Electronic Media Communication and its effect on Caribbean people

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For many years, the Caribbean relied on traditional media (newspapers, magazines, and electronic technology in the form of radio and television) to inform, educate and entertain their audiences.  Most of the broadcasting was of domestic and regional content.  There were very few radio and television stations which meant the flow of information was determined and controlled by a select group of persons.

As technology advanced, communication among Caribbean neighbours was broadened and several regional broadcasting institutions were created.  Those of us who are over 40 would recall regional news and entertainment from the stations of the Caribbean News Agency (CANA) and the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU).

CMCHowever, around the early 1990s and beyond, accessible through the World Wide Web, Computer Mediated Communication (any form of conversation or communication that uses an electronic medium for example, e-mails, social networking sites, audio and video devices), and the creation of user friendly Information Communication Technologies (ITC’s) such as tablets and smartphones) have enable us to have any type of information at our finger tips.  As a consequence, EMCs have forever changed our lives.  We have developed new ways of thinking, we interact differently, our behaviours have been modified and we have established new expectations of those in authority.

Firstly, digital or Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) has forced traditional media and businesses to embrace these technologies.  To remain relevant, many of them have signed on to social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp as they recognized the heavy use of these networks among individuals as well as the transformation that they created in our lives.  For example, how many of us go to the air or seaport to bid our relatives good bye?  We can still have access to them via the technology.  How many of us make an overseas call and try to get every detail in a five minute call?

Institutions in the service sectors are using devices to make payments and point of sales and online transactions as well as to facilitate loan applications.  This could not have been possible without CMC.

Additionally, the average person has access to current information and communication in real time.  Live videos, for example, enable us to have firsthand accounts of information and developments in every aspect of our lives.  We no longer have to depend on myopic accounts, unless we choose to, of developments domestically, regionally and internationally.   In addition, social media have set the agenda of matters of interest as often times persons have access to information before traditional media.  Individuals can speak, comment or advocate on matters of interest.  In so doing they can advocate for certain responses, actions and decisions by persons in authority.

More importantly, technology has enabled us to reduce the cost of information and communication.    For instance, persons can correct some of the miscommunication that can occur from asynchronous channels. Additionally, the use of video, allows us to address any misinformation as we are able to read languages, build relationships and or market our good and services.

EMCs have also added an intimate dimension.  We can have access to several leisured activities via several networks: sports, music, cuisine, religion.  It is just a fingertip away.  In fact, how many of us can go a day without our smart devises?  In a nutshell, the Internet, ITCs and EMCs have given each individual and business the autonomy to communicate when, how or if they choose to.

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