On Social Media and Cultural Change Abroad

Recently, in GOOD magazine, the article “In Conservative Cultures, Social Media Opens the Door to Condoms” discusses how social media and internet platforms are helping youth in comparatively more conservative cultures to access information and engage in discussions about sex, family planning, and other ‘sensitive’ topics. In Ethiopia, Mozambique, Indonesia, and more, social media is seen to be playing a part in cultural changes in this area.

The author, Christopher Purdy, who works with a nonprofit that “uses commercial techniques to deliver health products”, sells a lot of condoms, among other things I suppose. He writes that before the advent of social media and internet platforms,  TV and radio ads would need to focus on HIV prevention, safe sex, and condom quality. Today, however, the youth are on Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and their presence dominates there. This has given Purdy and others the green light for more direct and “edgy” messaging in these online communities. While he doesn’t go as far to say that social media is responsible for increased sales, the author is confident that social media has helped market expansion and brand positioning.

I find this interesting on a few levels. One, social media may be helping to fight disease and control population. Good. Two, social media is aiding influences to fundamental cultural norms abroad. Interesting. And three, social media can be a force for slow but sustainable progress. Yes, Twitter helped overthrow governments, but I am equally interested in how social media can help people everywhere overcome smaller obstacles faster and move their communities forward for good. In my opinion, this is an example of that.

What do you think? Any critics?

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One thought on “On Social Media and Cultural Change Abroad

  1. I recently read an article on CNN that was in regards to children and social media–was social media changing the way that kids think. It outlined some interesting numbers regarding the age of individuals and their use of social media. For example, 7.5 million kids under the age of 13 have a Facebook account.

    While I am not against the use of social media to promote “adult” content such as sexual health, population control, etc whose responsibility is it to make sure that kids, which the content is not appropriate for, don’t have access to it? Should it be the parents or should there be some sort of precaution to prevent kids from accessing this type of information?

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