American pop culture influences entire world
Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
America surely has to be the hottest brand in the world. You may love it or critique it but there is a little bit of America is everyone’s life — at least in the form of an opinion on it.
Growing up in India, you are introduced to America very early. The British, after ruling India for over two centuries, had left behind a powerful tool in the hands of Indians: the English language.
Moreover, a westernized world view was drilled into our collective conscience. By the turn of the 21st century, India had the second largest number speakers of the English language in the world. Surely, we would easily notice the largest English speaking country on earth: The U.S.
So, I grew up in India reading Archie comics and Mark Twain with as much zest as if I was reading stories from the classical Indian epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. Time Warner’s Cartoon Network is nothing less than a staple in all Indian homes with young children and access to cable television.. Moreover, in the streets of Bombay, I could buy old editions of Reader’s Digest or an antique collection of the Batman series with ease.
These avenues certainly had been my first exposure to life in America and its people. America represented itself to my generation in a variety of ways: from Hollywood to Superman to space travel.
This obviously meant that when I traveled as an adult to the U.S., many years after I first discovered the thrilling companionship of Archie and his friends, I had a variety of nostalgic, albeit vicarious, visualizations about the American life and pop culture.
But upon arriving here, I discovered another face of America that I could not have conceived from afar: the power of the Internet. Although the Internet is now making headway now into the most rural of places in the world, it has sunk meticulously deep into the fabric of American lifestyle.
From inevitable GPS systems to online streaming of live games, the Internet, I realized, is a very real face of the American way of life. It comes as no surprise that when Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern shores recently, amongst other more tragic consequences, it cut off people from the Internet — suddenly causing many to realize how much they relied on technology and information to get by their daily lives and careers.
The Internet definitely represents some of the most important characteristics of our time: connectivity, convenience and speed. We can make almost anything arrive at our doorstep with the click of a button. More and more government red tape is becoming paperless. More tickets are being booked online, and this makes such processes efficient and reliable. But this is also the tacit catch in it.
So when I went to one of the biggest book stores in Dallas anticipating to buy my favorite American comics, they apologized and looked at me surprised. But why would I want to buy the books anyway, they said, it is available online after all. If not, they gleefully told me, I could buy the digital version of it.
We are all so constantly plugged in and online now that we hardy realize what we might be missing. Yes, the convenience and efficiency is what will make mankind march into the future. Yet somehow, the raw pleasure of lying in a hammock under a warm summer sun reading a collectible edition of Batman or the antics of Tom Sawyer is, quite literally, fast vaporizing into the World Wide Web.
Sunil is a graduate student in the Lyle school of engineering.