Shifting the Frontier

American inventor and engineer Charles Kettering once said, “Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier” (Watson). Similarly, the current American culture patterns itself through concatenation and evolution of the frontier myth. Since its foundation with American settlers pushing west and conquering new lands to its scientific manifestation during the Cold War, the frontier myth obsesses with the hope of opportunity and of reinventing oneself. Today, this myth manifests itself through technology, a frontier interconnecting the world through globalization.

As miners, farmers, and later cattlemen escaped the civilized east to settle new lands, they fostered the individualist belief that they could become something more. Though individual Americans harvested this mindset since the late 1700’s, westward expansion predominated the national thought as well under the perception of a God-blessed inflation of territory (Independence Hall Association). The infatuation with “manifest destiny” proved especially prominent through Frederick Jackson Turner’s evaluation of the frontier as the core of America’s character (PBS). Although the 19th century historian argued that the nation no longer had a continuous frontier, he failed to realize the directional change in expansion that erupted during the Cold War. As President John F. Kennedy stated in 1962, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things…because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills,” therefore reinstating the American perseverance to venture into even interplanetary territories (Wall). The frontier, as follows, continues unfolding from strict westward expansion to one of multidirectional transcendency.

The myth’s promise in the future, alongside the “beacon to the world” theory, reinvents itself in today’s technological era. Social media platforms like Facebook have consumed not only the attention of Americans but have also delivered a means by which international communities can virally experience Americanism. The ability to transcend distance barriers has accordingly enabled the sharing of culture, especially American culture, that plays into the global “salad bowl” (Schwab). On the other hand, while the founding principles of Facebook and such companies endorse the diversity of its billions of users, Western culture dominates within the platform. In a study analyzing the impact of new social media on intercultural adaptation, University of Rhode Island honors student Rebecca Sawyer quotes an interviewee:  “I feel that the boundaries are thinning across cultures…[causing them] to be more similar because of Westernization and modernization” (Sawyer 23). Facebook does not directly Americanize users. Rather, as observed by the interviewee, social media diffuses cultural barriers and hence generates a communal culture that spreads internationally. Through this globalization, Facebook virtually influences westernization through means such as the implicit advocacy of individual liberalism that American ideals fundamentally reply upon (Owolabi 72). Although users create their own images on the platform, each and every user is constantly exposed to the millions of ads, pages, and other materials flooding the site that promote western “success.”

The technological frontier stretches past social media into other previously exotic fields, including medical-technology. Liquid biopsy, for instance, allows for the real time possibility of fast-sequencing DNA machines to simplify identification of affected cells, leading to early cancer detection in over eight million annual victims (Karachaliou et al.). A vital technology in today’s search for cancer curing and prevention, other nations will undoubtedly begin to adopt the latest form of biopsy (Standaert). As such, the U.S. determinately bolsters medical globalization and climbs higher into the scope of previous impossibility. The spread of these new studies paint the nation as a lantern of western opportunity and scientific success and, resultingly, set precedent for other nations to follow suite and revere the American tech frontier.

Secondary schools, moreover, increasingly direct students to computer science—an increasingly required study in both private and public schools nationwide—and other STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields thereby pushing the next generation’s continued exploration of the new frontier (Dickey). At California’s The Harker School, former student Andrew Jin developed an innovative identification process for human genome mutations and discovered over 100 adaptive mutations in DNA sequences by means of computational genomics (Bidwell). Andrew’s pre-university STEM contributions elucidate the potency of technology and the American dedication to the interdisciplinary sphere of medical-technology among other fields. In this case, Andrew also represents the root of America’s globalization and the ease of acquiring information. He essentially serves as the generational epitome of new-technology modernization in the 21st century and maintains the continuous evolution of the current frontier.

Our new frontier, consequently, manifests itself not through the conquering of land but through the enhancement of tech-facilitations that fundamentally lead to quicker innovation and faster results. Our manifest destiny, has undergone an idealistic change: what once referred to as our God-given necessity to spread Americanism throughout our nation’s continent, now expands its limits globally. As Americans, we have originally created an infinite loop of escalating our ideals into exotic territories and thus diffusing former boundaries. How far forward will we charge? The extent only God knows, but the push never forfeits.

References

Bidwell, Allie. “California Senior Wins ‘Global Good’ Prize for Genetic Research.” U.S. NewsU.S. News & World Report L.P., 12 May 2015. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.

Dickey, Megan Rose. “Computer Science Is Now A High School Graduation Requirement In Chicago’s Public School District.” TechCrunch. AOL, 24 Feb. 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016. .

Independence Hall Association. “Manifest Destiny.” U.S. History. Independence Hall Association, 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

Karachaliou, Niki, Clara Mayo-de-las-Casas, Miguel Angel Molina-Vila, and Rafael Rosell. “Real-Time Liquid Biopsies Become a Reality in Cancer Treatment.” Annals of Translational Medicine. AME Publishing Company, Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Dec. 2016. .

Owolabi, Kolawole A. “Globalization, Americanization and Western Imperialism.” Journal of Social Development in Africa 16.2 (2001): 71-92. African E-Journals Project. Web. 8 Dec. 2016. <http://pdfproc.lib.msu.edu/?file=/DMC/African%20Journals/pdfs/social%20development/vol16no2/jsda016002005.pdf>.

PBS. “Frederick Jackson Turner.” PBS. The West Film Project, 2001. Web. 08 Dec. 2016. .

Sawyer, Rebecca, “The Impact of New Social Media on Intercultural Adaptation” (2011). Senior Honors Projects. Paper 242. http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/srhonorsprog/242

Schwab, Anne K., and Tobias Greitemeyer. “The World’s Biggest Salad Bowl: Facebook Connecting Cultures.” ResearchGate. ResearchGate, Nov. 2014. Web. 1 Nov. 2016. .

Standaert, Michael. “Liquid Biopsy.” Technology Review. MIT Technology Review, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 01 Nov. 2016. <https://www.technologyreview.com/s/534991/liquid-biopsy/>.

Wilson, Gerald. “American Myths.” The Success Myth. Duke University, Durham. Sept. 2016. Lecture.

Rosenbloum, Robert A., and Gerald L. Wilson. The Value of Myth. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Wall, Mike. “JFK’s ‘Moon Speech’ Still Resonates 50 Years Later.” Space. Purch, 12 Sept. 2012.

Web. 8 Dec. 2016. <http://www.space.com/17547-jfk-moon-speech-50years-anniversary.html>.

Watson, Richard. Future Minds: How the Digital Age Is Changing Our Minds, Why This Matters, and What We Can Do about It. London: Nicholas Brealey Pub., 2010. Print.

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