Media is everywhere. It surrounds us in all possible ways and has become such an integrated part of our lives that it will be difficult to even fathom a life without it and it is a famous saying by Mark Twain ‘Too much of anything is bad’, this sort of gets proven when it comes to the influence that media has on our lives and especially our young generation. The media is playing an important role in the shaping of teenagers’ identity and it is not only limited to their group identity that helps them in their social interaction but it is also playing its part in the development of their individual identity, which is becoming a reason for worry because it is leading the young generation to become monotonous thus sacrificing and sadly depriving the world of their unique and individual characteristics.
Media figures play a huge role in that. The ‘stan’ culture is the new trend of the current time. As per Urban Dictionary, a stan is defined as an overzealous maniacal fan for any celebrity or athlete and this culture is a norm on one of the most used social media sites: Twitter. With the rise of our interaction with social media sites, there has been a change in how people engage with celebrities and while social media has its benefit, one thing that often lands it in a tight spotlight is the stan culture. This is usually known to those who interact with social media on a daily basis and it is a pop culture all on its own with its over exaggerating reactions relating to their idol, their own set of vocabulary and sometimes their aggression and lack of respect towards other people.
One incident is of writer Wanna Thompson who was at the receiving end of the ugly side of this culture when she got a DM from rapper Nicki Minaj who was pretty harsh with her words. The rift did not die down easily as Minaj’s fans, who go by the name of ‘Barbs Army’, started harassing the writer which later exceeded to death threats. It appeared that majority of these hateful messages were from the stans who in their mind believed they were only defending their ‘Queen’ and they believed it was their duty as stans to defend their idols regardless of the harm it is causing others.
Stans have existed before but it is the penetration of media, especially social media into our lives that it has gotten so ugly. Because of the anonymity and the reach of social media, it becomes easier for people to harass and cyber bully as they are exposed to fewer consequences. For example, how can you arrange a restraining order for an anonymous individual who has various accounts dedicated to an idol to show their love for them? And while it may be argued that it is not the celebrities that force these fans to act that way, sometimes they don’t also do enough to stop them because it is them who have the power to build or ruin your career.
Music has become an integral part of our lives and plays a role in the development of children and adolescents. It is readily available through various means and while it has its benefits, there is a downside to it too. Research on popular music suggests that music effects children’s social interaction, their personal lives, their moods and their behaviour and these effects are turning to be a major concern with music lyrics becoming more explicit over the years in their mention of drugs, violence and sex. As with lyrics, music videos tend to have the same effect with research suggesting that long time exposure to drug abuse, sexual stereotypes and violence results in changing behaviour and attitude of the young audience.
With these people having a vast global presence and a world-wide following, they are giving out messages and using words that are now being used as a common word, for example, this is a chorus from a popular song by Nicki Minaj that has 110,501,272 views on YouTube and this is how it goes:
“You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe”
The number of views suggests how popular this song became and for some because their idol was saying a word like that, it became a okay for them to do it too. The same can be said for an increase in the use of swear words among teenagers and that is because of their inclusion in not only music but also other media outlets as using it profusely becomes a cool factor for many.
While that being said, there are many media figures who have been really influential and have used their power to bring attention to issues that need to be highlighted and one among many is Emma Watson, who is heavily associated with the HeforShe campaign that has drawn massive attention to the deeply persistent gender inequality all over the globe.