Can Twitter bridge cultural gaps?

Can a communication medium that is as fragmented as a 140-character idea really help with bridging the cultural divides that exist in our world? Jessica Faye Carter seems to think so. As a columnist who writes about social media technologies in multicultural communities, she has a few things to say about the benefits of Twitter in cross-cultural engagement. In an article that appeared on Mashable.com, she says people all over the world are using the open architecture of Twitter to discuss just about anything, including culture. Since people from a variety of cultural backgrounds use Twitter to talk about their lives, there now exists a massive amount of information that allows us to engage in cultural exploration. According to her, there are a few main reasons why people who are interested in cross-cultural communication should be interested in Twitter.

# 1 It facilitates cross-cultural engagement. It can be easier to understand people when you remove body language, accents, and tone. There are also several programs that allow people to tweet in their native language or translate foreign languages into their own.

#2 Open design. With Twitter you can contact just about anyone from anywhere. All you have to do is search by interest or location, and you can find some people in Japan in order to chat with them openly about cultural taboos that you should avoid in your next business trip. With Twitter, most people are pretty comfortable with tweeting and messaging back and forth, as long as they don’t have to share any private information.

#3 There isn’t any predominant culture. Twitter isn’t a community, it’s a conglomeration of tens of thousands of communities that are chatting back and forth. Any culture can form its own community and attract like-minded folks to join the conversation.

#4 Anyone can receive attention on Twitter. Attention is an important part of our lives. It helps us feel important! By giving your attention to others (especially those of other cultures) you can help others feel important and develop friendships.

The bottom line is Twitter is a great place to network. Here in Logan (despite our decent level of diversity) it can be very difficult to find representatives from the many cultures in our world. Twitter becomes the perfect terminal for exploring other cultures by conversing with other people! What are your opinions about Twitter? Have you had any good/bad experiences?

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