Dynamic Culture: Music And Generation Y – Our Long(ish), Strange, Trip

In 1998, I bought my first and last CD. I had received a gift card to Borders for my birthday, and, as an eight year old who thought he was too cool to read a book, I ventured into the store’s now defunct music section. I remember being oddly intimidated by the whole experience. The endless catalog of artists, the increasingly strange album covers, the people milling around with weird goatees, tattoos, earrings. The girl at the checkout counter, even now I could recall the pungent smell of cigarettes. I remember her scoffing at my choice, clearly at the age where she thought her music was better than my music. I was eight years old, but it was clear that her music was still much better than mine, and that everyone should know about it. “$10 for one song?” She didn’t actually say that. But if she did say that, she wouldn’t’ve been totally wrong. I had purchased Tubthumper by Chumbawamba, solely for what I had dubbed the “I get knocked down song.” The CD probably stayed in my walkman (remember those?) for over a year, and quite honestly, I could not tell you the name of any other title on that album. So if you really think about it, I had spent $10 on one song A year later, and I was faced with pretty much the same predicament. This time though, I didn’t but a CD at Borders. Instead, I listened to my one hit wonder of choice Blue, by Eiffel 65, on my computer. Via Napster. For free. I listened to many a song on Napster. And...

Dynamic culture: Now, the Protests Are (Kind Of) Occupying Universities

The occupy movement has spread its decentralized yet potent wings, expanding onto college campuses. While I previously argued that this movement is not definitively generation based or rooted in collegiate protest  (a la the anti-war demonstrations of the 60’s), the movement’s spread to the University represents a significant chapter in Occupys turbulent young history. Said NPR’s Beenish Ahmed, “The movement and its encampments are proving to be a challenge for administrators at some schools.” While the movement has seen presence at some of the nation’s top schools such as UCLA, UC Berkley, and even Harvard, it still doesn’t appear as if Occupy is being truly embraced by students at our nation’s most academically inclined institutions. For example, Washington DC’s Georgetown University, often a behemoth in terms of political activity, has been criticized by other DC schools for their lack of involvement in the protests. At Berkley, the camp was recently raided and torn down by authorities.  Even Harvard, despite acknowledging Occupy’s presence, has added their own twinge of exclusivity to their encampment. Following protests in Harvard Yard last week, University officials closed off the yard’s gates so that only student’s with University ID’s were allowed to enter. One percent much? I mentioned last time that GenY is not a protest generation, and that Millennials generally appear to accept the roles of the institutions they associate themselves with. While Occupy’s shift to college campuses may represent a larger trend in the role of the University in relation to the current economic crisis (College tuition nowadays is really cheap. Right?!?!), it appears that those involved in the protests on many of our...

Two nations divided by consumer etiquette

Two nations divided by a common language. This well-worn phrase was repeatedly cited to me before we moved from the UK to New York and a lot after we landed. With this phrase ringing in my ears, friends at home would reassure me the shared language would make it easier for us to settle in the US. It seems Brits feel familiar with US culture thanks to the plethora of exported TV shows and movies that influence our small green island. However what’s depicted on the big or small screen or through the behavior of American celebrities does not quite capture the nuances that differentiate British and American consumers. Often, differences between the two countries are trivialized and boiled down to accent, the odd word or communication styles; compare the stereotypical deference of the Brits with the boldness of Americans. Until I moved here, I hadn’t fully appreciated just how different the two countries are when it comes to cultural context and related consumer behavior. Like many Brits I’d visited the States a few times before we decamped here, but getting a cultural impression whilst on a brief business trip or holiday is very different to living somewhere new that requires one to adapt in order to communicate more effectively and form enduring relationships As a naïve new American consumer there seemed three main hurdles to overcome. Firstly, I had to learn a new consumer vocabulary – I remember asking a bemused looking shop assistant in Target where the Wellie Boots were. She stared back at me blankly until I described them as plastic boots you wear in the...

Dynamic culture: #OWS, Occupy DC & Gen Y

Fast Company recently provided a solid breakdown of the demographics behind the Occupy Wall Street movement. Fast Company: OWS stats. Here’s some important things many people I’ve spoke with don’t seem to know: 26.7% of those participating are enrolled in school, and only 10% are full-time students. I was surprised by these numbers as they indicated OWS is not a student-led movement by any means, which provides a strong contrast to the anti-Vietnam protest of the late 60’s. Also it’s important to note, there doesn’t appear to be a strong university presence by any means, not only numbers wise but also location wise, as no protests are taking place at colleges or on university campuses. A third of protesters are over 35. While I couldn’t find a stat of how many are under 30, this was pretty striking to me, in the sense that this doesn’t appear to be an age specific movement. Therefore, despite what some of the articles I’ve read are saying, Generation Y is not driving the movement in any way whatsoever. At Onesixtyfourth, we’ve talked about GenY’s preponderance for conformity in the sense that we are not a riot-induced, crazily protesting generation. So to see if this held true I did some mother-in-law research about OWS and spoke to some friends to learn about their thoughts and involvement. There were essentially three types of responses: It’s stupid and it’s terrible and they should just go out and get jobs instead of complaining. (I should note that these comments are from Georgetown students and a lot of them are probably considered as coming from families in the...

Dynamic culture: Gatsby Elites

All Millennials are not alike.  And, amongst us there exists a select group of individuals, from select geographic pockets (often suburbs of New York, Boston, Philadelphia DC, South Florida, Bay Area, Los Angeles) that I’d like to label as Gatsby Elites. It might not surprise you that many members of this group are privately educated for high school and go on to study something finance or economics related at highly prestigious, often private universities. Their families are generally upper-middle class or higher socioeconomically and as a group they tend to be racially homogenous (Caucasian). If at a Greek school, they often join the fraternities and sororities with the most influential reputations, which in reality is just a nicer way to acknowledge that socio-economic segregation is still alive and well. If attending school with a strong bar culture, they often have the most expensive fake IDs that enable them to get into “tougher” bars as underclassmen. Now, to really make it sound like I’m painting a stereotype that’s been depicted in many films and TV shows from Animal House to Cruel Intentions to Gossip Girl, they are attractive, both physically and in terms of social status The Social Network/Henley Sequence, and date and have sexual relationships mostly with those who are also labelled as physically attractive - arguably a defining element of social status in college. In many cases, the “betches betcheslovethis” in this group gravitate towards hanging out with athletes, particularly lacrosse players. Due to their perceived superiority, they have a strong sense of entitlement, which sometimes leads to a disregard for general rules as well as erratic and...

Dynamic culture: The rise of the #hashtag

The hashtag, which started out as a twitter-centric device to spur interactive conversation around a common theme or topic, has transcended its original purpose and arguably become incorporated into GenY’s vernacular as a communicative meme. Although the hashtag has no functional use on Facebook, it’s now a popular way to underscore topics, moods, and general sentiments, in other words, enhance the value of the phrase or expression that lies within the #hashtag. Some examples: I can’t wait to lead the team to another victory next week as captain. #wednesdayblues Well that sucked, but it’s over with! #LSAT My theories: -Since hashtags were originally used to rally around trending topics or events (i.e, #Cairo, #RIPMichaelJackson), the obscurity of certain hashtags juxtaposed with the functional purpose of them gives an illusion that something like #livetweetingpoliticaltheologyessay is an important, trending issue. They also add an element of humor and cultural relevancy that couldn’t be accomplished without the hashtag. -Because twitter is not as widely used as Facebook, tweeting can still indicate that someone is progressive and an early adopter. Using the hashtag, a special feature of twitter, implies that you know the medium well, which further implies some sort of above average social media prowess. Following, a person who incorporates hashtags into conversation is a progressive person. -They simply add color and personality to an otherwise boring sentence. A good example of this is the “oh, good thing i’m still on fall break! #questionable.” Intuitively, the hashtag simply makes the sentence come to life more. Interestingly, hashtags have caught the eye of Google+, which has incorporated them into their UI so that...
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