The Impact of international communications on American Society

Impacts of international communications in America according to McPhail (2014), leads to major globalisation issues of communication, emphasising the interconnectedness of media and information flows worldwide. Firstly, the historical perspective and evolution of the internet allows for international communications stemming into the rise of American society. With social media and economic implications challenging the American economy demonstrating major impacts on American society.

Historical Perspective

The evolution of international communications, driven by advances in technology, has been shaped significantly by news agencies like Reuters and the Associated Press (AP). Beginning with telegraphs in the mid-19th century, rapid information transmission across vast distances initiated a global communication network, fundamentally altering international information dissemination. News agencies such as Reuters and AP have acted as intermediaries between foreign events and American audiences, offering comprehensive coverage and broadening Americans’ understanding of global events (Allan, 2022).

Subsequently, radio and television broadcasting, as discussed in “Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio” by Tom Lewis (2021), further transformed international communications by bringing global news and events directly into American homes. Live broadcasts and news reports provided immersive insights into the world.

Fast-forwarding to today’s digital era, as Benkler (2006) notes, the internet has revolutionised international communication, democratising access to global news sources. Allowing individuals to directly access information, breaking down traditional gatekeeping  mechanisms and expanding diverse perspectives (Hartley, 2003). Initially, the printing press played a role in decentralising information distribution, but major corporations and government institutions still primarily controlled content. However, the networked internet economy shifted the balance of communication power to everyday individuals, achieving greater decentralisation. This transition, along with rises in social media, marked a significant milestone in the shift from centralised to decentralised communication technology, empowering people in the process.

Social Media

Social media platforms today, enables ordinary citizens, journalists, and activists to actively participate in shaping the narrative surrounding global events (Hutchinson, 2021). This profound shift towards decentralised and immediate information dissemination has significantly enriched the American populace’s understanding of worldwide developments. It’s crucial to recognise that social media movements aren’t solely products of the digital realm; rather, they emerge from the very fabric of everyday life and the experiences of individuals (Rafiq, 2018). These movements are deeply intertwined with broader social and political activism, driven by an unwavering commitment to justice. Moreover, they serve as a platform for marginalised voices, granting them a voice that had been suppressed for far too long.

No harassing, Me too movement” by Mark Morgan Trinidad B is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Consider the #MeToo movement, which serves as a prominent example. Its roots stretch back to 2006, when the dedicated social activist Tarana Burke laid the foundation for a movement aimed at fostering “empowerment through empathy” for survivors of sexual violence, with a particular focus on young women of colour within disadvantaged communities. Despite Burke’s pioneering efforts, it took more than a decade for the Me Too movement to transition into a mainstream, global campaign against sexual abuse.

In October 2017, actress Alyssa Milano leveraged the social media platform Twitter, sharing her personal experience of sexual abuse, using the simple yet profound phrase “Me Too.” Milano’s disclosure served as a catalyst, inspiring numerous others to come forward with their own stories. The hashtag #MeToo rapidly disseminated on Twitter, with an astonishing 1.7 million mentions spanning 85 countries. This digital wave also prompted responses from numerous female celebrities who echoed the resounding message.

However, it’s vital to recognise that the Me Too movement’s impact extended far beyond the confines of the internet. It galvanised participation and activism from incredibly diverse spectrums of individuals and social groups. Finding expression and mobilisation across various arenas and platforms, ranging from social media to workplaces, red carpet events with female celebrities wearing black attire or white roses, and courtrooms highlighting the movement’s tangible impact on societal norms and practices. Social media played a pivotal role in raising awareness about the movement, but its significance transcended the digital sphere, translating that awareness into tangible actions against sexual violence in physical spaces.

Black Lives Matter Austria movement, male teen holding End White Supremacy sign” by Ivan Radic is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Similarly, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, a social justice initiative dedicated to advocating for the rights, equality, and justice of Black individuals, emerged in response to systemic racism, police brutality, and violence targeting Black people. Its mission encompasses addressing and combatting racial discrimination and inequality across various sectors, including law enforcement, the criminal justice system, education, employment, and healthcare.

The movement gained prominence in 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, and further intensified in 2014 after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. BLM is distinguished by its sustained activism, protests, and advocacy initiatives aimed at raising awareness about racial injustice and advocating for substantive reforms and policy changes. Its impact extends globally, inspiring numerous demonstrations and initiatives worldwide.

Social media played an indispensable role in the global dissemination and impact of the BLM movement. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram served as powerful tools for organising protests, sharing information, and mobilising support on a global scale. Viral hashtags, such as #BlackLivesMatter, amplified the movement’s message and facilitated worldwide solidarity. The movement even prompted symbolic actions, such as the Instagram blackout in honour of George Floyd. Social media enabled individuals and communities worldwide to engage with the movement’s goals, share personal experiences, and contribute to the broader conversation on racial injustice.

In summary, the evolution of international communication has witnessed a series of technological milestones, from telegraphs to the internet and social media. Throughout this transformation, Reuters and AP have consistently played a pivotal role in connecting and providing timely and accurate information in shaping American’s perceptions of global events. Simultaneously, these technological advancements have empowered individuals, revolutionising how global news and information are accessed and shared, giving rise to influential movements that transcend the digital realm.

Economic Implications

International communication has profound economic implications for American society. The globalised nature of today’s world means that the United States is deeply interconnected with the rest of the globe in terms of trade, finance, and information flow. This has both positive and negative economic consequences, and these implications have been the subject of extensive research analysis.

For Trade and Export Opportunities International communication facilitates trade by allowing American businesses to reach a global audience and plays a critical role in expanding export opportunities. Enabling companies to market their products and services worldwide. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, exports supported an estimated 11.7 million jobs with more than 41 million jobs depending on trade in the U.S. on international communication in 2019. For Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Access to international communication networks attracts foreign direct investment. Multinational corporations invest in the U.S., creating jobs and stimulating economic growth. In turn, strengthening the U.S. economy. The Global Supply Chains, International communication plays a pivotal role in global supply chains. American companies rely on inputs and components from various countries. Efficient communication is essential for managing these supply chains, reducing costs, and improving competitiveness. The Technology Transfer represents International communication allowing for exchange of knowledge and technology. American firms can collaborate with foreign partners, leading to innovations and advancements that can benefit the U.S. economy (Mansfield, 1974). The digital economy (USBEA, 2022), driven by international communication, has become a significant part of the U.S. economy. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple generate substantial revenues from global users, demonstrating high economic values of cross-border information flows.

However, international communication also presents challenges and risks. Cybersecurity Threats the Greater connectivity increases risks of cyberattacks, leading to significant economic costs. The loss of intellectual property and disruptions to critical infrastructure can harm American businesses and the economy. Data Privacy Concerns as the international transfer of data also raises concerns about privacy and data protection. Regulatory changes, like the European Union’s GDPR, can impact how American companies handle data and can entail compliance costs. American companies such as google are being fined for not complying with data privacy laws all around the world. Trade Disputes as International communication can also be a source of tension in trade relations, with disputes and tariffs disrupting supply chains and impact American exporters and consumers.

In conclusion, the impact of international communications on American society has led to them to be innovative and empowered through social media and connect with the world benefitting economically. International communication has also become an indispensable aspect of American economy. It drives trade, fosters innovation, and connects American businesses to global markets. However, it also introduces challenges related to security, data privacy, and trade tensions. To navigate this complex landscape, policymakers and businesses must carefully consider the economic implications of international communication while striving to maximise its benefits.

The Impact of international communications on American society © 2023 by Jenna Ah Hee is licensed under CC BY 4.0 


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