How is digital culture impacting upon our lives?

In the last 100 years, or even less, our lives and culture have changed so drastically that it would have been almost impossible to imagine.

“With the arrival of digital media, the world was arguably altered and the way that we think of ourselves and the planet (indeed the universe) has conceivably changed forever. In particular, digital culture is associated with the speeding up of social change, causing a number of technological and social transformations in a surprisingly short amount of time…” – Creeber and Martin (2009)

Nowadays, the worst situation a person could imagine being in is having no battery on their phone, or worse. No internet access. (It’s okay, breathe, your only imagining!).

We live in such a world that our town centres now have Wi-Fi access EVERYWHERE. From the Starbucks, the shopping centres and even on some public transport. There is nowhere to escape from the freshest posts and tweets. We’re always one click away from everything. We’re always connected.

On a personal level, I find it sad that the future generations won’t know the feeling of growing up playing outside and passing time with a colouring book and crayons. My 4 year old niece can stream her favourite Disney movies off a laptop, connect the laptop to the TV, and voila. At 4 I was probably somewhere crying because I wanted a new Barbie. This is our culture now. This is what we have to get used to! Without social networks like Twitter and YouTube I couldn’t last a day. Even our conversations face to face always head back to “did you see what he/she wrote on Facebook?!” and “did you see that new video so and so uploaded on YouTube? No? Oh my god I’ll show you now”…

Not only face to face though. Our culture is so dependent on technology. Writing a letter seems so ancient history!! We have almost everything on our mobile phones. Messaging, tweeting, watching, Skyping- you name it. With over a million apps available to download on every android or apple device there is no limitations left for us to have to work for. Or imagine having to go out of our ways to find something or browse, because we have the internet too. So what’s left?

Twitter plays a massive part in today’s society and how ‘trending topics’ or celebrity tweets impact our lives now. But it isn’t always a positive site.

‘Fandoms’ on twitter and other social networks play a big part in celebrity’s lives’ and their profiles/tweets. From arguing with other fandoms over ‘who is better’ to trending topics based on their favourite celeb, it can become nasty and problems such as cyber bullying and hurtful comments can commence.

An example of the negative way digital culture impacts us is a trend that went global on twitter earlier this year. It was called “CutForBieber”.  In January 2013 images of Justin Bieber surfaced the internet with what seemed to be him smoking marijuana. A group of pranksters online began a trend to see if they could encourage his fans to tell him to stop, by self-harming. This was absolutely shocking and soon became the top trend in the USA, with it trending in the UK too and other parts of the world I’m sure. They began to upload fake pictures of girls that had self-harmed with captions such as “I’ll stop when you stop” and “it hurts but I’m doing it for Justin”.  Justin Bieber is the second most followed person on twitter. With almost 50 million followers, there was no way this story would go down quietly. Some fans instantly spread the trend begging the Canadian star to stop and blaming him for what was occurring, while other young teenagers actually posted pictures of themselves cutting. Though we didn’t know how many were fake and how many weren’t a young girl can be easily influenced and naive to these situations- it is a very serious topic. Many took to the internet and joined in with the trolls, posting pictures and tweets making fun of the incident:

What people don’t realise is digital culture has the power to manipulate and control. The minute a young person sees topics like the one above trending, it’s like they have to prove themselves and feel included and part of a fandom. So they will take action without thinking about what they’re doing and the consequences. The way celebrities have such a main role in these young girls and fans lives is quite terrifying. They can post a few words online and within seconds people are going crazy to be noticed and get attention. Our lives are becoming almost robot like with people not being able to go and eat out without having to upload a picture on Instagram of their food first. Or check in and say where they are and who they’re with. Location settings on everything we share- it can be a risk posting online. Programmes such as Catfish on MTV that are exposing people pretending to be someone else and get into ‘online dating’ (or even worse) are now opening societies eyes to the dangers and news we forget because were so engrossed in the new media and networks. We can’t escape from digital culture.

There are positives too such as opening people’s eyes to natural disasters and poverty all over the world. This is helpful as everything can be shared and uploaded with no holds bars. At the same time, it is quite suffocating and privacy online and in society seems to be decreasing.

Latest: There is now an app that allows you to order food from a menu at the restaurant of your choice. Which means it will be ready for pick up or at the table as soon as you get there! Isn’t the whole point of actually going out and conversing with others while waiting for your food the fun of ordering from outside and going to a restaurant? Thoughts?

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