Is Europe America’s Online Colony? American Influence on the Web

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Uncle-Sam-Europe

by Mars Dorian, {grow} Contributing Columnist

I live in a popular European town I like to call “Hipster-hell” — formerly known as Berlin, the capital of Germany. It’s a startup breeding ground that attracts poor and idealistic young entrepreneurs from around Europe, creating over-hyped apps that many of you probably never use, or have never even heard of.

People here like to say how cool, European, and art-and-tech-oriented the German city is, but over the years, I have realized how America’s online supremacy is turning Berlin into its cultural colony.

Here’s where I’m coming from:

I go to many tech and online entrepreneurship-related parties in Berlin, and often realize that German is the minority language nowadays. In fact, I can’t recall a single party in the last decade where I even spoke German at all. It’s English or you’re out.

A lot of “patriotic” Europeans may disagree with th following prediction, but here it is:

In the future, (American) English will be the common national language in most major European cities, while national languages will morph into a local dialect, reserved for family and close friends.

In Berlin, this almost seems to be the case already.

I don’t mind. I love English, especially the American version. I use it every day when I converse with my clients, who (surprise, surprise) are often from the United States. My entire online business, which I created in Berlin, is 100% dependent upon the US.

Example?

I’m writing this article on an American computer using American software, in proper American English that I learned from American grammar books, bought from an American online retailer, sent via an American delivery service. If it wasn’t for Internet connections to the States, I’d be homeless now.

But it’s even deeper than that.

TV culture is becoming more and more irrelevant to today’s youth. The Internet is their biggest influence, together with the many apps and YouTube subscriptions that dominate every adolescent’s phone. Digital content is the medium of information and entertainment, and it comes almost exclusively from the States. We watch Better Call Saul on the German Netflix, play Candy Crush and use the iPhone app store to buy more.

So what about the future?

When I want to know about innovation in the Internet or social media, I just look at what popular US tech and marketing blogs such as *cough* {grow} *cough*  are doing and then add 2-4 years for it to happen in the EU. It’s as if we’re living in a time bubble in old Europe where American innovations arrive on a 2-4 year delay.

So what about European innovation?

What about Germany, the biggest economy in the EU? Well, pretty much everything social media and Internet-related we copy from the States. For example:

  • Online retail giants that offer and ship pretty much anything in the most comfortable way possible? Check.
  • Girls and boys creating personality-based YouTube channels and making a full-time living from ad revenue? Check.
  • Bloggers making a full-time living through e-products and coaching? Check.

From America, with love.

The model I see in most startups and online businesses works like this: copy successful ideas and companies from the US and localize them.

That’s why we have a German-version of Amazon, LinkedIn, Facebook etc. instead of coming up with these companies in the first place. Most of the German copycat corps sooner or later fail against their American counterparts or get bought. Not a single of the hundreds of German online retailers can remotely compete with the mighty Amazon.

And so … 

If American online culture were to fight European culture, you could throw in the towel, because Europe would be in for a beating. The web in the Western World is almost exclusively American. Even “neutral” HTML code, on which the web is based, only works with the American English dialect, not the British.

In the future, as American influence over the online world increases even more, I predict that most Western European countries will become cultural US colonies with mere European flavor. If America is McDonald’s, Europe will just be french fries on the menu.

Mars Dorian draws funky illustrations and pens sci-fi thrillers for the Internet Generation. His latest novel is a mix between Star Wars and Silicon Valley called Attack Planet
which you  can check out on Amazon for just $ 2.99! Consider his artwork for your next project:  http://www.marsdorian.com

Original illustration by the author.

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