self-organization at the socio-political levels bypassing the mass media is causing loss of purity and authenticity in key areas of news production. This is the case of insurgent political campaigns, such as the election irregularities that were reported in Kenya over the 2017 period. This is why in fact governments are open to the advantages of new communication trends as they praise their benefits, yet they fear to lose the control of information and communication in which power has always been rooted. Accepting democracy of communication is accepting direct democracy, something no state has accepted in history. Accepting a debate to redefine property rights goes to the heart of the legitimacy of capitalism (Rainer Forst and Rainer Schmalz-Bruns (eds), 2011)

 

McLuhan (1968) points out that new communication environments that are as a result of rapidly advancing technological innovations have new perceptions on the users that destroy the monopoly and priority of real time and space, making this older space look as though it is an unusual thing yet it has always being the people’s way of life before. This explains that the manner in which people use technology as such as their mobile phones has become more ritualistic as individuals just want to be on their mobile phone screens all the tie instead of socializing with people in a room set up, they prefer an imaginary online room set up, chatting with strangers, Thompson (1995) further explains about a distinctive social theory of communication media and their impact where he demonstrates development of communication media as a transformation  that has purely  transformed the spatial and temporal constitution of social life therefore creating new forms of human behavior, birth of new cultures and the extinction of the weaker cultures lost to a more superior Western cultures, According to Thomson, communication in the new media era is not in any way linked to sharing a common geographical location. This opens the last discussion on the issue of peace and security.

New media is often used as a tool to fuel different kinds of terrorism and other criminal activities as evidenced in recent years of experience in Nigeria’s crisis on national security that was threatened by different forms of terrorism challenges, In todays’ highly networked world, terrorist and other criminal groups are using the new media platforms to pass their information to the general public, because the platform is cheap and readily accessible (Ngige et al., 2016). Terrorists are hacking and creating clown accounts and taking advantage of individual’s identities and manipulating their accounts to serve their own selfish savage interests.

It is clearly evident that artificial intelligence is on the rise as organizations are embracing technology using robots to serve at their switchboards instead of real human beings who can engage and understand real time human needs.

(1500 words)

References

Axford, B. and Huggins, R. (eds.) (2001) New Media and Politics. London: Sage.

Barney, D. (2004) The Network Society. Cambridge: Polity

Bolter, J. D. and Grusin, R. (2000) Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Burnett, Robert & Marshall, David (2003) Web Theory: An Introduction. London, Routledge.

Habermas, J. (1974) ‘The Public Sphere’, New German Critique, 3 (Fall). 49-55.

Hosseini, S. A. (2010), Globalization, Culture and Identity

Manovich, L. (1997) The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

McLuhan, M. & Fiore, Q. (1967) The Medium is the Message. An Inventory of Effects. New York: Bantam Books.

McLuhan, M. & Fiore, Q. (1968) War and Peace in the Global Village. New York: Bantam Books.

Ngige, C.V., Badekale, A.F., Hamman, J.I. (2016), The media and boko haram insurgency in Nigeria: A content analysis and review. International Journal of Peace and Confliict Studies

Thompson, J. (1995) The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media. Cambridge: Polity.

Vlessing, Etan (2011) Introduction to Media and Technology
Rainer Forst and Rainer Schmalz-Bruns (eds) (2011) Political Legitimacy and Democracy in Transnational Perspective

 

 

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