21st Century Culture is very different than all that came before it. Now if you ask a senior about the state of the world today, more often than not you would likely hear how "things ain't the way they used to be", and in all honesty they would be right. For the 20th Century Culture, the future has brought forth a lot left to be desired, but being on the hill (as opposed to over) I have the unique position of being a middle child of the centuries (old enough to remember the 70s, 80 & 90s, but young enough to appreciate the differences of living in the 21st century)
I can not argue things have all changed for the better, less TV stations meant more family activities, children used to spend significantly more time outdoors, the world seemed much safer, I recall gas as low as .30 a litre (before my teens) traditional movie sets were still being built, toys were fully functional (as opposed to just looking good today) and some would argue the world's moral fibre has diminished since the transition into the new century.
Being a middle child of history offers those like me a nostalgic appreciation for 20th century plus a level of gratitude for being present in the early 21st century. But in all honesty, despite the 21st century culture being very different, the 21st Century is the most exciting time to be alive.
THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE
Today's PC also offers connectivity to almost all aspects of human life, music...? Simple. Film and video...? A cinch. Cable TV...? No sweat. Video gaming...? Please. Education...? Duh. Set to be the primary threat to the library, bookstore and news print, the speed at which information is processed, shared, and stored offers a world of information at ones fingertips. But while the computer (PC) had a fundamental impact on today's culture, it goes hand in hand with perhaps the second 20th century invention to change the world...
Like what mashed potato and gravy is to a t-bone steak, like what tomato meat sauce is to spaghetti, like what gravy melted cheese chunks are to french fries, like what fried dumpling is to ackee and salt fish, the Internet and the PC go hand in hand like a twix bar. You could have one without the other... but why would you want to?
Especially when there is a global system of interconnected computer networks that exists to serve billions of users worldwide. The Internet is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, all linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies.
The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the infrastructure to support email and let's not forget the biggest and fastest growing aspect of the world wide web...
The term is used to describe a social structure determined by on-line interactions between individuals, groups, organisations, or even entire societies. What began with a simple place where friends could share stories and pictures grew to be a cultural phenomenon, branching out to interconnect like minded individuals, groups with common interests, on-line dating and hook up sites, in everything from hobbies to employment, education, Charity and disaster relief and organised protests, social networks have become as important a part of today's culture as wheels to a car. But like everything else that has a flipside... it's not all good.
I know as a writer I'm supposed to reflect a certain level of dispassion, but when it comes to this particular aspect of 21st Century Culture, I don't know... it just brings it out of me. In case you've been living on the moon, in a cave, with your ears plugged and your eyes closed you've heard of Cyberbullying. How it differs from the good ol' days of bullying is the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile (and often dangerous or tragic) manner.
In the very least the issue has brought bullying to light in a way never seen before, the main difference between the 21st and the previous centuries is the fact today's culture has at lease opened a dialogue (due in large part to seemingly unending news reports of our young taking their own lives as a direct result of the cowardly practice) With Cyberbullying, the victim never arrives at an opportunity to stand up to their tormentor, to confront and expose the person as the coward they really are. There is no glimpse into the bullies private world to arrive at the conclusion they were in fact bullied themselves (by a parent or sibling) No, the cyberbully can remain anonymous, or go public and draw attention from many who could perhaps lack the stomach to join in otherwise.
The best thing about being a young person in the 21st Century...? Dialogue. And as cyber bullying has become more common in society, particularly among young people, legislation and awareness campaigns have arisen to combat it. Cyber bullying also shed light on another topic that has waited a long time for honest conversation...
SAME SEX ISSUES
The difference between the 20th and 21st Century however, is that the up and coming generation has shed yet another layer of social inequity (like the civil and women's rights in the 60s) understanding they are free to recognise their culture's edicts without being bound by them. The world is shrinking, cultures are merging, and most importantly we have dialogue. Citizens of the 21st Century talk about social issues. Create pages on social networks dedicated to discussion.
The Same Sex issue is just another stumbling block to overcome on the road to a unified culture and peaceful world ready to truly take on understanding the human condition and purpose of life. Unlike in my high school experience where there were only rumours of who might be gay, today teens are generally comfortable enough to come out before their 20s (depending heavily on geography though) There are all sorts of shows and movies celebrating sexual freedom, the fact celebrities are also coming out in support of same sex rights hasn't hurt the cause at all.
We are so intrigued by what celebrities wore on the Red Carpet, tabloid reports on who's cheating, who's breaking up, who's in rehab, who has been arrested, who went on a wild rant, who was captured in a compromising photo, what starlets look like without makeup, who said what about something we probably wouldn't otherwise care about because we love the fall from grace arc, and celebrity quotes often demonstrate how dumb people can be and how much of a divide there is between us and the pedestal we place them upon.
Celebrities carry a lot of weight with culture, fashion, civil and human rights, politics and what's hot. Question is... why? Celebrities are just people. They have extraordinary gifts, have taken advantage of career building opportunities, and are wealthy. THAT DOESN'T MAKE THEM AN AUTHORITY ON ANYTHING (except in what it is they do for a living, and most are very humble in that regard) Yes, many are well educated or cultured and passionate about their interests/causes and as such can offer a unique perspective, but that's it.
We see these people driving the cars we want, sporting the expensive clothing we'll never wear, living in large houses we'll only see on TV in a music video, we love them for the songs they sing, the characters they portray, the five minute interview where they don't take off the mask of the well constructed public image until the cameras or tapes stop rolling (and we all wear masks BTW, anyone who's been for a job interview or stood in front of a judge knows this well) and that's part of the problem.
We expect our celebrities to be the people we admire for the things they do instead of who they really are. We envy their lives while they envy our privacy. Ever wonder how a celebrity can feel lonely with all the people constantly around them? Ever hear the saying careful what you wish for?
We need to appreciate what celebrities do for their living and stop fixating on what they say, think and do, what they're wearing, what they have or what kind of trouble they've gotten into and take time to consider how we feel about our social issues and what our own role in 21st society is. Remember, the downturn in which millions lost their livelihoods (and homes) to didn't affect celebrities or their spending habits much, lol.
That's what I think about Reality TV.
There is nothing real about Reality TV, if viewers think that the drama doesn't get played up when the cameras are on, or if they think Producers and staff aren't offering tidbits of making things more interesting (conflict) then they should go back and watch Jerry Springer. And regarding the effects on our young?
When a child not much older than a toddler can turn the TV on Saturday or Sunday morning and instead of watching cartoons tune in to a show to hear every other word spewing from the gateways of hell (the player's mouths) having to be be censored it should be a problem. We're seeing people of all ages yelling, screaming profanities, and being disrespectful to each other for our entertainment and we are somehow left wondering why our children have such negative behavioral issues. Really?
Believe me, I had a world of images to choose from, females from older women to surprisingly young looking girls are taking unabashed part in this cultural phenomenon. My view of riske self shots...
Ugh... jello (I think the picture says volumes more than any more words need to say)
CELEBRITY UPSKIRTS AND WARDROBE MALFUNCTIONS
Being a man who spent his teenage years in the 80s, I`ve seen my share of adult movies that glorify the male need to peek.
You know something is part of our culture when otherwise professional photographers strive for the perfect position to capture the most compromising and distasteful shots. It's when you turn on your computer and the latest Red Carpet Nip Slip highlighted as being in the popular videos section of any web site.
You know that something is a part of the culture when it has it's own category on porn sites. How did the current fascination of underwear peeking explode...? I'll leave it to your imagination.
LIVE AMATURE CAMS
The Billions of Dollars a year industry has made significant advances with respect to the PC & Internet. The current sexual revolution and sexual freedom is a double edged sword. More exposure to porn sites has engendered a new form of sexual exploitation in Live Sex Cams. Today the average (young) woman can earn a buck as long as she's connected to the Internet via PC and high speed modem.
As long as there are horny men with money to spend on their fantasies more and more inexperienced young women will engage in activities that would probably make most parents burst into tears.
With the rise in popularity with all things Nerdy (Sci Fi, comic books, anime, gaming) and living in an age where you can research how to do/make... well just about anything, and add to that the latest cultural declaration of sexual freedom since the 60s and 70s and you have Cosplay.
I didn't know it was a cultural phenomenon until I did research while writing a post on it, like most (despite my love of Sci Fi) I dismissed cosplay as Star Trek fans with too much time on their hands (or no life like is commonly portrayed in media) there are thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions who have a passion for dressing up in their favorite characters.
I don't actually. Like most people overindulging in Internet usage (and who happened to be a fan of X Files) it's not hard to get caught up in the nonsense (and I did for a while) Conspiracy theories, secret agendas, clandestined activities, doomsday prophecies all seemed to be designed to do one thing (mainly) make money. But since December 21 2012 came and went without incident, I think many are waking up to this reality, after all, if not for this cultural phenomenon, 2012 the movie wouldn't have done half as well on it's own merits (not that it wasn't entertaining)
The internet is abuzz with all sorts of accusations against the music and film industries, analysing secret hand signs, secret handshakes and not so secret public displays of hand gestures, symbols, clothing and accessories which have many concluding involvement in some sinister plot to install a New World Order. As if the world and living in the 21st Century isn't complicated enough.
The beginning of the 21st Century will be forever linked to what is perhaps the most painful chapter in late 20th century American history. It installed increased safety measures, the War on Terror and wars in the Middle East. It did unite the U.S. in a way not seen since Pearl Harbor, and garnered much sympathy from countries the world over. Those lost and the loved ones left behind should never be forgotten.
THE WAR ON DRUGS
Nuff said really.
Climate scientists have postulated that the earth is undergoing significant anthropogenic (human-induced) global warming. They say the resulting economic and ecological costs are hard to predict. Some scientists argue that human-induced global warming risks considerable losses in biodiversity and ecosystem services unless considerable sociopolitical changes are introduced, particularly in patterns of mass consumption and transportation.
My opinion...? The difficulties of living through the ice age is deeply ingrained in our cultural memory. Most people aren't aware the Earth has in fact had as many as a dozen ice ages. The Earth is billions of years old, has endured the never ending cycle of life, death and rebirth. Continents have fractured, drifted apart and are expected to drif together and reassemble again.
First, most experts spent most of the 20th century scoffing at the idea of Global Warming, then pulled a 180 now that going green is an industry. I'm not saying our civilization's soon to be post military industrial lifestyle isn't effecting the environment, and it's good our society grows more concerned with the succeeding generations, like everything else we need balance.
MASS ANIMAL DEATHS AND EXTINCTIONS
Many attribute mass animal deaths as a key indicator something worrisome is happening in our world, but again the truth is species indicative of a specific age have been known to become extinct. We haven't been around long enough to know if mass extinctions begin with mass animal deaths.
Is it tragic? Whether you love animals or not the answer may be yes. Is it part of Mama Nature's normal birth pangs moving from one age to the next? Let's hope we're here to find out (it's estimated there may have been as many as twenty major events when over 50% of animal species died in the past 540 million years. Is that tragic?