I have not researched this statement, but it’s my guess that the internet is the thing that’s had the single biggest influence on pop culture over the past 15 years.
Take Twitter. If you think a thing, and it might have the slightest amount of controversy, maybe you’d better think twice before you post it on Twitter. PARTICULARLY if you’re a celebrity.
The internet when it started is not the animal it is today. When it started, everyone was stationed at a computer, in their office or at home and not everyone had one of those. I can remember in 1997 sneaking into my employer’s company showroom, because the computer in there had the internet. I’d never been on the internet before. I kept my eye open for any witnesses while surreptitiously getting onto the internet. Can’t really say the experience was overwhelming, but a few years later, I had the internet in my own living room – with a noisy, dial up modem – even then didn’t really dare to do as much as I wanted to because of the ever increasing telephone bill. But by then, most people had email, and that was already an advancement. Now, instead of having to hand write a letter to your friend in America, you could type up and send an email.
Soon after this came the advent of Skype – instant messaging. Now you could sit at your computer, and while you were doing it, talk to anyone across the world. With technological advances flooding us even more – social media (does anyone remember MySpace?), we are now just about at any moment contactable from anywhere in the world. We have mobile phones which sometimes seem to forget that they are telephones with all the other things they include – including being permanently connected to the internet via these wherever you go. In addition, we walk around with things like tablets – it hit home to me when I was sitting at a coffee shop with a customer and he connected there and did an internet transfer to pay me, which I knew he had, because my cellphone received an SMS.
Movies, TV and music today are reflective of the technology and the internet we use in our every day lives. In the latest Superman, the biggest threat to security is where an article is leaked over the internet after the editor had requested a change. Far cry from the original Superman when the paper took hours to go to press.
Things get released on Youtube and become international sensations. (Justin Bieber was discovered on Youtube, and Psy released the song Gangnam Style on Youtube).
80s artist Rick Astley enjoyed a resurgence of popularity because of an internet meme which was known as Rickrolling. Essentially, internet users enticed others to click on a link by telling them that the link would take them to something they were interested in – and the link took them to a Rick Astley Youtube video.
Many people no longer go into a music store to buy a CD – they’ll simply download their music from iTunes. It’s almost possible, with the internet, to never leave your house – as internet shopping can be done too.
One area where the internet has had a HUGE influence is internet based radio and TV. It’s now possible to listen to most radio stations solely on the internet, and many TV stations as well.
Pandora Music Radio is the next big thing (already pretty big) – you can have your own personalised radio station (at least, if you live in America, Australia or New Zealand) You enter your artist and song preferences and it plays music to you based on your preferences.
The internet has had a role to play in the development of language. Words like “emailing”, “skyping”, “surfing the net”, “going online”, etc are all verbs. Even the internet “shorthand” the people use to communicate across the net has influenced language development, with words like “lolling”, and “ROFL”, creeping into communication.
The internet is going to take us into the Next Gen.