Social Networking’s influence on Popular Culture (Post-Modern)
Social networking is a mass media juggernaut that has impacted society with a barrage of paths to express ideals, communicate with the outside world in the realm of mass culture, as being part of this postmodern culture. Starting with MySpace, to Face book, and to now twitter, it’s technological influences has helped to become a part of our everyday existence. Though used in a positively and part of everyday, social networking’s influence on mass culture it still promotes other forms of cultural prevalent topics. Therefore, social networking has become a median of post-modern society to express them while not having to be in person to do it and has become a social means of discussion.
“Post modernity is, to put it in a nutshell, a time of constant, everyday choice–for humanity as a whole as much as for the individual men and women.”(Bauman pg. 81). We as a civilization live in the postmodern world, a society illustrated by an innovative ability to control there own perceived nature and worlds of illusion. It guides society into a virtual environment of images and simulations (YouTube, Oovoo, I-Chat) and encourages the acting out of desires, including desires that once seemed off-limits to action and experience. Ultimately, it seeks to turn reality into a simulation and make simulations seem real, so humanity will have the ability to control and create its surroundings at will. These social networking websites completely fit the paradigm of the world that social networking sites intend on delivering to its customers. Therefore, allowing users to invent facsimile reality, due to the fact that it gives us a sense of a capability to be able to reconstruct a universe for our own discretion.
The fundamental functions of all three major social networking websites promote other ideals of the postmodern culture. They also encompass various forms of the ideals that our culture, such as consumption, identity, and our social interactions. Now more than ever has this been true as social networking websites have become part of our everyday existence.
Identity is the concept in which an individual identifies their character traits that leads to finding out who they are and what they do and not that of someone else, n other words it's basically who you are and what you define yourself as being. One would think that identity was personal, an individuals uniqueness would perpetuate there identity, far from it, is often imposed on individuals by societal expectations. Karl Marx (famed German philosopher) explained that identity in the past was more an economic theme instead of a cultural issue. He explains through the economic system of private ownership, society divides itself into two classes: the property owners (rich people) and the property-less (the rest of society) workers, or in other words Capitalism. Capitalism is economic systems in which the production and distribution of goods depend on invest on private capital and profit making. Capitalism is a social order where profit regulates the financial life and also the social structure by creating a pathway for High/Low culture to be created. The high culture is explained as the elite of society or individuals with an immensely better education or individuals, low culture therefore would mean the rest of society or the working class. The divisions of culture are widely seen, even in today’s music, television, and cinema.
Social networking websites have opened the doors for identity re-creation, allowing people from around the world to engage in identity re-creations thus having the power to mold alternative personas. Face book for example hosts over 400 million active users a day (now boasting that they have over a billion users) engaging in the website on a daily basis to facilitate an ongoing dialogue of their identity and generating influence amongst their networks. Social networking’s defuses the ideals of the high/low culture by facilitating and personify the present day popular culture, by allowing anyone to join and enjoy the services that these websites present.
Social networking users employ a number of features including notes, games, chat, joining fan pages, starting groups, posting statuses, and writing on other’s networking pages. Through these experiences, users develop their own websites to create their image, and to produce their own spotlight through a simulated “celebrity” experience. Social networking basic function is online identity construction, or basically allowing users to define themselves by more than just their actual identity or in other words the categorizations we place on ourselves. The famed painter Andy Warhol explained once in the past that “in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes” and that holds true with social networking websites.
Users ascertain the experiences of “celebrity” when friends, family and associates are allowed access to a user’s opinion, location and relationships; thus giving up the customariness of private life in exchange for a celebrity-like experience. As the post modern culture is explained again “the opportunity of becoming a celebrity has spread beyond the various elites and into the expectations of the population in general” (Brooker). Social networking allows the common individual delve for a while into the life of celebrity while not in actuality being the celebrity, thus recreating themselves in a postmodern light.
Social interaction has dramatically evolved over the past generations, and has especially taken a heavy evolutionary jump with the addition of social networking. As society has moved closer from the local to the global realm over the last several years’ communications technology has evolved dramatically. Technological advances such as the Internet, iPods, Blackberries and high definition television are all items that were either non-existent or unavailable to the general public less than twenty years ago. Especially now, more than ever have we seen technology become so prevalent in everyday existence?
Herbert Blumer coined the term symbolic interaction, which is another postmodern ideal that is very prevalent in our present day; it is the process of interaction in the formation of meanings (symbols) for individuals. As Bulmer explains “people act toward things based on the meaning those things have for them; and these meanings are derived from social interaction and modified through interpretation.”(Blumer pg 67) Society actions are based on symbolic meanings they find within any given situation. We thus interact with the symbols, forming relationships around them. The goals of our interactions with one another are to create shared meaning. Language is itself a symbolic form, which is used to anchor meanings through letters and words to convey messages to each other. Social networking is a great example of symbolic interaction, as in aspect that there is no real face-to-face conversation. We use symbols on our social networking websites to explain ourselves. Such as the like button on face book which, symbolizes an individuals agreement with a certain status they read, or when one comments on an individuals page on face book with shapes of hearts or smiles.
The impact of social networking has affected the consumer profoundly. According to Nielsen poll adoption of social technologies has effectively reached total saturation. 80% of people in the US use social media, which is equal to the number of people who text via SMS or equivalent to the same amount of individuals who own DVD players. The fact of the matter is that Social media users already number in the hundreds of millions, providing the reach of traditional media but also the precision of one-to-one service and attention, which no other media outlet can compare too. This expresses the end of the high/low culture and promotes the post modern “popular culture”. As advertisement is subject to anyone, with no limitations.
Social networking in all it’s facets completely is delved in the post-modern ideal. It affects societies’ consumer base, it affects the image that individuals want to be perceived, and it even has changed our everyday interactions with each other. It completely is involved with everyday life for most of the world. In conclusion social networking is completely saturated into he fabric of society and will probably be a topic of discussion for generations to come.
Barker, Chris. Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice. London: Sage, 2008. Print.
Bauman, Zygmunt. Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity, 2001. Print.
Blumer, Herbert. Symbolic Interactionism Perspective and Method. Berkeley [u.a.: Univ. of California, 2009. Print.
"Dr Will Brooker - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - Kingston University London." Welcome - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - Kingston University London. Web. 13 Dec. 2010. <http://fass.kingston.ac.uk/faculty/staff/cv.php?staffnum=354>.
Worldwide | The Nielsen Company. Web. 13 Dec. 2010. <http://www.nielsen.com/>.