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From Global Village to Identity Tribes: Context Collapse and the Darkest Timeline

Bastos, M. T. ORCID: 0000-0003-0480-1078 (2021). From Global Village to Identity Tribes: Context Collapse and the Darkest Timeline. Media and Communication, 9(3), pp. 16-24. doi: 10.17645/mac.v9i2.3930


In this article we trace the development of two narratives describing social media that informed much of internet scholarship. One draws from McLuhan’s axiom positing that communication networks would bring forth a ‘global village,’ a deliberate contradiction in terms to foreground the seamless integration of villages into a global community. Social media would shrink the world and reshape it into a village by moving information instantaneously from any location at any time. By leveraging network technology, it would further increase the density of connections within and across social communities, thereby integrating geographic and cultural areas into a village stretching across the globe. The second narrative comprises a set of metaphors equally inspired by geography but emphasizing instead identity and tribalism as opposed to integration and cooperation. Both narratives are spatially inspired and foreground real‐world consequences, either by supporting cooperation or by ripping apart the fabric of society. They nonetheless offer opposing accounts of communication networks: the first is centered on communication and collaboration, and the second highlights polarization and division. The article traces the theoretical and technological developments driving these competing narratives and argues that a digitally enabled global society may in fact reinforce intergroup boundaries and outgroup stereotyping typical of geographically situated communities.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 by the author; licensee Cogitatio (Lisbon, Portugal). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY).
Publisher Keywords: context collapse; disinformation; geography; global village; internet studies; polarization
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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