A participatory culture is impactful for communicators of all ages. It gives opportunities for innovative expression of ideas, art, beliefs, culture and more. Society can interact in the marketplace of ideas more than ever before. Young people are expressing themselves in the culture with various social media channels, developing a language and humor of their own with memes, gifs, hashtags and idiosyncratic jokes. As the media has moved away from its one-way distribution channel to a participative structure, three major changes have occurred: globalization, interculturalism and collaboration.
Communication technology and the participatory culture add new possibilities for cyberdemocracy on a global scale. Despite language and culture barriers, globalization and international communication is easier than ever before. We can use media to exchange ideas more freely in a mutually beneficial way. To succeed in global communication, one must understand aspects of the culture, which inspires listening, interacting and learning. A digital divide between those that have access to technology and those that do not is inhibiting the participatory culture and globalization of technology (2017). Many are working to overcome the divide so more cultures can add to a richer, more diverse participatory culture.
Coupled with globalization is interculturalism, which challenges the human desire to gravitate toward people most like ourselves. It helps people become more confident in interactions with different ethnic groups by teaching them to consider the ways they relate rather than being threatened by what differences may arise between them (Cantle, 2016). The media gives diverse cultures a stronger voice. Communication breeds understanding, and understanding builds compassion and relationships. Interculturalism takes multiculturalism a step farther, as multiculturalism is simply living in an area with mixed ethnic groups and cultures; interculturalism seeks to create a society that does not force, but encourages people from a different background to intermingle, knowing even people so different from us have something valuable to offer (Schriefer & Schriefer, 2016). Participatory culture and media convergence lay the foundation for an intercultural society.
As the media moves away from one-way distribution of communication, collaboration becomes a stronger resource. More journalists are relying heavily on their audiences to create and curate the content (Lavrusik, 2009). There are some ideas that are bigger than a single person. So many talented people are able to use the media to connect with the right people and achieve their goals, whether political, personal or business.
Media convergence and the growing participatory culture are also affecting the Christian mission. Globalization gives us an opportunity to reach more people with the gospel, although many think it is a proliferation of non-Christian ideas (Thomas, 2015). Similarly, interculturalism helps us understand the cultures to which we ought to interact with, pray for, sympathize with, share good news and exemplify the love of Christ. Interculturalism helps us relate to people who are different so we can engage in a mutually beneficial dialogue. Christians should always collaborate in their church home among brothers and sisters in Christ, building knowledge, sharing ideas and taking care of one another. They should also collaborate with caution in our postmodern culture, not to lead to distortion of Scripture or an obligation of toleration to false claims of truth. The possibilities of the participatory culture are immeasurable.
Sources: About Interculturalism, Cantle, T. (2016); Digital Divide (2017, September 11); 7 Ways News Media are Becoming More Collaborative, Lavrusik, V. (2009, December 29); What’s the difference between multicultural, intercultural, and cross-cultural communication? Schriefer, P., & Schriefer, A. P. (2016, April 20); A Christian Perspective on Globalisation – Banner of Truth, Thomas, G. (2015, August 18)