Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Culture: What We Can Do About It

Now, let us briefly turn our attention back to the culture around us again. After all, the culture around us affects all of us in an important way, and we have concluded before that it currently has the harmful effect of forcing people into premature aging.

Can the culture change? Yes and no. The reality is that the entertainment industry operates based on profit, like any other industry. If the market situation does not change, the marketing strategies of that industry is not likely to change either. If we want its message to be inclusive of everyone, then we must get more 20-somethings, 30-somethings and 40-somethings to attend concerts and buy related stuff. Here we have a vicious cycle situation. Most of the very visible popular cultural icons out there today do not appeal much to people over 25, as a result of the industry's current focus on the ultra young end of the market. Who are they going to rally around, whose concerts will they be going to then, even if we can get enough over 25s to realise that it is in their cultural interest to increase their participation in the entertainment industry's market? I guess this will take a while to sort out, unfortunately. Therefore, don't expect things to suddenly change next year, for example.

Meanwhile, even if the culture 'out there' cannot be changed, you can change the culture 'around you'. After all, we are not generally affected by culture 'out there', we are affected by culture 'around us'. Culture that is 'out there' but not that much 'around us' may as well be like the culture in Thailand or Japan to us - it may enter our consciousness and lives in some ways, but in the end it is distant and foreign, and does not have much of an effect on our lives.

So how do we change the culture around us? Firstly, we have to realise that that whilst the entertainment industry does affect the most visible parts of our popular culture to a very great degree, it does not control ALL culture. Even if some of the currently most visible stuff does not sit well with us, there is plenty more to choose from. We retain the right to choose what comes into our lives, and dismiss what is irrelevant. If the most visible parts of popular culture send the message that we are too old to be cool, or that it's time to give up and 'settle down', then so what? It's not MY culture. Just like we do not choose to be around frenemies who harm us more than they do good, we can choose not to be indoctrinated by a culture that sends out harmful messages. That doesn't mean you need to start 'living under a rock'. It just means that you need a balance of messages in your life. You are inevitably going to be affected by the distorted 'you are old' message out there, so make sure you have enough of the 'you can dream big and there's more than enough time to make it' messages in your life. It's like how you need enough healthy food in your life to balance out the junk food you inevitably eat over the course of your days, or how you need enough days of relaxation to balance out the inevitably stressful ones.

Speaking about the part of culture that is not backed up by the entertainment industry, here's something for you to think about? How about that favourite artist of yours from 10 years ago? Haven't heard of them for the past 5 of so years? It's likely that they are still making music somewhere out there, but have been forced to go independent. Seek them out and you are likely to find that they are still actively making new stuff. The culture of 'the past' actually lives on, you see, even if it's been forced into premature irrelevancy from an industry point of view.