Pop Culture and Social Life

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Popular culture is the accumulation of cultural products such as music, art, literature, fashion, dance, film, cyber culture, television and radio that are consumed the majority of a society’s population. Popular culture has mass accessibility and appeal. ~ By Ashley Crossman (Sociology expert)

 

After the end of World War II, innovations in mass media led to significant cultural and social changes. Scholars trace the origins of the rise of popular culture to the creation of the middle class, generated by the Industrial Revolution. The meaning of popular culture then began to merge with that of mass culture, consumer culture, image culture, media culture and culture for mass consumption.

Popular culture is the entirety of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are preferred by an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the late 20th and early 21st century. Heavily influenced by mass media, this collection of ideas permeates the everyday life of society.

Popular culture is a thing that almost always depends on mass production for mass consumption because we rely on mass media to get our information and shape our interests. John Storey describes mass or popular culture as “a hopelessly commercial culture [that is] mass-produced for mass consumption [by] a mass of non-discriminating consumers.”  He further states that popular culture is “formulaic [and] manipulative[.]” This is not unlike how he views the process of advertising.  A product or brand has to be “sold” to an audience before it can be entrenched in mass or popular culture, where it finds a place through constant exposure to the eyes of society.

Britney Spears is a good example of this definition; her road to stardom and place in popular culture were based on marketing strategies that focused on building her look along with her fan base. As a result, she generated millions of fans, her songs were played frequently on numerous radio stations, and she graduated to sold-out concerts and garnered the public’s fascination through her meltdown. There are many celebrities like her who rose to stardom in this manner.

Popular culture is EVERYWHERE. You know it when you’re on the Internet, listen to music, watch television, gaming or go to a movie, concert or stage show. You know most of the popular artists, the actors and actresses, sports personalities and the games they play, DJs, TV actors and Youtubers. Today, anything that generates buzz is deemed a part of pop culture. The by-the-book definition calls pop culture a collection of thoughts, ideas, attitudes, perspectives, images (you name it) preferred by the mainstream population, a common denominator of sorts.

The most common pop culture categories are: entertainment (movies, music, TV), sports, news (referring to people/places in news), politics, fashion/clothing, and technologySlang has also become popular in our culture, as each year seems to have its own slang signature, especially with teens. Terms such as “going viral” are new pop culture – not only the term, but also the viral product itself.

Each one of us has our own pop culture menu. Look at your apps, your bookmarks, your songs playlist, TV shows, and movies… Smartphones today are the center of pop culture.

Social Life can be described as pleasant companionship with friends or associates by being active on social networking sites OR relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society 

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Human beings are social animals, and the tenor of our social life is one of the most important influences on our mental health. Without positive, durable relationships, both our minds and our bodies fall apart. We begin life dependent for survival on the quality of relationship with our primary caregiver, usually our parents. The nature of that relationship typically influences all others in our life. Our survival as a species similarly hinges on our capacity for social living. Most of human history was lived in small groups in which each member was dependent on the others for survival, and evidence suggests this is the condition to which we are best adapted.

Some people think the only way of having a social life is by being active on social media, which is not true. It can be meeting new people of different culture or places, visiting, travelling or discovering new places, discovering new things and gaining new experiences. Being active on social media is a topic that divides opinion – some people think it’s an amazing communication tool but others are worried about the impact it has on people’s lives. From students to journalists, One Direction to the Prime Minister – the majority of the population use social media sites for both work and pleasure.

These days having an active social life or being active on social media can have both positive and negative effects. Positive effects include-

  1. Being aware of current happenings
  2. Being active on social networking can help certain independent businesses to promote their products, page or blog etc.,
  3. Being active can help connect to many people and develop new friendships. It also makes it a lot easier to keep in touch with family and friends, especially if they live far away.
  4. It can give you opportunities to have a life well lived, filled with diverse experiences.
  5. If you’re active on social media, you can express yourself – showing off your favourite song lyrics or posting pictures of your new outfit.

However, to even the playing field, not everyone in the 21st century thinks about the negative effects of having a social life or social networking accounts. Some negative effects can  be-

  1. Being too social can be dangerous because you may speak certain things that may not be suitable for the audience you are interacting with.
  2. Cyberbullying can be a problem as people can take advantage of the fact that there is no one who can effectively stop the bullying when it happens, due to everything being performed behind a screen. The only way for a bully to be stopped is if they are reported and victims may be too intimidated to do it.
  3. Being too active on social media can also be a waste of time as people can visit a site to check on thing and end up spending the whole day ‘behind the screen’, effectively not doing anything productive with their lives.
  4. Addiction is a major problem. People become obsessed with certain sites. Some people are left sleep-deprived as a result of excessive social networking and some people like the idea of phones being kept close by while they sleep.
  5. Social networking or having an active social life can also ruin relationships as people may get jealous if they find out people close to them are keeping contact with those with questionable character.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that it’s up to you how you deal with popular culture and social media, whether or not mass opinions influence you.

~ Sanjana Singh

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