By: Megan Atmadjaja
The use of social media becomes a necessity in today’s society. The media is a valuable communication tool as it helps us interact with others locally and globally. It also eases our access to news, entertainment content, catalogs and a lot of other different things. But, do you realize the way that you act, speak, and perceive things is heavily influenced by the media you consume?
The amount of hours you spend watching Netflix shows, scrolling through pictures in Instagram, the many stacks of novels and comics you read when you’re bored, the music you listen to during your highs and lows, the video games you play 24/7 with your friends, and of course, the time you should’ve spend doing homework and instead, used for looking at random TikToks. All these things you and a thousand different people do on a daily basis—the media, celebrities, and stories that you view everyday—creates a huge impact on you and on the society.
Wait, how so?
First of all, let’s clarify a few things about our subject of discussion—Pop Culture.
What is pop culture? Pop culture—short for popular culture—is something generally recognized by members of a society as an object, practice, belief, or, simply put, the trend that is dominant at a given point of time. What makes pop culture pretty dominant in our daily lives? That’s easy—pop culture is easily transmitted over the media that we use every day, and as a teenager growing up in this generation, it’s safe to say that we have been growing up with pop culture nearly all our lives.
Pop culture is very easily transmitted over the media. The internet makes it very easy for us to know the current affairs in different parts of the world. However, pop culture is like an everlasting flow. It’s constantly evolving, depending on what attracts the media at the time. What we see today, might be irrelevant in the next few years. Here’s an example; we are all familiar with the names of a lot of 20th century pop culture icons, such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, or even Michael Jackson, but we don’t know them as much as we know Taylor Swift. Although they may be dominant and revolutionary in their time, they are not now. That’s pop culture, it shifts and changes.
For instance, early 21st century babies must’ve grown up with the iconic Disney and Nickelodeon era. From Hannah Montana, High School Musical, or even victorious, and it’s safe to say that we enjoy a lot of it. We were also having the time of our lives as we came back from school, and our parents gave us an hour on Gameboys. Nevertheless, as we move along the timeline, we see how technology starts to evolve rapidly. We were exposed to the internet and its widespread use from different digital platforms, thus, kids nowadays grow up playing more online games such as Minecraft and Roblox compared to the earlier 2000’s kids whose game-life revolved around offline games. Not only them, we are also enjoying the easy access to YouTube and other platforms for entertainment. Music became more widespread as we discovered hundreds of different genres. Movies became a very major item for pop culture too, as we are introduced to our favorite characters, ranging from Iron Man, Superman, Harry Potter, and many more. From the very fast-paced media, we also discover a lot of public figures that we look up to—for example, Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, and Kim Kardashian – these are the people we see from afar and only through the media, but we feel like we know everything about them. Power of the internet, am I right?
But does this have anything to do with the things we do?
Apparently, it does. We grew up in a very fast-paced generation with so many choices, it feels like the internet revolves around us. We use social media daily, and every single thing we watch, listen to, and view on the net influences the way we think and act.
Here’s a basic example from something I experienced myself: I was obsessed with Harry Potter, and without putting too much thought in it, I started to become sort of a risk taker (like, who knew someone super quiet like me would deliver a piece of my writing to a super cool youth platform anyway). Although it had its positive impacts, I somehow developed a few negative traits too. By middle school, I kinda became a hard-headed child (I eventually got out of the habit though, it’s fine!) But from this, we can easily see how heavily the media impacts our life.
The TV shows we watch, the books we read, and the celebrities we see in the media daily also influences the way we act and think, whether we like it or not. Teenagers and kids nowadays are exposed to more diverse cultures globally. They look up to western, K-Pop, and various public figures from around the world. Idolizing these figures slowly influences us, and we then start to act and think like them. This constant flow of culture and media intake can shift our personal character to be more like our so-called idols. And, let’s say, if this happens to not only one person but a large community, some societal shifts are bound to happen.
Other than idolizing public figures, societal shifts in perception and viewpoint is easily seen throughout one of the most major and predominant things in pop culture—trends. What is it about these trends? They come and go but once they are dominant, they be makin’ everyone out and about doing the same (and sometimes insane) things. Let’s name it, the ice bucket challenge, the bottle flip, or even the “In My Feelings” dance that went viral back then. Honestly, there isn’t a point in doing these things, but the media got us doing it somehow. Literally everyone in social media was doing it, and eventually these trends consume us – and before we knew it, we were, too, doing the exact same thing. These trends show how much pop culture can influence us, especially in this generation.
But these may be pointless right? Trends and pop culture can be fun and all, but why not make positive out of pointless? Since we know that pop culture has a very heavy influence in our lives, we know that this might be an effective way to spread positivity! Plus points because it goes on the media, it would be easily transmitted from one person to another.
As we step into the future, social change is something that can’t be avoided, it is something that should be considered “cool”, much like pop culture. It should also be something that anyone, regardless of their background, can understand, and that is why pop culture is a suitable media. It can be something that changes the society, and, hopefully, if it brings a positive impact, it can create new models, narratives, and norms that generations to come can adapt to and understand.
These social changes can be promoted through numerous social media platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, or even TikTok. This gives digital platforms a better purpose and it actually makes an impact on the society. Social changes in the media can be presented in forms of raising social awareness within communities, experience sharing and also campaigns about global issues. Social media is a platform that’s easy and reachable globally, making change as something accessible worldwide.
Actually, many artists and influencers have used numerous social media platforms to promote global issues. For instance, Emma Watson has been an advocate of feminism for as long as we can remember, from what she has said in most interviews and what she posts on social media. But only from her words and her posts, this actress and UN Women Ambassador has moved so many people and therefore creating a ripple of feminist movements from around the globe.
To conclude this topic, we can say that social media is a very big platform and it is a media that should be highly considered to bring positive social changes for the society. Not only that, I hope that we as the future leaders of this generation and forward, can bring in a positive impact in our lives and also the society. And, positivity doesn’t have to be boring, mix it up with the fun and cultivate the culture! With this, I hope that each and one of you can use your social media, change the trend, and advocate for social change!
Pop Culture Collaborative. 2020. Pop Culture For Social Change Terms And Definitions – Pop Culture Collaborative. [online] Available at: <https://popcollab.org/about-us/pop-culture-for-social-change-terms-and-definitions/> [Accessed 25 April 2020].
ThoughtCo. 2020. How Did Pop Culture Originate?. [online] Available at: <https://www.thoughtco.com/popular-culture-definition-3026453> [Accessed 6 June 2020].
Alfred Ironside, G., 2020. Report: How Pop Culture Works For Social Change. [online] Ford Foundation. Available at: <https://www.fordfoundation.org/ideas/equals-change-blog/posts/report-how-pop-culture-works-for-social-change/> [Accessed 6 June 2020].