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Is Internet Culture Now the Absolute Culture?

How the digital age has reshaped the meaning of the term 'pop culture'

Tech and the online worldSocial IssuesHobbies and Interests
By VoiceBox ·

Prosper Ishaya

Prosper Ishaya is a Nigerian writer and Culture journalist. He is currently studying for a degree in Chemical Engineering and is interested in telling stories centering the human condition as well as its affection to society.

Is Internet Culture Now the Absolute Culture?

Most of contemporary modern life exists online—and that's no surprise. After all, doesn't the internet posit before us all shades of alluring types of "content"? And for those of us who are overly online, our real life has become alternated with this second reality. It's why we constantly keep swiping through TikTok, breezing through our Instagram, scaling through the hellscape of our Twitter timelines, and running to different podcasts and indie zines. 

But before now, that is before when the internet became so commonplace in everyday human interactions and activities, the world over was invested in a monoculture.  A monoculture meaning we as a society consumed the same news, television shows, movies, music, games and beyond. Meaning that, as a community, we followed whatever was the popular choice. And this, in effect, birthed the term "Pop Culture". 

But today, according to many cultural critics, the monocultural era has been long dead and has thus been effectively replaced by the many cultures existing and sprouting on the internet, nicknamed ‘internet culture’. 

Sometimes you ask: Why is it that real people dedicate their time and resources to becoming memers, stans, anime enthusiasts, gamers etc? What is it that motivates them? And why is it that they build their entire internet identities around these subjects?

The answer is that having found a sense of a community online, one driven by a unique purpose, these people begin a process of making the internet their home. 

In the process of personalizing cyber experiences, users tend to have established trust in diverse cyber entities. Some of these users, too, create online identities representing themselves and often, these identities are almost parallel to their real life ones. But while some of these tweaked identities are faked for visual aesthetics, someare poised to reflect the user’s vulnerabilities and struggles. A typical example is the use of Instagram for glamorous displays by most of its users and its alternative use for vulnerability exhibitions in the form of “finstagrams” (fake Instagrams) by some users. 

The internet is universal, but it isn’t uniform. Everyone’s consumption of the internet is different. From podcasts to newsletters to indie zines to thought leaders in lieu of influencers, all cyber realities are subject to their user’s choice. This explains why we all have diverse reasons why we rely on the internet. It explains why I prefer skimming through Twitter instead of TikTok. It explains why we, though united by a single umbrella, have diverse takeaways from it. 

So far, social media platforms have wound their way to becoming the epicenter of the internet. To some of us, it's home, a place to kill time, a place to get updated and informed. How this became possible, however, relies on two reasons: the human nature to connect with other humans and the definite potency of these platforms.

But not only has social media seamlessly solved the problem of connectivity between its users it’s also hijacked other forms of human realities. It has caused independent industries to become reliant on its use for their business: the news, movies, music, arts, sciences, business, politics, education and all other facets of reality as we all know are now subjects to the internet.

It's the culmination of these activities present on the internet that has birthed this form of polyculture. We are, these days, very likely to be influenced by internet trends (TikTok's, especially). We are vulnerable to hashtags, to trolls, to the opinions of influencers we choose to follow, however harmful or beneficial. Somehow it has become a place we have grown to trust and, to some extent, distrust.

This reliance and time spent on the internet, according to some reports, is shaping who we are as a global community. It is reforming who we are as a people. It's changing our perspective of things. And as evidence, this can be seen in how we currently approach some topics with sensitivity. For instance, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has to some extent, educated and brought the world's attention to the realities of the black experience; the #MeToo movement, the realities of women in patriarchal societies. However this has also led some people to become extremists of different ideologies they have been fed on the internet. We are actively influenced by others even though we don't sometimes feel so. We belong and we feel seen.

Looking forward, it looks like there will be no end to this culture, only alterations. It's now the absolute culture. It's defining us as a people. After all, in today's world, it's almost impossible to survive without interacting with the digital sphere. And to this reason, this promised unending, let's raise our glasses as we say: long live internet culture. 

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