Modern media cycle takes away from individuality


After “Wednesday” dropped on Netflix, it seemed like everyone was sporting the iconic double braids and dressing in all black while imitating Wednesday’s dry and grim personality. This trend lasted about two weeks before society moved on to the new “it girl,” Alix Earle. Wednesday and Ms. Earle are not the first media figures to do this. 

In recent years, shows like “Stranger Things,” “Outer Banks” and “Euphoria” had viewers copying their aesthetics and personalities in their everyday lives. “Stranger Things” single handedly brought back tons of 80s trends, specifically its summer fashions and music, deeming them “retro” and “cool” by today’s young people. 

“Outer Banks” caused a wave of beach trends because of the show’s coastal scenery, with the “coconut girl” becoming a major aesthetic in the spring and summer of 2020. Beachwear and surfing dominated advertisements and trending clothing. Imitating popular media is nothing new to being a teenager. It seems every generation has certain aesthetics popularized by TV, but teens today are taking it to a new extreme. 

Teens no longer simply enjoy TV shows or celebrities, they try to live just like them. “I often pick up traits from main characters I envy in a show to try and ‘attract’ a lifestyle similar to theirs in my own life,” freshman Hannah Taylor said. This could mean picking up style choices, phrases or the humor of a character. 

“When people adapt personality traits from certain TV shows it can be very harmful in some cases or it can be something subtle, like some changes in style and music taste,” said sophomore Abigail McGuire. This may not seem like a huge problem, but on a large scale society begins to lose individuality.

“If you don’t watch popular media, or the latest shows, you tend to get ostracized from conversations,” McGuire said. Staying on top of what is trending becomes a priority for many girls, whether it is intentional or not. Everyone starts to look the same, and people’s quirks get covered up with the newest products. 

The feeling of needing to fit in controls so many teens’ choices. “I’ve found it hard to be happy with who I am because I’m not living a life as exciting and enviable as those in TV shows,” Taylor said.

“Shows like ‘Euphoria,’ ‘Skins’ and ‘13 Reasons Why’ have encouraged bad personality traits in my life because of the lack of consequences presented in the show,” Taylor said. This presents another problem with the hyperfixation on shows, the constant comparisons to your own life. “I’m constantly being influenced to try and ‘be different’ because blending makes me feel like a background character,” Taylor said. Normal teens are not constantly fighting for their lives or going on extravagant vacations. The tropes presented in so many of these shows or the lifestyles celebrities lead are impossible for an average high schooler to attain. 

Pop culture is a way to connect with people with similar interests and create a sense of community. It only becomes a problem when it controls peoples’ lives and destroys individuality. Everyone has something to offer and when the narrative to conform is pushed onto young people their own strengths or beauty gets snuffed out. 

Cartoon by ReaganRosenbaum

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