Do you use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube to promote your business, products or services to domestic and international markets or do you use it only to post pictures of weddings, children, parties and personal opinions? If so, you already realize how your language and culture differ and are evolving with respect to other languages and cultures.
In 2005, YouTube, which was founded by several PayPal employees, allowed anyone with the right software and Internet access to create, share and view their personal and professional videos with the world. Since Youtube’s founding, the company has altered the way millions of people use the Internet, share ideas, educate students and even promote acts of terrorism. Today, the company is owned and operated by Google. According to Wikipedia, approximately 60 hours of new videos are uploaded to the site each minute, with almost 75% coming from outside the U.S.
Social media inventions such as YouTube and Facebook have transformed the way people communicate. Personal events, tragedies, routine occurrences, acts of violence and humorous moments caught on video from a cell phone camera or a digital video recorder can be shared among a small group of people and then go viral and be viewed by millions who influence entire movements.
On Facebook and Google+, people share their comments with “friends,” a term whose meaning has been changed, based on the global, cultural and social impacts of using Facebook. Today, “friend” refers to people, businesses, organizations or some other entity users connect with through the site. It is no longer just a noun but is a commonly used verb meanng to connect electronically with someone else to share information.
The advent of social media has transformed the way people from across the globe, as well as nearby friends, colleagues, distant acquaintances and relatives, communicate, maintain connections and build relationships. Social media sites offer people the opportunity to connect on all levels. People with similar interests join circles, old friends reconnect and new friends join together. Social media has made low context cultures more context oriented by enabling involvement in other people’s lives through posts, photos, videos, etc., and satisfies human curiosity.
Languages have evolved because of this technology. People are using abbreviations and acronyms, contracted forms and colloquialisms, which have become the writing style of the Internet. Emoticons, symbols indicating feelings are freely inserted into the abbreviated text to signal the writer’s mood.
Storytelling, once a major component of a culture, is being replaced by other activities, such as surfing, googling and watching movies. Book reading used to be a hobby, but now it’s not. The popularity of social media has influenced interaction and group participation in new ways. Individuals may never meet, but may cary on a close relationship for years. They may also meet on short notice for parties or flash mobs. Flash mobs have formed that have begun revolutions, political campaigns have been launched, presidents have been elected and the success and failure of businesses have been influenced by the opinions and reviews of users of social media.
Sarah Detlef teaches Spanish, German and French to high school and college students. In 1990, she started a 24 hour Houston translation services company called 24HourTranslation.com. She is available to discuss any questions concerning professional langauge translation.