Pervasive Popularity
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Politics and Activism

Pervasive Popularity

How does popularity affect our culture?

Pervasive Popularity

"Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world." ~Thomas Carlyle
"Anyone who is popular is bound to be disliked." ~Yogi Berra
"Avoid popularity if you would have peace." ~Abraham Lincoln

Most people think of popularity as being at its height in high school, with cliques and the all-consuming "Breakfast Club" stereotypes. But it doesn't end there. Being popular is something we can analyze in the workplace, upper-level and especially lower-level education, and even in politics. Isn't an election just a popularity contest? There are even popularity contests now with TV singing and dancing competitions, where people call in and vote on their favorite people.

Now, not all of this is necessarily bad, but it does play a major role in our culture. Everything now is about the most popular movie and reality stars and what they are doing at every minute of the day. It shapes our clothing choices, certain actions, and even our entire economy. Modern culture itself is being called "pop" or popular culture.

Aren't the accepted ideas and norms of society often mostly the popular ones? How many times have you done something just because everyone else is doing it? Yes, there could be a complex reason, but if you don't know it, then technically you are following the norms of society. That is generally a neutral thing, such as Americans driving on the right side of the road or the way we tie our shoes. It becomes problematic when a norm hurts someone or is at the disadvantage of someone, such as the wage gap or institutionalized racism.

When people try to change these norms, they can be met with opposition simply because they are changing things from the way they are. Another example of popular opinion being wrong is looking at history, such as incorrect widespread beliefs that the world is flat (neutral) or that slavery and segregation were OK and even sanctioned by God (harmful). By looking at these we can see that ideas being popular certainly does not mean they are right, which explains Donald Trump. Let us all hope that we can see error in popularity soon.

I think the point to this is that just because something is popular doesn't mean it is right, and that we need to decide for ourselves. Whether you were in the popular crowd in high school or not, that status can change throughout your life. And it also means that we need to think critically about the norms in our society. Look at the way things used to be hundreds of years or even decades ago. Many times those sentiments changed because popular opinion changed. And because our world will always be changing, we need to be looking for flaws in the popular culture. We cannot and will never be perfect. However, what is most important is for you to decide what you agree with, and not agree just because it is what everyone else is doing.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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