People have mixed opinions about pop culture. Yet, society, as a whole, is influenced by pop culture more than they think. Media channels such as the internet, magazines, and TV shows shape their habits, lifestyles, and even goals, whether they know it or not.
For example, when the Kardashians and Jenners rose to popularity, thanks to their reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, many women looked up to them for fashion and beauty advice. They bought products created by Kylie, copied her looks and body by getting cosmetic enhancements done, and so on.
This shift in behavior proves that pop culture leaves a significant impact on our lives. According to Matthew Whitaker, director for the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at ASU, pop culture often becomes a manifestation of what we want. Sure enough, when you see a photo of a supermodel or rich celebrity, you’d often mumble “Goals.”
So, does pop culture benefit our mental health or distort our perception of reality?
What Is Pop Culture?
Popular culture, shortened as “pop culture,” holds different meanings depending on its context of use and the person defining it. Generally speaking, it is the vernacular or culture of a society at a specific point in time. Pop culture is determined by the interactions between people in their daily activities. It also involves fashion choices, slang or buzzwords, greeting rituals, and food.
Considering that, pop culture can also be defined as the societal norms and customs that we normally approve of. Indeed, when we encounter someone who deviates from the norm, we tend to cast them out or call them eccentric. But in actuality, those kinds of people aren’t strange at all, just detached from pop culture.
The Impact of Pop Culture on Mental Health
We interact with pop culture every day. It’s why we developed a certain taste in music, fashion, movies, books, etc. The type or genre of media we consume says a lot about our personalities. It shows what we value as an individual.
However, what we get from the media isn’t always good. That’s where pop culture becomes either beneficial or detrimental. Sexuality, for example, isn’t often represented by the media accurately. Thankfully, pop stars like Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus have spoken up about it and increased awareness about gender spectra and identities.
However, it is unclear whether pop stars are expressing their creative freedom or just acting as the pawns of the media. Regardless, sexuality gets better representation in the media now, allowing young people to be proud of their gender identities.
Mental health itself is another topic that the media used to misconstrue. A lot of comedy movies in the past made fun of people with mental health disabilities. Even some romantic movies and music videos did the same. But thanks to social media, psychologists were given a platform to clear any misunderstandings about mental health issues.
Authors, musicians, and TV and movie producers also released works that delved deeply into mental health illnesses. Examples include Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, 1-800-273-8255 by Logic featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid, and the Korean drama It’s Okay Not to Be Okay.
Therefore, whether pop culture benefits our mental health or not depends on different factors. One of them is how we apply the things we learn from media in real life. If you love pop music, for example, it’s up to how to express that love. You can turn it into a lifestyle, wherein you collect merchandise, like authentic signed memorabilia, CDs, LP records, and apparel. If you’ve got a flair for playing musical instruments, perhaps you can be a musician yourself and name your favorite pop star as your musical influence.
Pop culture will be good for our mental health if we use it to create trends that will improve society. The movies, TV shows, and books representing mental health are good types of media to promote. With them on the mainstream, more people can access them and learn the truth about traumas and other factors affecting mental health. That way, people would no longer assume that poor mental health and violence go hand-in-hand. They would no longer use ableist language like “crazy” when referring to people with a psychological disorder.
Lastly, pop culture encourages conversations, so let’s always seize the opportunity to talk about thought-provoking or positive topics. Let’s refrain from gossiping or spreading misinformation because we read it from an untrustworthy source. Instead, let’s make seeking accurate information a norm and spreading kindness rather than hate and the “cancel culture.” We are in control of the pop culture, so let’s practice this power responsibly.