Free «The Fear of Insignificance» Essay Sample


Popular culture has always greatly affected the way, in which individuals behave and view themselves to the extent that they have lost their identity and adopted the lifestyles portrayed by celebrities. The reasons behind it vary from one individual to another resulting in people abandoning their own lifestyles, which they have been following before. This popular culture also makes individuals be flooded and bombarded from all directions by means delivering new lifestyles to living rooms, schools, workplaces, bedrooms and every area of social life. Every aspect of life, whether it is music, fashion, literature, media and even celebrities themselves, influences the way, in which an individual behaves. These have surrounded people and have become part of their top priorities in life, often making them love the culture and worship it. The desire to live and look like celebrities has resulted in enslaving individuals and always comes with costs making people forget the most important things in life.

Effects of Global Celebrity Culture

Research on this issue has not been conclusive, but the domination of popular culture in today’s society has effects on the changing trends in individual’s behavior. In the case of teenagers, it affects how they think about themselves, associate with peers and express characteristics of their maturation. In the latter process, teenagers start developing self-definition. It is a stage, at which an individual starts seeing the self. The formed image is highly influenced by personal choices, which in turn are affected by images and associations, which individuals glean from popular culture on the daily basis, as they interact with the environment, which feeds them with things related to pop culture (Irwin & Gracia, 2007). It is arguable to the extent, to which this influences an individual’s behavior. For example, if a person listens and follows gangsta rap, it will not directly result in him or her becoming a gangster or identifying himself or herself with such self-definition. Though there is an argument that pop culture affects individuals, but the question is to what extent?

 Nothing conclusive has been reached. Culture determines a benchmark, under which individuals pin their self-definition, and in many cases they follow ways of behavior of various celebrities and stimuli that they see in pop culture. Self-definition is intrinsically associated with self-esteem and confidence. These are two critical components of a healthy disposition of young individuals during maturation and adulthood (Irwin & Gracia, 2007).

Popular culture has an undeniable effect on how the general society perceives itself. It is a mass culture, which cannot be identified with any particular group of individuals, as it transcends across any barriers of race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexuality, ability, religion and social class. As individuals adapt to pop culture, they lose the self, formed on the basis of socialization from their birth, and start becoming other beings often adopting new icon’s ways of life. They lose their minds, as they try to be like celebrities by thinking like them, and identifying themselves with people different from those, with whom they have associated before. These new motivator is what drives an individual to do certain things in a new manner. Such people may not understand the real meaning of self-esteem that every human being is created in a unique way, and that one’s identity has to be kept different.

However, when examining this mass culture, a balance has to be kept between how the society affects the way, in which culture is constructed, and how popular culture influences the way the way, in which individuals view themselves, and shapes individual’s ideologies. To illustrate this idea of the society as an affecter of pop culture and as the one being affected by it, a genre of magazines targeted at young women should be examined. Publications are created as the representation of adolescent females. In reality, they have a huge influence on the ways, in which the youth view and construct certain social ideas. A magazine shapes, regulates and defines young women’s perceptions of femininity, sexuality and romance. On the other hand, it is a woman publication written by majorly women, who mold beliefs and actions into those, which reinforce female subordination through the traditional standards of the masculine society. It means that popular culture is influenced by the society too, as people interact in their everyday activities to develop a style of dressing, language slang to be used, greeting rituals and food that they eat.

Sources of Pop Culture

Celebrities affect people everyday lives. They are literally everywhere, shown on television, doing music, advertisements, movies, participating in sports and even print media, such as newspapers and magazines. With celebrities around in every bit of life activities, individuals, especially the youth, look at them as icons, especially understanding how these celebrities make money. These people set fashion trends for them, lifestyles, and even how to talk or walk. Celebrities are famous people because of what they do, and individuals may wish to be popular to be like them. Hence, stars become a source of inspiration.

During conversations with other people, they always center on a celebrity in a TV show and the latest gossip. Celebrities shape the current world and the future, and are often used to endorse certain products. They may carry the theme of an advert, for example, a sports celebrity can endorse sportswear, food or electronics, and can influence the product performance in the market. As the society identifies with such persons, individuals adopt a particular dress code.

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Fashion refers to high-end clothing, and moreover to the prevailing mode of expressing oneself, though it may or may not apply to anybody else. Therefore, it has to include everything that a person does, talks, walks, dresses, expenditure patterns, a company, products of which he or she purchases, a kind of music people listen to, or a form of entertainment, in which they engage. The youth would like to try everything at their disposal, including modes, in which they express themselves by trying to follow trending fashion. The latter shapes their identity lifestyles, and the mode of expression (Witkin, 2003).

Fashion creates social strata, through which identity comes about, and people select according to tastes and preferences. It is noteworthy to mention that fashion changes with time, as individuals try to look for something new, which can be exciting unlike the present situation, and changes. In the past, tight-fitting clothes, such as jeans, low-rise jeans, hip-hop fashion, designer sunglasses, heavy metal fashion, and fauxhawks, were observed in fashion. Thus, some aspects can return after a spell, for example 80s fashion trends.

As far as literature is concerned, it is about everything people read encountering all aspects of life, namely magazines, TV, journals, books, academic, general, and religious, work notes, Internet, graffiti, billboards, music lyrics, novels and newspapers. Literally, it is everywhere. Literature provides people with information for gaining knowledge, teaching, sharing and entertainment. Some sources can be misleading to an unsuspecting reader, it can be used to waste time, motivate, calm oneself and help in writing. Individuals can use the same piece of literature to infer different things (Witkin, 2003). Thus, there are differences in use.

Analyzing the media, characters in it, namely on TV and movies, can influence to a large extent, the way, in which a person behaves and does things like doing hard drugs, alcohol and smoking. Early drug abuse is greatly influenced by characters. If a celebrity loved by a young person endorses a drink or any other drug, there is a high chance that a young man or woman will experiment on what has been advertised. The media carries music they like, and people will tend not to miss shows with characters they like, or a favorite presenter of a TV or radio program.

In addition to the media, music affects people economically, physically and psychologically. The youth wish to start their own bands and go a long way to become celebrities, or they can sing or listen to music for entertainment. The latter evolves with time from rock‘n’roll and folk songs of the 50s, soul and RnB and ‘Motown’ of the 60s, disco of the 70s, pop music of the 80s, to hip hop and tecno of the 90s. However, in this century, it is predominantly a refinement of the previous works and former stars with some new ones, such as Madonna, Mariah Carey, Justine Timberlake, to name but a few. Changes in kinds of music over time have also influenced how individuals adapt to a new style of music.

Negative Effects of Pop Culture

Observing celebrity characters using drugs and alcohol, an individual, who admires them, can probably be tempted to try and experiment on a drug, even if it is a hard one hoping that it has the same effect as some substances have on idol characters, who take them playing a role in a movie setting.

Crimesdo not occur as isolated incidences. Those committing crimes and violence have had to be socialized in a particular to the point that they have enough courage and technique to commit a crime and make away without being caught. They are likely to repeat it in the future. (Browne & Browne, 2001). Individuals watch movies punctuated with crimes committed by actors using weapons, such as knives, small guns and explosives, or even blunt objects to attack and maim, or even cause fatal consequences. They have been socialized how to commit a crime or even steal someone else’s property without breaking a sweat.

 Immoral behaviors, such as rape, homosexuality, killing, incest, pornography, theft, foul language and poor hygiene, are adopted from pop culture. When an individual watches such misbehaviors, he or she can adopt them thinking that the society does not treat him or her well. Pop culture does not have limits, by means of which it can prevent an individual from adopting wrong traits.

In a bid to be trendy and informed about what is happening in the world associated with popular culture, the youth may find themselves in a trap, where they can spend more than they can earn. Fashion clothing is not cheap, and trying to buy the latest CD from an artist playing in a movie can make an individual overspend unnecessarily. Trying to be in the know can be expensive, and if the youth cannot be trendy and classy as they wish, they can decide to take the shortcut and even commit suicide(Browne & Browne, 2001).

Another negative effect of pop culture is identity crisis. It happens when one tries to copy somebody else’s way of life, but it never satisfies the self and keeps on changing to adapt to other lifestyles. It can cause a psychological breakdown over time, if an individual does not find desired satisfaction. When one fails to do this, it can result in dire consequences(Adorno & Barnstein, 2001).

The next effect is eroding of important culture. Some cultures in the world have beenvery good socializing people to be very important members of the society with a strong basis in the process of imparting virtues, such as love, respect, religion, humility, responsibility and serving humanity. However, pop culture has negative effects often with vices rather virtues. Important foundations of culture can be eroded over time, as there is no young man or woman, who is taking over to preserve them. People are pre-occupied with this culture. Literature and artifacts can be a source of tourism revenue in the future and may be lost in the process.

As far as misplaced priorities are concerned, young people and individuals,who try to adapt to pop culture, may miss what is important in life, unless they wants to get into the industry and make money out of it. Instead of wasting the entire life on investing in what may not give a quality income, one can serve a role in the society that can change humanity. Young people may be pre-occupied with going to clubs to waste money, being on toes to get the latest, but with no value to themselves or the society.

Individuals can idolize somesocial misfitto be their role model, while they are committing crimes. It may result in one doing the same, in case he or she sees an opportunity to misbehave.

Another negative aspect is nurturing a pagan individual/atheist/satanism. Some religious groups do not wish to identify with some pop stars, because they do not believe in religious believes or the way they behave, or try to make money. It can result in forbidding such persons to set foot in worship places. The youth will instead follow these stars and will still buy their atheistic beliefs acquiring some religious virtues. One does not practice virtues, which have not been instilled in the first place(Adorno & Barnstein, 2001).


Thus, it is important to focus on Dr. Stenger’s point of view that individuals need to find self-acceptance actively through self-examination to settle a self-image anchored on personal beliefs and those of the society based on individual’s sexuality and gender. This view is supported in the paper in addition to race, ability, tribe, religion, ethnicity and social class. These factors primarily determine a basis for the formulation of self-image. Through it, an individual can behave in a certain way and belief in a certain manner. A set of behaviors are socialized and reinforced to an individual resulting in the total self that portrays the society at large.

Pop culture has instead replaced these factors with a set of limitless values, which are not a pattern of socializing, but are reinforced to the mind, which sometimes is not ready to process and sieve what is good and bad to make a decision in order to take and discard negative traits. The young mind may not be in a position to resist some of them, but rather take them just like any other thing even not seeing that alcoholism is bad. It is a serious situation that needs to be addressed fast not to allow the society to continue moving in the given direction. There will not be a harmonious society, if the problem is not addressed now.


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