Many of the social media platforms I use were created by Americans. And I am not American. Although coming from the Bahamas, I can relate to Americans in many ways, I still feel the cultural friction. There are still some very big cultural differences between my cultural background and the American culture. It is interesting how I sometimes feel these differences on social media.
The Reason Behind The Differences In Social Media
This is why I appreciated reading an article by Gaurav Mishra on The Blog of the GU-ISD Yahoo! Fellow – International Values and Communications Technologies
To begin with Gaurav shows the cultural differences between the BRIC countries using Geert Hofstede”s cultural dimensions scales.
Have a look at the original article for the explanations of the 5 cultural dimensions to fully understand these cultural differences.
Gaurav also raises some very interesting questions:
What if the social web subjugated individual profiles and activity streams (high individualism) to group affiliations (high collectivism)?
What if the social web parsed and displayed relationships between two users based on their status relative to each other (high power distance) instead of treating everyone as a “friend” (low power distance)?
What if the primary relationship on the social web was “becoming a fan” (long term orientation) instead of “becoming a friend” (short terms orientation)?
What if the complex relationships between users automatically changed over time and across context (low uncertainty avoidance) instead of staying the same until it is proactively changed (high uncertainty avoidance)?
After thinking about these questions, it is easier to grasp just how much of the American culture influences the social media platforms I use simply because I speak English.
Social Friction And Cultural Differences
When you participate in social media from other countries you notice little areas of friction. Things sometimes do not feel quite right. Or you feel offended, or have some other negative reaction. If you are participating in social media from a different culture than your own, these reactions may be due to cultural differences.
Sometimes it seems to me that social media magnifies these cultural differences. Our communication is more personal. It is closer. And those cultural differences are closer to us too. It is easy to react before adjusting our own cultural filters.
The data and questions Gaurav outlined points us in the direction of understanding why these cultural differences are there. This makes it easier to remember and adapt our own communication.
Example Of Cross-Cultural Differences In Social Media
So, what about a real example?
I read another very interesting article this week.
ThoughtFarmer wrote about their experience with a cross-cultural intranet. They highlight several areas where cultural differences interfered with effective communication:
- Language subtleties
- Internet performance
- Faces and avatars
Please take the time to read the article even if you do not go on any international social media platforms.
Our Social Media Preferences Based On Culture
Here are some more thoughts based on my own personal reactions to foreign cultures…
Even though I live in France, speak French like a native and feel fully integrated, I never like my experience of the French blogosphere. There is just too much aggressiveness there for my taste. A very large portion there seems to want to show their own “cultural” superiority at the expense of everyone else. Too many people take themselves too seriously.
Of course, there are some very nice French bloggers. But these people are often so nice, they seem to have no personality. And I end up only noticing the aggressive crowd. It is simply “not nice” to me. Not “social”. And not a place where I want to spend my free time. I would rather hang out with the French in their cafés.
But my reaction is biased. It are due to my own particular cultural background. I know that. And yet each time I put my nose into the French blogosphere I have the same reaction and quickly jump back out. This is because I never go there with my professional hat on. The “real me” hits this foreign culture when I am in a mindset that does not want to adapt and be flexible. This is something that rarely happens to me because of the work I do and where I live.
Social media is dozens of different platforms with different types of environments and atmospheres. Now add in the cultural differences in the social media platforms from different countries.
- Some social media platforms are more appealing than others.
- And others just do not feel right.
- For some, I have to be in a particular mindset or context to appreciate them.
- And others always seem difficult to feel at ease in.
This is how I notice my cultural preferences for different social media platforms. What about you?
- Do you have an experience with cultural differences in social media?
- Have you ever felt friction on social media that was due to cultural differences?
- Do you use foreign social media platforms?
More on Cross-Cultural Social Media
- How to Connect Globally With Social Media
- Choice Of Social Media For International Markets
- The Cultural Divide In The Social Media Evolution
- Cultural Differences In Social Media Marketing
- 7 Cross-Cultural Skills For Businesses To Master Social Media
- Cross-Cultural Blunder On Latest Facebook Change
- Social Media Marketing Across Cultures
- Guerrilla Marketing With Social Media To Enter New International Markets
- Understanding Social Media For Stronger International Web Marketing
- Ethnic Origins On Social Media
Photos from Shutterstock.
Filed under: cross cultural social media
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