Popular culture is continuously shifting from one idea to the next. It wasn’t really all that long ago that the scourge of a generation was music videos on television. Compared to our social media saturated life now, however, MTV seems like an eon ago. To truly understand popular culture, one needs to understand how the internet works; stay on top of emerging trends; and ensure that when a new trend surfaces to not become too immersed a single fad. As we see time and time again, today’s popular cultural must-have, is tomorrow’s ironic meme.
So what is the best way to stay engaged with popular culture, while not placing too much focus on one trend? Three great strategies to keep abreast of popular culture are: staying connected to youth culture; reading and listening to a broad spectrum of media; and paying attention to large events emblematic of popular culture.
Staying connected to youth culture does not mean getting your nose pierced or wearing jeggings. It means keeping an open mind to what youth culture is trying to say through fashion, popular music and social media. Many people think as they age that youth culture no longer speaks to them, that current trends are vulgar or crude. Many of these negative feelings come from a lack of understanding.
Popular culture is not one idea or trend, but many different things happening at once. Keeping a broad perspective and taking in as varied media as possible, is an excellent way to stay apprised of a broad spectrum of popular culture. Try and listen to a number of different podcasts; watch a new show that is trending on twitter; and try to absorb news from alternate sources from the mainstream media.
One of the best ways to get a sense for new trends, ideas and memes is likely something that most people already do. Millions of people tune into each of the large award shows, such as the Academy Awards. An even larger audience will watch a big sporting event such as the World Cup. Often the way these shows are broadcast and the focus of the coverage will reveal key emerging trends in popular culture.
Keeping abreast of popular culture is not a chore, it can be exciting. The world around us is ever changing and being at the leading edge of a new trend can be exhilarating. While understanding popular culture a little better, makes for a richer life.