The globalisation of communication is characterised by instantaneity, interconnectedness, interdependence and trends towards corporate mergers and conglomeration. (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler) It is instantaneous in that it effectively bridges time and space, offering almost instant access to distant information and events.
The effects of the instant, global communication are expressed by Academic Marshal McLuhan in his concept of ‘The Global Village”. McLuhan believed that the world is brought closer together by the globalisation of communication. He theorized that the global village creates a democratic space where everybody’s voices are heard and where information can be shared freely. (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler)
McLuhan’s utopian ‘Global Village’ has not fully eventuated in practice.
There are large portions of the world where the percentage of people connected to the Internet is between 0-20%. These countries include India and various parts of Africa. Countries that lack widespread connectivity are excluded from the ‘global village’ because a non-egalitarian network eliminates the potential for McLuhan’s democratising process where everybody’s voice can be heard to actually occur. Enabling more people to access the Internet may help to democratise the mediasphere and enable everybody’s opinion to be heard but it is not possible until all citizens of the world have reliable access to the network.
One of the large corporations at the centre of global connectivity is Facebook. The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg recently stated (in a Facebook post) that the social media giant currently connects more than 1.15 billion people per month. Zuckerberg then states that the goal of Facebook is to connect another 5 billion people on earth and that Facebook is putting measures in place to deliver internet access to more people by making it more affordable by via making it more efficient to deliver data.
By increasing the number of people who have access to the Internet, Zuckerberg may be helping to realise McLuhans concept of the Global Village, however, this will not occur by people being simply connected to Facebook. This is because Facebook operates under a hierarchical structure which keeps the power purely in the hands of Facebook’s staff rather than through a democratic process of power of the people.
As the number of people online continues to rise the potential for a democratic online ‘Global Village’ may eventuate, but as it stands the internet, and therefore the global village, is not democratic.
O’shaughnessy, M& Stadler, J (2012) . Media and society. Oxford University Press,