Cultural awareness, belonging to a particular cultural community, history development, and other specific issues are to be considered in order to understand the place of a person in a world. Living in modern society, many people remain separated from their native places of living, and they have to live in alien environments. Staying apart from the place of the natural inhabitance, people try to organize their new life in specific conditions. It is natural that many people start to assimilate with the new environment, however, they do all possible to remain faithful to their cultures. There are a lot of various factors that shape the environment people live into, however, there are also many environmental factors which shape people, their behavior, and attitude to life. The influence is conducted by means of interchange and assimilation, therefore, the ways show people shape the environment and how the environment shape people should be considered simultaneously.
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Winston Churchill once said, “First we shape our environment, and then our environment shapes us” and modern scholars modified and developed this phrase, having stated that “if we can reshape global warming and local poverty, we can reshape culturally embedded happiness” (Selin, & Davey, 2012, p. 409). The problem of the environment change and the attitude of people to their own culture remains one of the most curious and urgent problems of modern time. We live in a period of globalization and internationalization. More and more people cannot even identify their cultural belonging due to the different places they were born into, another place they were brought up in, the absolutely different country they studied into, and many particular places where they have to work now. Therefore, having no personal cultures, having no native environment these people are shaped by the environment they live into. Then, these people live in the society and they influence this society, therefore, it is possible to say that such people shape the environment. Thus, they appear in the situation that having no specific culture they possess the peculiarities of different cultures (the environments they lived into) and they shape the surrounding environment affecting it by various features they possess. This adds to the globalization of the modern society and assimilation of various cultures.
Media plays an important role in the way our environment is shaped (Haxell, 2009). Mass media is the means of information sharing. People perceive and consume this information, some issues are taken for granted, others are checked, however, human mind is based on the data they get. The information people receive from their vision of the surrounding world changes human attitude to different things and affects their behavior. Thus, mass media shapes the environment people live into. However, the information spread via mass media is created by people. People have the power to affect others. Thus, mass media is the means for shaping the environment. This issue is extremely important especially in the modern conditions of globalization. Information plays an important role and the way it works should be considered attentively. There is no another most powerful and effective means for shaping environment as mass media and the information it presents. No matter where the data is shared, a correct presentation of the necessary facts may help create necessary environment.
The first environment where people get the basic means of their behavior is their home (Hunter, 2005). Then, children perceive the environment at the streets and leave their imprint. Then, school, University and the place of a job follow. All these environments affect a person and a person affects them. Looking at this situation from the side helps support the statement that behavior and principles we live with shape our environment and then this environment we live into, affected by others, shapes us. Logan (2007) also supports the idea that we create the environments where human thought and reasons interact with “material brains, material bodies and complex cultural and technological environments” (p. 225), however, this environment then creates us.
Trying to understand this connection between the way how environment shapes us and how we shape the environment, it is essential to follow the process of influences. People are affected by the surrounding their live or work into. It is impossible to remain unaffected as being sociable beings people interact with others, they have to live according to particular rules, therefore, they are affected by the surrounding world. However, this surrounding world is created by people. The way people are to behave at the workplace, ethical norms people have to live in accordance with and other similar issues are created by people. Therefore, environment shapes people and people shape the environment in a close and interchangeable manner. Hamid (2009) writes that a person is controlled by the environment, however, at the same time, an environment is wholly made by a person; “when we change our physical or social environment “intentionally”… we play two roles: one as a controller, as the designer of a controlling culture, and another as the controlled, as the product of a culture…” (p. 74).
Trying to consider the issue under consideration applying to my personal example, I would like to describe the story of my life. My ancestors are from Pakistan. For many generations my ancestors lived, studies and worked in that country. They had rooted customs and traditions created by that country. Pakistan is the place where my history starts from. Even though I do not live in this country and I have never been there, it affected my behavior through my grandparents who lived there and brought my parents up who brought me up. Pakistan is the place I have never been, however, the customs of this place flow in my veins. As I have already mentioned, my grandparents lived in Pakistan and then they had to move to India at the time of 1947 partition. After their arrival into another country, my grandparents were refugees for a while until they were allotted land to build the house my parents were brought up into. The community where my grandparents lived supported Pakistanis traditions, however, the Indian population with their cultures and traditions also affected them. Thus, my grandparents assimilated. Building their houses they tried to follow the cultural peculiarities of Pakistan, however, Indian traditional also affected them.
I was born in India in Hindu family. This fact is really important for me as I am proud of the place I was born into, of the culture I was brought up into and of the country which gave me everything I can. Being affected by this place I was also influenced by the descriptions of my grandparents who told me about Pakistan. Living in India I was impacted by this place and I also influenced it trying to change my environment, to make it better. Now I live in the USA. I came here in 2007 with my husband. I feel the influence the environment sets upon me, however, I also influence those people who communicate with me closely, I impact the surrounding world by introducing it with the basics of my culture. I want more people knew something about the place I am from, that is why I try to speak more about the place I was born into.
Considering my situation from the side of the environmental shape and the way how it affects me, I want to say that the culture of the USA is absolutely different from the Indian one. Globalization and information technologies have entered all the countries, however, it is essential to remember that the cultural peculiarities of different countries are various. People in the USA are different and I see that the way I communicate with people has changed. I assimilated to Americans. At the same time, I also see that those people who communicate with my family know more about India and Hindu culture. This is the way how I impact the environment and how the environment affects me. Communication is the main means for shaping environment.
My children were born in India, however, I see that their assimilation goes faster. Each day they become more and more shaped by the environment they live into. Children are more subjected to influence, it is easier to affect them. Having appeared in the alien environment, children try to become look like others to avoid misunderstanding. Thus, children who have appeared in strange environment do not have many opportunities to shape it, however, the environment changes them. Dwelling upon the way how environment shapes children, much attention should be paid to the community they stay into and to the family. The formation of a personality takes place in childhood. The change of the environment may negatively affect children, therefore, it is important to consider the way how alien environment shapes them. Therefore, it may be stated that environment shapes children in a greater way in comparison how children shape their environment.
Therefore, it should be stated that communication is one of the means of the environment shape. Either people affect the surrounding world or the surrounding world affects people, communication is important. Being one of the most effective ways of influencing people, communication is the way people interact. There are different means of communication and even if people have some speech disabilities, the information sharing is conducted on the basis of other issues. Thus, being sociable beings, one of the main ways how people shape environment and how this environment shapes people remains communication. Mass media is another way of shaping environment. Being available for a great number of people and for different layers of population, mass media is able to influence people, their thoughts, considerations, ideas and even behavior. This is the way how mass media as an environment shapes people. At the same time, being created by people, mass media is shaped by them.
Hamid, T. K. A. (2009). Thinking in Circles about Obesity: Applying Systems Thinking to Weight Management. New York: Springer.
Haxell, A. (2009). In what ways do the media we shape, shape us in return? Proceedings ascilite Auckland. Web.
Hunter, W. (2005). How genetics and environment shape us: the destined body. New York: Mason Crest Publishers.
Logan, R. K. (2007). The Extended Mind: The Emergence of Language, the Human Mind, and Culture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
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Selin, H. & Davey, G. (2012). Happiness across Cultures: Views of Happiness and Quality of Life in Non-Western Cultures. New York: Springer.