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Wednesday December 8th

From Tinder to Twitter: Cultural shifts of the past decade

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From the integration of social media into everyday life to the political polarization of an entire generation, large cultural shifts were an undeniable characteristic of the 2010s.

In no particular order of relevance or importance, here are some significant culturally transformational moments of the past decade.

Social Media: Vine (2013)

Vine. I genuinely don’t think I’ve gone a solid two weeks in my post-middle school existence without experiencing Vine in some way, shape or form. Whether it be that one friend whose personality consists exclusively of Vine references and "The Office," or that person at the kickback who drunkenly suggests we watch compilations of the same 50 or so Vines, the small, bite-sized references became sort of a social commodity. 

They were an immediate way to inform the people around you of your internet culture savviness, and were an inoffensive way of bonding that brought young teenagers together.

However, due to the absolutely horrible overuse of the references, many have seeped a bit into cringe territory, and need to be phased out. Please do not say “Yeah, I sure hope it does,” every single time we pass a "Road Work Ahead" sign. We get it, Mary. You’ve seen the Vine. We all have.

Vine marked a shift from traditional pop culture references, from movies, TV shows, etc., to a world of niche, self-made quotes that anyone had the potential of being responsible for, and we’re still seeing the effects today. Being in the loop no longer means seeing the latest movies and keeping up with the Kardashians; it means knowing the latest twitter formats and keeping a rolodex of reaction videos.

Broadway: Hamilton (2015)

(Yes, I know this is probably much less relevant to you if you aren’t into theater. However, I don’t care! I am and this is my column so I’m gonna talk about it ok!)

Hamilton is one of the most revolutionary musicals of all time, but not necessarily for entirely positive reasons. One the one-hand, it was huge win for Broadway diversity and representation, featuring a historically white story told by a cast and crew of color, and defeated the traditional image of a hit Broadway musical. However, as Hamilton’s popularity grew and ticket prices skyrocketed, there started to be a clear divide between the artists on stage and the audiences. 

With tickets peaking at over $1000 for cheap seats, Hamilton’s primary audiences consisted mostly of old, rich white people, and not the theatrically underrepresented people the story set out to inspire. In addition, the show’s incredible success sent signals to entertainment monoliths that there was money to be made on Broadway. 

The following Broadway seasons presented loads of adapted cash grabs, including Frozen, Mean Girls, SpongeBob, Beetlejuice, King Kong, etc. with no end in sight. Broadway was seized by heightened corporate greed, and we’re seeing less and less original content in the medium. Not to say some of these shows don’t have redeeming qualities, but their monetary motivations are very transparent.

Dating: Tinder (2012)

While Tinder was not the first app of its kind, it was certainly the most influential in terms of shaping modern dating culture. To even begin to connect with someone, both parties have to approve of each other’s physical appearance. Personality, accomplishments, tastes, etc. are not the priority in the world of swipe culture. 

On a campus setting, this creates a number of awkward encounters. When you’re walking across campus and make eye contact with someone that you matched with but didn’t message? Yikes. No one really knows what to do there. You both know each other. But you don’t actually. Do you wave? Smile? Just act like you didn’t see them and pretend to be looking at something in the distance? Who’s to say?

Even if you do start a conversation on Tinder, the person can drop out at any time and never speak to you again with little to no emotional consequences because you’re just a face on a screen. And, you have equal power to do the same. It’s one big world of inconsequential and convenient pseudoromantic interaction, and has taken over the way in which couples meet. Sometimes it works out for people. I’m happy for y’all. 

Discourse: ok boomer (2019)

While more of a recent phenomenon, I think this beautifully simple dismissive, often-tweeted phrase marks a broader shift in cross-generational discourse. The ‘boomers’ in question are appalled at the notion of having their arguments entirely dismissed and ignored due to their age. It is a wonderfully ironic taste of their own bitter medicine.

The phrase is marking the end of countless attempts to rationally discuss with those who just won’t listen. A lot of young people have lost interest in trying to ‘bridge the gap’ between themselves and aging conservatives from an ideological perspective. They’re riled up, organizing, and ready to take matters into their own hands.

This is quite a perfect end to the decade. As crippling student loans, unaffordable health care, and a dying planet become part of the collective Gen Z experience, and the political divides get worse and worse, this marks the tipping point.

Young people are saying: “We’ve tried to reason with you. You won’t listen. We’re done.” How will this turn out? Stay tuned in the 2020s.

arts@dailytarheel.com

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