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Popnology: How Pop Culture and Technology Influence Each Other

Gone are the days where we’re passive consumers of media. Today, we’re the media. Made possible by technology like social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, we’ve become creators and the direct consumers of information and entertainment.

While technology develops primarily to make processes more efficient and our lives more convenient, its effect on the entertainment industry has been spectacular. From the music industry to the film industry, everything has taken a 180. Records, cassette tapes, and CDs are seeing a decline because of streaming services like Deezer. Other video streaming services such as Netflix, Apple TV+ too are replacing traditional film and television. With so much information, video and audio content, and of course, memes, it isn't an overstatement to say that it really is the golden age of entertainment.

We Are at the Centre of Our Own Microcosm

Ten years ago, we were enraptured with the TV show ‘Lost’, while hype around the iPhone reached new levels as the iPhone 4 series S was introduced. Believe it or not, 4 million units were sold in 3 days! Of course, other things were trending back in 2011 too - Rebecca Black, Amazon Kindle Fire, and the HP touchpad.

Today, talks of the new iPhone 13 and the president of Singapore defending Olympic stars are making waves on the internet. Day after day, new trends pop up and we’re the trendsetters because with the power of the internet in the palm of our hands, we call the shots. Literally. As we post pictures of our breakfasts online, such minuscule acts are evidence enough to prove that many believe that one's life is interesting enough to others. Even before influencers began dominating public consciousness, the internet had made it incredibly easy for anyone to publish their own content. Celebrities or not, digitalisation and the advent of technology have “tipped the scales of power in favour of the consumer forever.” With the tap of a finger, by uploading a video, or by starting a hashtag, ordinary people have the ability to get what they want and bring about the change they yearn for.

Technology Incorporated into Culture

As the advancements of technology have raised hopes for a better future and a new level of immersion, the influence it has had on our everyday lives and culture cannot be denied. Now embedded in people’s lives, our culture in general has experienced changes in a number of different areas due to technology, such as:

1. Communication

From writing and posting snail mail letters to sending emails at the click of a button. From showing family and friends photographs to uploading everything to socials for them to see.

In many ways, these advances have been for the best, especially when it bridged the gap in time and space. While some may say that the introduction of the internet has caused us to become detached from one another, the way we communicate with each other has been one of the biggest things in our day-to-day lives to change because of technology.

2. Gaming

A now multi-billion dollar industry, gaming has come a long way since the days of playing Space Invaders and Pong at the local arcade. Now, we can connect with players from all over the world while fully immersed in a gaming landscape that’s absolutely gorgeous and with amazing graphics.

And while it’s still evolving, Virtual Reality (VR) is fast becoming something absolutely incredible too. It’ll be really interesting to see where tech can take us over the next few years in this space.

3. Work

While it might have been a bit of a forced expansion due to COVID-19, it’s no secret that more people are now working from home. And this would most certainly not be possible at all without the right technology to support it. Instead of having to go into the office for every meeting, we’re now able to use video call tech like Zoom to get the job done. Online storage that can be shared with the entire company allows us to easily access whatever work-related files and documents we need even if we’re not physically in the office. And programmes such as Trello and Asana mean we can collaborate with our entire team no matter where we are.

Pop Culture: A Reflection of Technology

Defined as products such as music, fashion, television, and more that are consumed by a majority of society’s population, pop culture is a type of media that has mass accessibility and appeal. And when one thinks of mass accessibility, technology and its ability to push products for mass consumption comes to mind.

With the internet acting as a fulcrum for pop culture, its evolution is clear to see. Considering that some of the best modern media are based on technology and the Internet, it's only natural that pop culture is a direct reflection of these changes. For example, trends by legends such as the late David Bowie.

Space Oddity was more than a mere song that incorporated science-fiction. Released just 5 days before Apollo 11 was due to set off, it was a defining moment in pop culture as it was a window into the future, just like the technology.

However, once driven by the “shock of the new”, pop culture today blurs the line between the past and the future. Things that were considered a cutting edge of technology are now collectibles that allow us to reimagine the mythical past. From Back to the Future to Rick Astley’s dance-pop hit that has recently surpassed a billion views on YouTube, past trends have become popular again, all thanks to technology. Even back in 2019, vinyl was poised to outsell CDs for the first time since 1986! Whatever the reason for the resurgence in popularity of past fads, trends sparked and spread in this generation shape the way we experience the “now”.

And while the advancement of technology has allowed us to recreate the past, the element of virality that pop culture supports should be addressed as well. For this has to be one of the key reasons why something as mundane as a song is now something that has left its mark on pop culture.

The Democratisation of Pop Culture Trends

Thanks to the ability to reach global audiences online, things that ‘go viral’ have become synonymous ‘celebrity’ status. Bella Poarch’s simple lip-syncing TikTok video, for example, was one of the biggest viral videos of the year. From the likes of Dixie D’Amelio to Addison Rae, the internet has not only made it easier for people to connect anywhere in the world, but has also made fame more accessible.

Why Do Things Go Viral?

Ever watched a TikTok video or YouTube Shorts, and wondered how they garner massive likes and attention? As much as the internet and social media have played a massive role in spreading memes, videos, and hashtags, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of things going viral. Consider these trends popularised by technology and/or the internet:

  • Fidget spinners
  • Game of Thrones
  • Weinstein/#metoo
  • Royal wedding
  • Keanu Reeves
  • Ice bucket challenge
  • Grumpy cat
  • Old Spice
  • Gangnam Style
  • Among Us
  • Bottle flipping
  • Flossing

And that’s just scratching the surface of pop culture trends that became massive as a direct result of technology. A culture that used to be associated with “fluff”, consumed by the billions and was dismissed as trivial, now holds some significance - I mean, Grumpy Cat getting a Hollywood deal says a lot about how memes and virality have the ability to start a chain reaction.

Several psychology theories point to our psyche being hardwired to seek out novelty and anything that quenches our thirst for information that fills the gap between what we want to know and what we already know. Triggering a range of emotions such as excitement, happiness, or even anger, a viral video functions like the hit of dopamine, similar to getting a like on your Facebook or Instagram post. But is that all there is to it?

The simplicity of being able to connect through technology and communicate with others on the internet has impacted our culture both locally and globally. This is especially so with more opting to connect online instead of face-to-face. However, at the same time, the attention we pay to ordinary people online has led to the democratisation of pop culture trends, fuelled by technology.

How Pop Culture Has Led to Technology Trends

The mass consumption process that is intertwined with virality and pop culture is also one that has found its way into technological advancements. Although not as apparent, trends only influence both the way we consume and distribute information, and the content and products we produce.

Star Wars, Star Trek, and Back to the Future have often been cited as inspiration for technologists and entrepreneurs to invent new things. We often see new and interesting imagined technology in science-fiction shows and films, and these sometimes serve as the source of inspiration for individual inventors and companies to design and develop tech in the real world.

Here are some of the top technology trends that were brought about by pop culture:

HoloChess: seen originally in the Star Wars universe, there are now 2 such games available using either an AR headset or your smartphone. Users with iPhones and iPads running on iOS 11 can download the Star Wars: Jedi Challenges app for free on the App Store!

Handheld mobile phones: the inventor of the handheld mobile phone, Dr. Martin Cooper, acknowledged the ,a href="http://content.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1677329_1677708_1677825,00.html">communicator Captain Kirk used in Star Trek as his inspiration.

Nike self-lacing sneakers: From the Nike Mag to the Nike Adapt, you can thank 1989’s Back to the Future Part II for Nike eventually designing and releasing a replica of Marty McFly’s self-lacing sneakers almost 30 years later. By taking something from a fiction film to reinvent the conventional lacing system, these have got to be the coolest kicks released by the massive brand.

Second Life: A new world is waiting. The Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) was inspired by the movie The Matrix. And with the number of monthly active users peaking close to a million during lockdowns, it seems that the thrill of the unknown still has thousands hooked.

Facial recognition, self-driving cars, gesture control computing: okay, it might be a bit of a stretch to say all of these concepts originated from Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film ‘Minority Report’. But it was recorded that he did in fact hold a conference with computer scientists and other tech experts to discuss near-future possibilities for technology.

Dogecoin: Created to poke fun at Bitcoin, Dogecoin made use of a once-popular meme and more recently exploded in popularity. Dubbed as the “people’s crypto”, it even has the support of Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, who even promised to take the meme to new heights by planting a physical Dogecoin token on the moon! Gaining cult status, its value rose higher than anyone would've expected, demonstrating the power of the effects pop culture has on tech.

How M1 Stays on Top of the Latest Technology Trends

To keep up with the times, businesses need to recognise that evolution is vital. M1 continues to update how things are done to ensure we stay relevant, and our customers keep up with the latest and greatest trends in technology.

We offer all the latest handsets from the world’s leading manufacturers as well as a range of smart home packages, in addition to lightning-quick fibre optic home broadband deals, mesh routers, and Bespoke phone plans that are fully customisable, so you get the best possible value for money. And with a slew of mobile add-ons to enjoy, you’ll stay up-to-date with the pop culture trends taking over the world by storm!

So, get on board with M1 today!