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Author Topic: Growing Connections, Dying Culture  (Read 421 times)
koiyuki
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Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« on: August 17, 2007, 12:21:15 AM »

With the age of the internet, the world and all it's info, tales and culture are available for those willing to peruse and learn from it. In fields once dominated by professionals, the common man and woman, with a knack for whatever they do, can showcase their talents on a world wide stage, and possibly even make a living without going through any of the major channels typically required of them.

However, it is in this some believe the culture we knew from older days is dying away, becoming more and more generalized and losing it's individuality. Among them, the train of thought is that we, as creatives, cherry pick this and that to make something we call our own, but in reality looks just like the next person's style, and the next person's style, and so on, and so on. Among them, the train of thought is that those with opinions and the ability to network and advertise well are finding their views becoming that, of the people's view and sometimes gaining more precedent than those who are professional writers, journalists, and so on.

The simple question I pose to you all, is this: Are we, as a people, losing our culture, as we grow more connected to the world? 
« Last Edit: August 17, 2007, 12:25:41 AM by koiyuki » Logged

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Silverain
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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2007, 02:47:49 AM »

We are losing our culture?  Whatcha mean "we"?  What's your culture, and why do you assume it's the same as mine?  Just wondering.

The fact that I'm talking to you, via the World Wide Web, suggests that culture is not as geography-bound as it used to be, by any means.  Which is perfectly okay with me.  Human history is all a bunch of cultures subdividing, melding, occasionally springing up seemingly at random and disappearing for one cause or another.  And people have been extending communication beyond the speed their bodies can travel since at least the age of the telegraph.  Nah, back that up to the printing press.  Actually, probably far earlier, depending on how you define it...

I'm not a fan of political correctness, but if I was, I'd probably have a couple hyphens in my identity.  More than a couple.  I suspect there is nobody on earth who wouldn't, no matter how long their family has lived in one place and gone to the same house of worship.  That "we're all a minority of one" business.  People have asked me:  "So are you an 'American Jew' or a 'Jewish American'?"  Like I'd want to split up who I am and try to fit into just one category or the other.  I can be both if I want.  (Besides, there's lots of diversity within either group...)

I'll go even further: heritage isn't everything.  Even if you don't have mixed roots, what's wrong with enjoying other cultures?  This morning I took a test in Spanish and this evening I ate sushi, even though I have no ethnic connection to Mexico or Japan (apart from being the same species as people from those areas, which is a very good start).  I love diversity, but I'd be sad if people who had stuff I was interested in were all like, "Bugger off, this is our culture and you can't have any."  wtf.

Anyways ... our world of sound bites and mass marketing does tend to cheapen certain things.  Which is not cool.  Some parts of my culture have been put up for pop and that annoys the crap out of me.  But looked at from another angle, the small world is also a very fertile ground for creativity.  Either way it's what you make of it, I think.
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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2007, 07:31:15 PM »

I don't see culture as pigeonholing, but at its essence something within to call your own, to tie you to the land where you were born and raised. Something that perhaps does not translate to foreign people with explanations, stereotypes or a tourist trip. It's not "you can't have any of our culture" but at the same time nothing one can sample with traditional food or language or whatnot. Sadly, I feel that it's dying. My hometown is almost 800 years old and you can barely tell. That as such does not mean much in the context of what I said earlier, but makes one wonder what'll it be like in say, 20 years. I still feel it, though. Still intangible, but I'm not old or complete by any strech of imagination.

I'm also not sure about this "we" business, but the thread is about culture so here's my thoughts on the subject, anyways.
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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2007, 12:36:33 PM »

I often hear people who've come to America on a visit, or to say, or just live in some other country and I'm happening to talk to them, and I hear the following line:
"How can you live without a culture?"
or:
"But you have no culture or background to identify with!"

And, last I checked, I had a 100 million Americans in a similar situation.  Yet we're not depressed due to our supposed "lack" of culture.  We're not any more violent or aggresive than the rest of humanity, contrary to what some would have you believe.

So I suppose I don't see having a specific culture as a good thing.  In fact it seems stifling and tried.  I mean, sure, some cultures are pretty cool, but when you start saying: "well, I'm X culture", well then you have to start being that culture, and now you're limiting yourself.  Sure, some cultures are pretty open, but you'll notice that those open cultures are also vague, rarely well defined, and lack many of the "traditional" morals, values, and pasttimes that many other more monolithic cultures claim to have that make them so great.

I have no problem with the culture of the past becoming the culture of now, or changing from what it was.  You save the good parts and add in new stuff that hopefully makesit better.  Clinging to the past is dangerous, and while retaining "good" parts of old cultures is a smart idea, retaining ALL parts of old cultures isn't going to get you anywhere.

But change has always scared people.  When change happens, people with power can lose power, people with wealth can lose wealth, and people with happiness can lose that as well.  There is as much danger in taking on an amorphous culture and never settinling down to a few good rules as there is focusing solely on an old monolithic culture.  People desperatly want to hold on to something they find familiar and conforting, and when all the world is changing around them, they fall back to their old traditions.  And then claim to find pride in the "old ways".

Personally, I don't get the obsessive need for culture many people seem to exhibit.  From the hispanics I meet who want to be more Mexican while attending US schools and getting US money, to the Blacks who want to be like their African ancestors(who, much like Native Americans, are often portrayed as much nicer than they ever were).  It's even seen in some white people who want to be British, or German, like it somehow gives them a connection to a place they've never seen with their own eyes.   I don't get it.
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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2007, 09:34:48 PM »

last time i checked not having fancy cathedrals or thousand year old traditions doesn't mean you're cultureless.

Culture (according to the American Heritage Dictionary):
Quote
The predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group or organization.

just because my country (the USA) doesn't have the Vatican City, Venice, Victor Hugo, Mozart, Versailles, or Michaelangelo it doesn't mean it is a "cultural wasteland". calling it one would be an abuse of the word "culture". our culture might just be mainly fireworks in independence day, Graceland mansion, and Microsoft but so what? it's a culture and last time i checked Europe wasn't churning out renaissance masterpieces or the Greeks coming up with some unprecedented new way to look at the world.

i think too many people confuse literary and artistic masterpieces for "culture" when it is only a factor and not even that important outside of knowing it. it's terribly annoying since people pretend to be open minded by loving "culture" but do the opposite by shunning everything that isn't an opera or stunning architecture or a symphony. living in texas, i get taht comment a lot since apparently cowboys, rodeos, football, and college rivlaries doesn't count as "culture" since it doesn't sit well with the fine arts crowd. i'm not a big fan of texan culture but it's wrong saying 20 million people have no culture.

culture isn't dying. like mentioned before by silverain, it's just changing. the international change of culture happens like it did with the romans, with the crusades, the French revolution, the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the world wars, the cold war, the beginning of the computer age. every time it happened, humanity adjusted and we kept living on with new difficulties and new good things in life.

we might not like seeing something we're familiar with dying off, but the next generation won't give a crap. they'll just keep going, making some new culture. if a vague international culture is in that future, well there's nothing wrong with that and nothing we can do about it.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2007, 09:38:36 PM by Sleeper » Logged

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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2007, 11:02:26 PM »

Quote
culture isn't dying.

I'm not following this. It isn't a single entity.

If the next generation doesn't give a crap, then their culture is as good as dead. The past holds important lessons to impart and cultural heritage has powerful imagery to instill. Maybe arcitechture or art is not the point itself, but they damn well are monuments to show that there used to be something. Personally I find them invigorating.

Global culture... I'd imagine they'll do ren faires where they build networks from ancient computers and call each other names over the 'internet'. And suddenly global warming isn't such a bad thing. Let 'em fry...
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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2007, 11:23:27 PM »

Quote from: Wormwood on August 25, 2007, 11:02:26 PM
Quote
culture isn't dying.
I'm not following this. It isn't a single entity.

it isn't a single entity, just saying that the concept of culture itself isn't going away like many people imply, which, if you think about it, doesn't make any sense since it would imply we are devolving back into chimps.

i enjoy history much myself, especially seeing the marvels of human culture and civilization whether it be he pyramids or Machu Pichu but it annoys me that only societies with a history of greatness and masterpieces can be considered "cultured".

at least the internet lets me freely look at this stuff without having to shell out money for a trip to the library or to Europe.
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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2007, 01:42:53 PM »

Bah,  culture is culture. Doesn't matter who has the shiniest baubles.  We don't  have grand architecture or masterpieces here in Scandinavia, but we still have our cultures. And I don't give two shits about whether the French think so or not.

Quote
at least the internet lets me freely look at this stuff without having to shell out money for a trip to the library or to Europe.


Yeah, it does. Still, it's not the real deal... And it doesn't make it any less sad if they do the ren faire thing 
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zizi
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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2007, 11:57:10 AM »

conclusion: america does have a sense of culture even if it doesn't appease the rest of the world. remember, america is a rather young country compared to everywhere else.

conclusion #2: culture is inevitable. a group of people who happen to live and make a community together will create between themselves their own "culture." and humans are naturally pack animals.

conclusion #3: though the internet does let us navigate and access information about other country's culture and ideas, it cannot compensate for what culture and their world is like.  all in all, it's the people who create it, the culture and ideas a byproduct  so going out and experiencing it yourself is absolutely priceless.

conclusion #4: we're living in a world of constant change. change = fear, anger, and sometimes violence. globalizaiton has often than not, led to a clash of ideas and belief a.k.a. middle east n america (unfortuantely).
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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2007, 05:06:33 PM »

That was one hell of an impressive "drawing the strings together post", zizi. You are rewarded by an admin cookie.

In fact, this whole discussion was lovely. You can all have admin cookies!
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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2007, 08:38:01 PM »

 I see nothing wrong in losing what some could call ''something to call their own'' (a.k.a. culture).

 I know all too well the reality here of a ''dieing culture'' which, in a way, isn't empty, but based on a vain foundation: language.  Here, in my province, people are all screaming injustice when they (the Canadian government) aren't respecting the French language or something... ''Geez, I tell myself, conform or fade away''.  If they fear that their culture will be lost as the language they struggle to preserve is the very core of the said culture then, I'm sorry, but they have a pretty empty culture.  And if they fail at preserving it, then I'm afraid it's the ''Law of the Jungle'' that kicks in: the mass out-numbers the few; the strong takes over the weak.

But be not afraid, it doesn't mean the weak vanish; it is rather their ''idea of who they want to remain as'' that will be shattered for they will be ''changed''  (read: ''assimilated'').  Yet, they, and their culture, may still live.  In the eyes of a pro-French Quebeker, I am a disgrace.  I am not a Quebeker.  Yet, I see myself as one.  I know and cherish much of what I have learnt and what made me who I am as a kid.  I love the uniqueness of the French I speak and I preserve its essence, rather than its words... but mostly to help people understand why the language has become what it is here in Quebec.  I'm archiving this data for when it needs to be shared, if need be.  I am not a random face without a culture, I'm just not limited to one.  If it means being labaled as ''culturless'' then fine by me.  I'd rather be open to the world then closed to a people.

 What is it to conform by language, when one can remain who he is regardless of the spoken language?  When I go in another country or region of the world, whether I am more Quebeker or not, a part of who I am is shared to the people, and that part of me is part French-Canadian, part English, part American, part Buddhist, part Chinese, part Native American, part... you name it.  I have been raised in a world where I have but grown curious of other cultures, thanks to the exposure and access to knowledge banks greater than what a King could have ever dreamed of acquiring in his life back a millennium ago.

 Taboos?  What're those?  I may offend many by my behavior depending on which independent cultures I encounter, but I see very little chances of anyone from any cultures being able to offend me for a question of ''manners''.  I've learned to accept and, at times, be amused by ''awkward'' cultural clashes.

 Thanks to the internet, I have realized that the language is but the vessel of a culture.  And culture is limitless.  So if you know someone else's language, you can share cultures.  As simple as that.  Now, to have the other willing to open up to who you are is another thing, but making friends isn't the hardest thing out there.

 In conclusion, if ultimately it means the unification of cultures, languages, people and beliefs; then I will embrace such an idea that is the one of losing my own ''culture''.
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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2007, 02:01:54 PM »

Language is hardly trivial. Wanting to cling onto it doesn't make it "the very core" of the culture.

It annoys me that there are parts around here where people look down on you for speaking Finnish and that we have a political party which is designed to torpedo legislations that would weaken the status of Swedish as the second language of our country. But at least they're making a stand and I can appreciate that. In the jungle being vicious can be as good as being numerous.

No conforming for me, thanks. I'll have my language for my lifetime, the ones that come after me can make their own damn decisions.
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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2007, 06:25:15 PM »

Ideally, you shouldn't lose anything, in my opinion. Stick to your mothertongue, by all means.

Mine is luxembourgish, and I'm not ready to give it up. But then again, I don't want to restrict myself to it. If I did, I wouldn't be posting here. Well, I might, but you would hardly understand me.

I speak 4 languages fluently. I'm of a mind to learn a fifth, and maybe even a sixth. In my opinion that can only be for the win.

Culture is in all the little things. You cannot lose culture. Except for you Americans. Nah, just kidding.

Back to the matter at hand: As I said culture is inherent in a variety of little things, places, items of food, etc. They all go hand in hand, weave one big tapestry of... well... culture. And everybody has their part of it, and perceives it differently.

"Cherry-picking" as you put it, koiyuki, is just a part of culture as some people perceive it today. It's a post-modern approach to life and creativity. Personally, I like this approach quite a lot. It's like standing at a sushi bar. Pick what you like, leave what you don't. The platter looks different for everybody. And no form of culture (sushi) ever dies out.
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Re: Growing Connections, Dying Culture
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2007, 12:37:17 AM »

after finding out that of languages are vanishing by the hundreds as people conform to a more World-friendly language is a little depressing and "frightening" maybe, since something as huge as a language disappearing doesn't make one feel so secure on what they grew up with.

but the people that come after us won't feel without an identity if they don't have the culture and language we have now. they would have compensated with something else. i think wormwood put it pretty well:

Quote from: Wormwood on October 30, 2007, 02:01:54 PM
I'll have my language for my lifetime, the ones that come after me can make their own damn decisions.

i do advocate trying to record dying cultures and languages, as many researchers have been doing in the "time of crisis". no use being a modern society if we're going to be as bad record keepers as our ancient forefathers.
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