The Influence of English Mass Culture on Estonia — страница 2

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many American ones, find themselves struggling to pay off their credit card debt, a modern convenience which helps people buy anything, even the things they cannot really afford. Our food and restaurant activity is one area that has been influenced a lot by American-style fast food restaurants. Years ago, America’s foods began to affect the rest of the world – not only raw staples such as wheat and corn, but with a new American cuisine that spread worldwide. American emphasis on convenience and rapid consumption is best represented in fast foods such as hamburgers, french fries, and soft drinks, which virtually every American has eaten. By the 1960s and 1970s, fast foods became one of America's strongest exports as franchises for McDonald’s and Burger King

spread throughout Europe and other parts of the world, including Estonia. Traditional meals cooked at home and consumed at a leisurely pace – common in the rest of the world, and once common in the United States – gave way to quick lunches and dinners eaten on the run as other countries mimicked American cultural patterns. This is strange in my country with traditional food, but it is necessary in a modern society characterized by time binds. Many of us believe, however, that our traditional food has to be saved from such influences. Now there is a tendency to open fast food places, but with local and regional products so that our traditions are not lost. After the initial excitement of trying other kinds of foods, we now think that Estonian products are healthier and

should be served even in a frugal lunch. Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that McDonald's is less successful in Estonia than it is in other countries; the culture of the Estonian people is oriented to eating at home with the exception of the four or five big cities in the country. Another aspect of strong impact of English mass culture on Estonia is the omnipresent computer. I cannot imagine my life without a computer and the Internet. The personal computer has already become one of the most ubiquitous appliances in today’s modern world. The Internet has led directly to the creation of many Estonian companies. In Estonia, as in all countries, English mass culture guides the way we create documents, surf the Web, send e-mail, and exchange information in a multitude of

different ways. Most PCs are usually loaded with the same basic kinds of American software: an Internet browser, an e-mail client, and at least some sort of productivity software, most likely a word processor. This means that thousands of Estonians, like millions of people all over the world, whether at home, the office, Internet cafes, or other venues, are constantly working, communicating, or entertaining themselves through software, while at the same time they slowly internalize the thought processes, priorities, and values embedded in the applications they use. As computer and software usage grows among cultures worldwide, it will become increasingly important to understand how software can act as a carrier of culture, and what effect, if any, this can have on other cultures.

Software design is deeply influenced by American culture. Since huge amounts of software language, applications, and associated hardware were initially created in the United States, I believe that American cultural values are reflected in the design and functionalities of such applications. I constantly use ‘Microsoft Office’, which I find very practical. I think that one of the most widely distributed software applications in the world – Microsoft Office suite – reflects. I assume that the potential impact of software to influence cultural traits and values may be greater than that of the transient trends of popular culture. In Estonia, we live between two poles of anxiety. One is in the open: the fear of Russia and of things we know, such as hunger,

bombs, crime and violence, mass deportation, Chechnya, and concentration camps. It is a publicly accepted, undeniable fear. During the Soviet regime, cultural policies were geared for Russification. Their real aim was to destroy the basis of Estonian national identity and Estonian culture. Resistance was most pronounced in cultural life. A distancing from the stable patterns of post-totalitarianism began in Estonia’s cultural life and policies in 1988, when representatives of the cultural field voiced their views for the first time in public against the environmental and nationality problems created by Soviet rule. To counteract influences from the East, there was a renewed interest in Western culture and information: popular radio stations like Radio Free Europe, Voice of