In the modern world, there has been an increase in the use of social media among the old and the young. Nearly everybody can access at least one form of social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other forms. Evidently, this has come with a trend of changing lifestyles which has brought along a pop culture. A pop culture refers to the modern culture that people have acquired globally which is transmitted through use of mass media. The group most affected by this culture are the younger generation. Nearly every youth, particularly from their teens to approximately 35 years, has access to the social media platforms of the modern day that has seen a pop culture developing slowly by slowly. The youth uses devices ranging from phones, tablets and iPads to access the media. Thanks to the increase in technology and greater varieties, these devices have become relatively affordable.
Anchored in the young generation's desire to keep up with the standards of their age mates regarding modernity, there has been a pop culture that has a variety of characteristics. One of these is the fact that pop culture celebrates the users or the parties experiencing it and is commercially self-perpetuating and self-sustaining, meaning it "pays for itself." Pop culture is also known always to be looking for "new" ways of doing something. It binds together the parties experiencing it. This is particularly evident in how easy it is to maintain a relationship, especially romantic relationships among people on the same social media platform. Communication has become very efficient in the pop culture. This is because of the enormous numbers that are on the media platforms hence information can be passed from one party to another worldwide in a very short time. This paper gives an analysis of various issues concerning pop culture and media and gives light on the various setbacks and advantages involved.
Tastemakers in Media and Pop Culture
A tastemaker refers to a person or a group of people which influences what is fashionable at a given point in time. These parties have a great influence and people rely on their decisions to know what is backward, what is fashionable now or what will be fashionable shortly. In social media, the advent of social sharing and reviews necessitates the need for a word of mouth with a dominating impact (Driscoll). This has seen the development of tastemakers. Very many activities take place on social media, for example, advertising and marketing. This means that these parties have to seek for influence on their audience and use the pop culture prevailing in social media for your advantage. This has brought the need for being a tastemaker or working along with a tastemaker. They have way much influence on their followers regarding their dressing, family lives, eating and exercise habits. This creates an opportunity for businesses to exploit the power that these people have on their followers purchase decisions.
Tastemakers on social media can be people or organizations with the greatest number of friends or followers online. Evidently, these tastemakers have a great say or influence on a variety of matters. Often, you find that most users tend to back their ideas and what they propose is seen as better than the foregone alternatives. This is because there is an influence they carry that has so much weight on pop culture (Lewis). For example, you may find that a tastemaker eats at a given restaurant and likes their food. By him/her liking their food and services and going on social media to proclaim this, you find that most people affected by pop culture may rate the restaurant better than they did regardless of the fact that the tastemaker might have been biased. In addition to this, the tastemaker might be hired by the restaurant to market their foods and services. Nevertheless, the influence the tastemaker has on social media will have a great impact in marketing the services provided at the specific restaurant. This is because you find that most of the tastemaker's followers and friends will opt to go by the idea of their leader, the tastemaker as they try to fit in hence developing the pop culture.
Tastemakers can be good advertising agents for products (Driscoll). For example, some influential people might be using a given brand of phone, say Samsung phones. They go ahead and post photos of their phones on social media and tag along features of the phone and how effective they are. Their followers will most probably purchase these Samsung phones to keep up with the standards. This trend is very common. Sometimes, this even affects the prices of the products quoted by the tastemakers. They tend to hike because of the high "value" attached as a result of the tastemaker's views or opinions (Driscoll). Most often, tastemakers are influential people in the society. For example, television news anchors, radio presenters or even footballers.
The presence of tastemakers in a pop culture cannot be under-estimated. It is a very good advertising tool for organizations assuming the tastemakers are not biased. They can help their followers make better purchase decisions if they are reliable. However, if the tastemakers are with bias in their actions and choices, it can be quite misleading for their followers hence leading to poor purchase decisions which culminates to a culture where "class" is not accompanied with value but, say the brand of given products determined by tastemakers (Driscoll).
As the youth try to keep up with the pop culture in media, there is an increasing need to make independent decisions, and when following the opinions of tastemakers, they should evaluate the choices. This will make media a more informative tool as opposed to one that just drags people, especially the young generation, into ideologies that are farfetched and non-logical. Although pop culture dictates that the decisions of tastemakers are the best, it is best not to be carried away and forget that the tastemakers are still human, and they are prone to mistakes and bias in decision making (Driscoll).
Gatekeepers are the people or organizations responsible for deciding or controlling which information will be disseminated to the general public. The regulation may be in publication, on the Internet, broadcasting or other means of communication. Gatekeepers allow for information from individuals that would otherwise not reach a large audience to reach greater massive audiences. For example, a wire service editor makes decisions on the news that media audiences will receive from other countries or continents (David and John S. Armstrong).
Notably, gatekeepers work in almost the same way as tastemakers. They have a lot of influence on the information that gets to the audience. This means that if they are biased, they will influence the understanding of the audience. For this reason, it is evident that their decisions play a very important role in determining the information that gets to the general public regarding various matters. They might choose only to give information benefiting their self-interests. This will mean bias in the communication process and, therefore, a situation where the audience is biased too since the audience will most likely get the perspective of the gatekeeper (Robert and Joshua).
About pop culture, it can be seen that gatekeepers have a very critical role in determining the culture of the people using the media platform involved. This is because the gatekeepers filter the information that will be accessible to them meaning that the culture that the audience adopts will in a great way be determined by the information they will receive. Gatekeepers, for example, may want to influence the views if massive audiences regarding a given political ideology. In such a case, they will publicize the facts regarding the idea in question and ensure that it is all over the media such that more people get access to it (Robert and Joshua). This will mean that great proportions of the audiences will adopt the given idea as compared to the countering ideas. Consequently, this will shape the pop culture of the audience in a great way. This is because, in most circumstances, you find that the culture of the masses will tend to follow the information given to them whereas the information had been censored to meet the needs of the gatekeepers and their self-interests. This is in the case of bias among gatekeepers (Robert and Joshua).
A good example of gatekeeping and its effect on culture is on a journalist named Allan Thompson. Allan pointed to the indolence in the media covering the Rwandan genocide. Approximately one million people-men, women and children- were killed in the violent attacks in just 100 days. Yet, according to Thompson, very few foreign journalists were in Africa at the time, which explains the reason why the world was slow to learn of the mayhems. The news were dominated by the Simpson's murder trial, Tonya's attack on a figure skater colleague, or the conflict in Bosnia which was definitely less bloody that that of Rwanda. Allan argues that inadequate attention by the international community media played a great role in allowing the local Rwanda politicians to remain content hence not work to solve the conflict in their country. Therefore, little media coverage reduced the call for help and participation of international forces to control the situation in Rwanda. This is because there was no political will for the international media community to invest troops, time and funds in solving a faraway conflict. According to Richard Dowden, the British newspaper editor for African news, there was great reluctance on the international media community part to cover news focusing on Africa. He said, "Africa was simply not important. It didn't sell newspapers. Newspapers have to make profits. So it wasn't important" (Robert and Joshua).
In the case of Rwanda, gatekeepers downplayed the mass killings in 1994, a time of pronounced crisis in the country. This contributed to the massive killings and the deaths of the million who died. This shows the enormous role played by gatekeepers in media.
Culture Shapes Media vs. Media Shapes Culture
This concept seeks to determine which is independent of the other: culture and media. Evidently, there is freedom of speech, a quality that is central to America's mass communication field. The United States, in particular, has the broadest protections for speech. However, the press and speech is not always free. The law has placed limits on the liberty of press and speech. For example, vulgarity is not tolerated. Nevertheless, there is no clear-cut definition of vulgarity or obscenity legally (Kelly). This is because of varying community standards since you find that some language or terms may be vulgar in one community but in another, the language is acceptable. This brings a tug-of-war between cultural values and vulgarity/obscenity.
Ideally, media shapes culture. This is because, people will tend to follow the information they attain by reading, seeing or other forms of communication (Kelly). This is opposed to the reverse of this where culture shapes media. Since we have no control of the information reaching us, it would be wrong to assume that our culture will determine the media. Instead, it is the media that decides our culture. Evidence to this is the development of a pop culture. This shows how much media affects our culture. For example, there is so much Westernization in Africa since the interception of social media (Kelly). Numerous Africans, especially, the younger generations, have copied Western lifestyles. This is a good example of how media has shaped people's culture.
In most circumstances, you find that the people using social media tend to get ideas from their colleagues on social media leading to a situation where there is development of a global-like culture. This is because you find that individual cultures are fading day by day and being replaced by the pop culture which is kind of becoming the global culture. This is evidence for the effect media has on culture (Kelly).
The argument that culture affect media is not true. This is due to the fact that the audience has very minimal control over the information they access as long as they are on social media. If this were the case, then there would not have developed a pop culture since people would have chosen to remain in their old ways. There would be no communication channels hence dissemination of information would be quite slow. For this reason, it is best to argue that it is media that affects culture and not culture that affects media (Kelly).
A Changing System for the Internet Era
In the internet era, there has been less reliance on ancient methods of communicating news to masses. For example, the radio or television. Evidence has it that there are fewer television viewers as compared to people using social media. This trend has led to on a social media platform, for example, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, is quite efficient regarding speed and coverage as compared to passing the information over the television. Advertising has also become better when done on social media as opposed to other ancient methods like radio and television. Increased internet usage and other options such as optic fiber have increased the people who can access the social media platforms hence a more efficient method of communication (Sparrow).
Instances that show an increased efficiency of using social media to pass information in the modern world are numerous. One of these is when President Barrack Obama bypassed the traditional televised press conference and instead went ahead to communicate to his supporters through a text message in 2008 that he had chosen Joe Biden as his running mate in the presidential elections. He was able to contact approximately 2.9 million people in a short time as compared to the number that would have watched the press conference he would have called for. Another instance is the death of Michael Jackson. When he died of cardiac arrest in 2009, his death was a top trending topic on Twitter before the mainstream media stations- televisions and radios- reported the news.
It is important to note that use of digital age media on the internet has become a great force for pop culture. However, this has not rendered other traditional media outlets obsolete. A key pointer to this is the fact that most singers and writers opt first to make their mark on the internet and then quickly move to the traditional media outlets. This is especially the case for new media stars (Sparrow).
On the overall, the internet has played a very important role in the development of the pop culture. It has acted as a platform for people to exchange ideas. This has given a great boost for the development of pop culture (Berger). Evidently, more people exchanging ideas will mean that the rate of innovation will also be quite high. This is because people will learn new ways of handling issues and consequently, innovation will come into play. All social media platforms usually take place on the internet. This means that the internet has become a very important asset in the modern world. This is the case both for individuals and for businesses. Gaining much knowledge over the internet gives one a chance to have a variety of ideas on solving problems, making decisions and even relational skills. The indispensable benefits of the internet in this age are responsible for the pop culture.
The introduction of social media to the society has brought a great change to greater population in the world. These changes have affected everyone one of us in a various way. Social media in the modern world has brought so much that we cannot even imagine. Take for example communication that has changed with time because of social media. Unlike old days when people used to send letters and could take days to reach the destination. For a message to be conveyed within time people had to send letters some days before. This gave an allowance of some days so that message is conveyed in time. That has changed because now message takes less than a second to reach the stipulated destination. People in the modern world receive real-time messages and give real time feedbacks (Hllam).
News from all over the world is known with ease. Social media with the help of network has made the whole world a global village. Someone can watch live events happening a thousand miles away from him or her. This has enabled travelers to plan their journey. A traveler will know the current situation the destination without having to be there physically. Investors from all over the world also able to get real opportunities awaiting them through social media. Updates of all types of investment in different continents and countries linked with them easily. Social media has now become part of human beings that human may never want to live without. Jobs opportunities have also risen as a result of social media. A good percent of men and women are living their dreams because of social media (Hllam).
Benefits of social media are quite many we can name more and more, but there are also challenges. People have different views and opinions that they feel they want to express. The only place where this issues can be addressed is on social media. Due to this, a lot has been known to human from across the world. Immorality that has hit the world in this modern days has been as a result of social media (Hllam). Having all types of immoral topics discussed, the immoral picture was shown, and immoral tapes cast on social media has made it possible for human to change his way of living. People from different regions have been able to adapt cultures from other regions. A culture that destroys their well-being and personality and later this affects society negatively. Just to name a few, drug addicts, serial killers, and rapist as this are issues we find on social media. Without forgetting peer influence, that has affected the world. Here we find all sort of activities being told as invention mostly among youths. Youth is easily trapped by fellow friends through social media. This has also made it possible for human trafficking to happen with no hopes of ending it.