About 20 years ago, when online discussion forums were relatively new, a forum for discussing Christian mission puiblished guidelines for participants, which included the following tip:
Write with an international audience in mind. Don’t assume the reader is necessarily familiar with your culture, especially popular culture (eg food products, TV shows & personalities), current events, and politics. This doesn’t mean you can’t refer to these or discuss them as appropriate, but you may need to explain them as you go.
Perhaps even now such tips could be useful.
Recently an Orthodox Christian poster on Facebook posted the following picture:
In view of who the poster was, I took it for a picture of a group of Orthodox monks, dressed for gardening.
The one second from the left looks most like a monk, and the next one, in the baseball cap, looks least like one, but could be a novice or a visitor.
I later discovered that they were characters in a TV show that is popular in the US, called Duck Dynasty, about which there has recently been some controversy.
Fortunately, unlike in 1993, we have the web, and search engines, which makes it possible to look up such things and find enough of the backstory to discover what is going on, but in spite of the globalisation of culture, there are still cultural pitfalls, and we still haven’t arrived in the global village that Mashall McLuhan foresaw.
But it still raises questions for me.
Why would a TV show in the US have characters dressed to resemble Orthodox monks?
And what cultural images come to the minds of people in the US when they see real monks, particularly when they have been influenced by TV shows like Duck dynasty?