Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Culture Lag

   Have ever noticed that the world doesn't tend to work in the same way as it does in the media? Take high school for instance.  Based on any movie or TV show you may watch about high school life, you may be lead to believe that there's a rigid caste system for popularity, with the cheerleaders and football hotshots ruling the school with an iron fist.  You may be lead to believe that every student falls neatly into an easily identifiable clique; jocks, nerds, goths, etc, and only keeps friends within that specific group. All these perceptions about high school life, in my experience at least, are completely false.  There is no real hierarchy of popularity, no social royalty.  All the cheerleaders I knew were very nice an approachable (actually, it tended to be the geeky girls who were the most stuck up and superficial, but I digress).  There were no well-defined social groups; everyone just had their own little list of people that they were friends with.
   And yet, throughout much of my time in high school, I still tended to believe that social politics in high school functioned like they did in the movies, despite the fact that I could see for myself that this wasn't true.  This might be how high school used to be, but I was seeing it as how high school currently was.  Basically, I believed these facts about high school to be currently true, because they were previously true.  It's a phenomenon I call Culture Lag.
   Here's how I think it works: the people of one generation experience something (for example, high school) in a certain way.  They then go on to produce media which portrays things how they experienced.  The next generation then watches that media and begins to think that things work how they are portrayed in it, rather than how they actually experience it.  Thus, people are basing their perceptions of reality on other people's (previous) observations, rather than their own.

1 comment:

  1. I hung out with the geeky people in high school and most of the time, at least at my high school, the only reason they might seem stuck-up was because they were scared of going outside the social group to talk to people.