The Electronic Colonialism Theory (ECT) postulates that the dissemination of Western values through mass media from core nations like the United States can influence the mind-set of more agrarian developing (peripheral) countries. Powerful multinational companies like Disney, Apple, Microsoft, the Internet, Google, etc. (McPhail, 16-17) can influence the values, habits, and purchasing patterns of these peripheral nations. This influence, in turn, could cause indigenous customs, religious views, and traditions to be forgotten and replaced by a more Western outlook that these companies portray in mass media. I tend to agree with the ECT as the scope of Internet continues to expand exponentially throughout the globe and it is dominated by Western language, culture, and ideology.
The ECT has a positive impact on peripheral nations by raising awareness of important issues that affect individuals on a global scale. The Internet spreads American values of literacy, creativity, and a more broadened awareness of social issues. For instance, the spreading of ideals like women’s rights to places like Ethiopia, Somalia, and Pakistan to bring awareness of and potentially prevent practices like the travesty of female genital mutilation. With companies expanding into peripheral nations there is an influx of money, resources, and jobs. This can provide much needed relief to impoverished nations like those in Africa.
Also, with exposure to Internet the and Western knowledge many deleterious myths and superstitions are debunked. Although ECT can improve the lives of individuals in peripheral nations, it can also be a proverbial double-edged sword.The exportation of American ideology through mass media can bring decidedly negative consequences to peripheral nations. With the ever-increasing exportation of big budget Hollywood films in which Americans are portrayed as all powerful global leaders and archetypical heroes. These films vilify countries like Iran, North Korea, Russia, etc.
which can instill fear and make it seem as if the United States is a rogue nation that is all-powerful. Hollywood can literally rewrite history in the minds of impressionable youth. Exposure to commercials and media programming create a longing for bigger homes, swanky cars, and other luxury items that are far beyond the reach of poorer nations. Ironically, the iconic brands of American goods that are advertised are often produced by the peripheral nations that can’t afford to purchase them. Also, with the spread of fast food giants like McDonald’s to the periphery, so too comes the American issues poor food choices. The pervasive barrage of American ridiculous viral videos, product reviews, and Celebrity gossip consumes the viewing habits on a global scale. American culture then becomes a skewed mirror which can cause inferiority and self-loathing.
When different cultures view the same social media posts they interpret it through their own cultural lens which could cause unforeseen effects on the psyches of peripheral nation’s youth. Americans could be exporting more than just their products, they could be sharing their pervasive depression, anxiety, and poor health habits.