The World’s Top Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace have made the world seem like a small place after all. But even on the Internet, persistent language barriers and cultural differences mean that the planet may not be quite as interconnected as you think.
Coming to Costa Rica, I found out first-hand how parochial the Anglosphere really is. It’s easy to over-estimate the global reach of English when you’re immersed in it, but one must remember that the majority of the world doesn’t speak the language of Shakespeare. The Anglosphere might seem all-encompassing in its totality, but all you have to do is change your linguistic environment and suddenly people are talking about celebrities you’ve never heard of and singing along to classic songs you never knew existed.
As offline, so also online. I’m only now dipping my toe into the Spanish Internet and it’s rather fascinating to discover the differences Spanish Internet talk has from standard written Spanish (for instance, hardly anyone uses the upside-down symbol things like ¿).
This article from Foreign Policy is a nice round-up of the state of social networking sites in different language zones of the world. I hadn’t known that Orkut was big in India or that its membership had plateaud, and neither did I know that Facebook was also big in the Arab countries, nor that Skyrock even existed. And finally I found out who’s been using Hi5. Anyway, do read the article, it’s only 2 pages long and is a good corrective to English-language ghettoism online.