Social Media and Globalization: Dependence vs. Keeping Connected

Friendship Across Borders

By Kate Broderick, Global Strategic Communication ’13

The benefit of living in the 21st Century is the immediate access to everything—including 24 hour convenience stores, not to mention the entire database of human knowledge available at our fingertips via smartphone. As a student of Global Strategic Communication, I’ve spent countless hours studying the impact and increasing adaptation and use of social media. Classes like New and Strategic Media and Mass Communication and Society explore the various issues related to the prevalence of social media in the global stage (for example, the average American spends 10 hours and 45 minutes tapped into various media platforms). I’ve studied social media and the impact of globalization—but it wasn’t until I lost my cell phone that I realized how important social media is the globalization process.

Having spent much of the summer travelling on two study abroad programs offered by the Department of Humanities and Communication at Florida Tech, I’ve made many new international friends. I didn’t realize how many until I was adding contact into my new phone: I have three times the amount of international numbers as I do American numbers. With social apps like Line and Facebook, I am able to remain in constant contact with my friends that are a 30+ hour plane flight away.

This weekend I realized how truly dependent I was on social media. This was my weekend: I had a breakfast date over Skype with my friend (who was eating lunch) in England; video chat with my close friend in Taiwan; cried my eyes out at the fate of the Ponds on Dr. Who with my friend in Ireland; and practiced makeup skills with my friend in South Korea, all the while chatting with my friends in Paris, the Netherlands and Taipei via Line.

This is an extreme example, even for me. While it reveals a certain unhealthy dependence on social media and “staying connected,” it also allows a “long-distance” relationship to be only as long-distance as you allow. Social media smashes through geographical barriers and time zones. I think it is unquestionably a transformative agent upon our social structure. As I remain completely enslaved to the social media infrastructure, I wonder what future it will create.

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