What is really “Culture” in the 21st Century?

Harold Scott III
Feb 22, 2017 · 4 min read

The word culture is being overused. Yet as much as we hate the word culture the literal term actually does a great job of encompassing the feeling of what we are constantly trying to describe amongst each other. It’s as if we all want the perfect word to describe the social domain that exists between a particular group of people at a particular point in time. This unwritten code that influences the style, trends, and what’s deemed “cool.” The secret approved social code everyone seems to just pick up on. The irony is its almost verbatim the Cambridge Dictionary definition of the word.

What makes it so difficult is the fact that the term “culture” has personal significances to family and tradition. We protect our customs viciously from the fears of appropriation. With these customs being the things that make us unique, we try our hardest to make sure we keep them as guarded as possible. So before we throw the book at culture lets figure out what it should even be defined as.

Excessivism vs Minimalism

Artwork by Scott Richter

I find it crazy how as humans there’s seems to be a direct divide between those who aim to be minimalist and those who aim to be excessive in their lifestyles. Minimalists feed off of creeds of living a simple life and avoiding complex and materialistic ideals. Excessivism is a kind of new movement that embraces the abundance of things that minimalist reject. While minimalism in my opinion is will one day takeover almost everything aesthetically, I believe right now is the time for excessivism to thrive.

Some people are truly convinced that there are no more art concepts left to explore and that everything is a rebirth of a former movement. So naturally exploring themes of execessivism would be a product of an oversaturated media environment. By living in the moment you realize this is the first time in history where we have so many different mediums, digital technologies, and even resources to be excessive, that maybe that just becomes the culture. From hip-hop stars with big chains, to athletes getting bigger and stronger, to artists using more paint than usual it’s all making up an excessive culture. Music is everywhere. Art is everywhere. There are almost as many fashion labels as people. This is an era of hyper saturation.

Aesthetic Movements

I hate the word buzzword surrounding the term culture right now. It’s too ambiguous and doesn’t do a great job of defining what’s happening around us. We dream so much about the future that we want to influence that we ignore the hands-on influences we contribute to daily.

What we are experiencing right now is an aesthetic movement that combines the lingering of former movements with fresh new concepts. This is where we normally fit the word culture into. While we have own our culture when it comes to food, religion, and family; this ambiguous mix of style, mindset, and perception of beauty that seems to change every few years is really just the aesthetic movement of the time.

Try to Wikipedia the decade 2010s and it’s almost eerie how accurately the decade is defined before it can even be finished. We are cemented in history with the trends we are living right now. Things we take for granted such as the rise of EDM, Indie and Trap music are now permanently synonymous with our culture. It’s no different than when pop took over the 60s. Hipster subculture has influenced this aesthetic period a lot as well with graphic t-shirts and post Urbanist looks. Even cosmetic trends like the beard craze we all feed into is literally happening right now is gonna become attached to this decade for years to come. It’s no different than noting The 70s was known for lone hair, afros, and natural hair trends.

As we get older we’re gonna miss the days and the feelings that it brought upon us and reflect on them with an appreciation we lack right now. We call things a hype and lament the popularity when in actuality it’s just life playing out around us.

Do It For The Culture

Just do it. Create. Build. Copy. Destroy. Do it. Hope it picks up steam and continues to reshape the perception of the movements taking place today. Let the fruits of the movement define the movement. Living today is a prime example of reveling in the chaos. Eventually a younger generation will bring upon a new culture and they will either view our time period with amusement or appreciation. Just as we did with the generations before us.

Harold Scott III

Written by

Content Strategist & Creative Director. Previous: FSU Computer Science Digital Media Specialist. Branding for www.ourogroup.com startup. AR/VR Futurist.

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