Has the algorithm chosen your outfit today?
The title of this article seems a bit odd, but allow me to put it into perspective. At 23 years old, whether I am a Millennial or Gen-z-er is up for interpretation. It’s rather interesting, I still feel compelled to wear button-downs and pencil skirts to work, but I rock pink hair. I’d like to think that being on the tail end of the millennial generation and at the beginning of the Gen-z generation. I’ve been able to get the best of both worlds. While I understand 90s sitcom references, I also know what a WAP is.
But even more advantageous has been to grow alongside the rapid expansion of the Internet and social media. Having witnessed the inception of these mediums, I am familiar with them and can more readily use them to my advantage. Older generations, that have not been so lucky, have become victims of Internet scams, miss-use, and the dissemination of miss information or fake news. This concept of an older generation, unfamiliar with a new medium, and falling prey to them is not new! In 1938, the infamous radio reading of “War of the Worlds” by Orson Welles, ignited a county-wide panic as listeners believed we were being attacked by aliens.
While people may scoff at the idea of believing that radio announcement on that fateful night. I can see clearly how mass communication continues to influence us as a society, perhaps not to such an exaggerated degree. We’ve learned to grow cautious of the information shared, yet examples of how communications have influenced us are everywhere. From the music that plays on the radio, to the style of reporting offered by news sites, and even the stylistic qualities of the clothes I am wearing right now (and most likely you too). All of these things have been influenced in some way or fashion by mass communication.
The ways in which the public reacted that night, contributes greatly to our understanding of hypodermic theory. It is a school of thought that ascertains that the media we consume influences us and can even mislead us. I’ve tried to understand ways in which this theory affects me that I may not readily acknowledge. In the scope of my most recent experiences (being homebound for the majority of the last six months). I have consumed more mass media than ever before, and with that have been heavily exposed to
As a result, I can trend how my actions and those of many of my friends and/or colleagues were influenced during these last few months.
A few examples come to mind:
The great toilet paper shortage of March — June 2020. As the COVID 19 epidemic grew, blossoming into the full-blown pandemic we know it to be today, people began to buy stockpiles of toilet paper. Why? Well, we aren’t entirely sure. Anticipating months of being stuck at home seems a good reason to purchase some extra rolls. The empty supermarket shelves were startling. While I complained about the acts of lunacy going on, I also purchased some with the rest of the sheep. As with most people, I feared we would not be able to get more down the line due to the increased demand. I can say (with shame) that I still have not run out of my initial big purchase, which was made six months ago.
Next up, we have mask usage! Wearing a mask while out in public has become the norm for the last few months. While some people have shown resistance, I began wearing it prior to it being mandated. I felt it was a low effort preventative measure, and would help the greater good. Given, I also feared for my own personal safety (and still do). My decision to eventually purchase dozens of masks to coordinate with outfits, I’d like to attribute to my refusal to negate style under any circumstance. Which leads me to my last pop-culture embedded phenomenon.
Although I have jumped on the two aforementioned bandwagons, the fashion atrocity that has become commonplace (oversized graphic T-shirts and biker shorts) has not influenced me. I have traced it’s lineage to a demand for ‘comfy chich’ during the ongoing stay at home orders.
Additionally, I have concluded that while I am open-minded and readily propagate and inhale positive information, I am resistant to negative information. Such as the fear of being held up at home for months on end that would require mountains of toilet paper, or leaving the house wearing the outfit pictured to the left. All jokes aside, being exposed to mass communications and media has an outwardly and perceivable effect on many people. How else would you explain someone willingly wore that outfit if they were not peer pressured to near extinction by the media they were consuming.
Prior to these last six months, my exposure to mass media was more limited than most people. A hectic full-time work and graduate school schedule had kept me sheltered from exposure to many current mass media trends. I was the friend that sent memes that were long expired, and the coworker that wasn’t in the know. Now, I realize that I am as likely as anyone to be exposed to my own “War of the Worlds” scenario, but I am more equipped to identify it as such and act accordingly. I make conscious decisions to verify the information I find online and to get my information from a wide variety of sources to avoid finding myself in information bubbles that could otherwise skew my perception.