Many people ask – ‘what is lifestyle’ or ‘what is the American lifestyle’ to be more precise. The very essence of the “American Dream” is the belief that anyone can make his or her dreams come true, independent of where they were born. Those who grew up in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s can attest to the revolution that has taken place in American culture. The greatest driving force behind that change is Technology.
I don’t think any of us can imagine a world without the internet, or a world of technology in which everyone and anything is available with the touch of a button. I know many of us have read a similar statement somewhere at some point and rolled our eyes. Let us think for a moment; visualize a world without technology. Is that even possible?
Yet, it was a reality at one time.
Before the days of instant text messages and live streams, only computer scientists could use the first computers. Phones could not be carried anywhere, and the first cell phones ever were sold (Nokia) in 2000, about 17 years ago. It has changed and it is still changing the way we live. So, let me ask you again, what is lifestyle – the American lifestyle in the 21st century? How have the different lifestyle categories changed?
Availability of Information
Technology has given us access to information like never before and redefined what lifestyle is nowadays. We can use Google to type anything that comes into our mind and find pages and pages of information, much like a library, except that we do not need to make a physical effort to get up and find different books in order to find one that has information. We just need to click in order to find information.
While this means that, anyone with internet broadband has access to almost an infinity of resources, there is a downside to this.
An article in Business Insider has pointed out that while it is important for us to have multiple resources that help us choose whatever information aligns according to our needs, the internet often “drags our attention in a million places.” I mean, all of us have struggled with the constant ping of notifications, which gives us minute-to-minute updates of what is happening around us in real time. Still, we have to choose what to ignore and what to read. Otherwise, we find ourselves procrastinating. That is what is lifestyle for the 21st century American, struggling with the availability of information surrounding us.
The Rise of Social Media
I think pretty much all of us know what Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But, in case you do not know; they are platforms where you make an account and can upload pictures, videos, and more importantly your thoughts. Why is a collection of pictures and videos of random people so important? Simply put, it has created a completely new lifestyle category on its own.
It is more than just a platform to share one’s life with and for some, it is a means to show what “lifestyle” looks like or simply by making one’s own way of living the lifestyle other aspire to have. It is the endorsement of a way of living.
Many companies and celebrities sell their products as a necessity in a person’s way of living. The Kardashian sisters are very famous for using social media to sell their products. Although, Social Media is not just used to showcasing one’s extravagant lifestyle; it is also often used to inspire others.
The #livestyle is a very popular tag people often used to tell lifestyle news stories. With this tag, users usually tag inspiration quotes such as “Stay positive,” pictures of places or food that has made the user happy. There is even a twitter account dedicated to tweeting about livestyle if you want to find out what it is. It is by no means the only user dedicated to inspiring others; there are millions of accounts on the internet. The only thing that one needs to do is research. In fact, the very best lifestyle blogs are by people who wish to inspire others.
Another way social media is used for is as an outlet for world news, national news, fashion, lifestyle news stories, and pretty much every other thing that you might imagine. Many websites such as blogs advertise their articles on social media, leading to a competition between blogs for views, for example, lifestyle blogs compete to see which the best lifestyle blog is. Why is this? Because, in a world where people look more into their social media accounts that other websites, using them to advertise products as a necessity and a way of living is crucial to selling.
Social Media and Awareness
The other aspect Social Media is often used as is to bring forth change. In the past, there were spaces in which people could share their thoughts but that was often with a limited number of people but with the invention of social media, our thoughts are open to a larger number of people. We can let them know what we think.
It has completely changed what is lifestyle as we know it. Not just by making it a space where we can connect with the rest of the world but also, by becoming a platform for protesting and bringing forth social awareness and change. According to Journalism when the Arab Spring was happening, people used their Twitter accounts to let them know their thoughts we had people telling us the things they were suffering in real time. At the same time, they were also key in mobilizing and organizing groups of protesters, especially in Egypt. They created a space for people to let their thoughts be known.
What is Lifestyle without Social Media in the 21st century?
Regardless of the advances in technology and lifestyle of this era, it is not an excuse for hurting others. However, cyber bullying, and online harassment is very common in the world of the internet. With the rise of the internet, there is also the rise of anonymity. That is, anyone can make an account and do not need to show their face, it is not a rule.
It is partially why more and more people can state their opinion with more ease. The downside is that this anonymity can be harmful, especially if used to attack other people on the internet. Abusive comments, threats, revealing the personal information of someone else to the public, unwanted sexual commentary, sexual harassment online, they are all consequences of the internet and unfortunately, they are becoming part of the lifestyle in this era. Because this is a sensitive topic, here I have two links by cyber bullying and the Candian Government, which tell you more about it and what steps you can take to keep yourself safe from it.
Fashion and Lifestyle
Every era has their own way to tell us what is lifestyle for those living in that time. For example, the 70’s was all about unisex clothing, blue jeans, miniskirts and pants and suits with masculine edges for women joining the workforce. The 80’s was all about bright colors, crop tops, power dressing, chunky heavy accessories, and heavy makeup. The 90’s were all about minimalism, plain t-shirts and relaxed sweaters, grunge music and fashion became a norm with darker colors becoming more fashionable.
The 2000s was tunic dresses, giant belts, capri pants, ballet flats and halter tops along with a fusion of styles from different decades. Each era has seen fashion updates, for spring 2017 the trends were are waist cinchers, white dress shirts, sleeve slits, stripes for this spring according to Elle.
While Makeup trends have always been changing one thing that not many pay attention to is, nail fashion. According to a lifestyle news story in Mashable, originally, short and clean nails were a symbol of luxury. Ever since the invention of nail polish in 1932, pointy nails and half-moon manicure which essentially consisted of the tip of the nail painted with clear polish whereas the inside was red.
During the 40’s and 50’s, completely painted red nails with an almond shape started becoming popular. During the 70’s and 80’s long shiny oval-shaped nails were and when the French manicure square shaped nails and “squoval” shaped nails started becoming popular. Still, natural short nails were also popular. During the 2000s, bedazzled nails were popular with neon colors and studded jewels.
Nowadays coffin and stiletto styles are popular as well as oval and almond shapes for nails. As for color, it is pretty much up to the wearer’s choice especially now that there are a wide variety of color palettes available. Another trend is popular is the DIY nail art. Channels and tutorials catering to all types of audiences those who are amateurs and those who are professionals, everyone can try their hand at DIY nail art. Anyone can check a tutorial if they do not have very fancy tools. As for the fashion updates for 2017 two striped nails, metallic nails, tangerine and toffee nails according to Elle.
Parenting and Modern Lifestyle
Parenting is perhaps one of the lifestyle categories that have seen the greatest amount of change. It has to do with social reform. In today’s world, it is increasingly common for mothers to be full-time workers and earning money.
According to the stats by Pew Research Center, there are 8.6 million single working mothers and 5.1 million married working moms in the US. In an article of Forbes Kelly Phillips, highlights the benefits of a working mother which is increased household income, which helps her invest more in the things her children want such as “summer camp, sports and rehearsals” and while the author says “could we survive without my income? Of course, we could. Would we want to? I’m not so sure.”
Today, understanding what is lifestyle and parenting involves both parents. It is very different from what lifestyle was just a few decades ago when it was a tradition for women to be homemakers and men to be breadwinners.
With working mothers becoming a norm today, women pursue their careers in various industries. They do not have to give up their dreams to raise their children. This brings us to the other side of the coin, fatherhood.
Fatherhood has changed beyond who has to do the dishes (I mean, nowadays father also change the diapers of their children). The way fathers present themselves to their children is changing. In an article for ABC News, we see the stories of fathers stepping into roles that they traditionally do not have to face. Fathers do not have to be as strict and distant figures any longer. Instead, fathers are just as loving as mothers are.
10 to 15 years ago, it was not uncommon for men to pick up women from their houses, and pay for the date. But now that internet has developed, the dating arena has changed completely from applications like Tinder and Grindr to find a potential dating interest, there is also a significant change in the rules of dating even marriage.
Before couples used to date and get married soon enough but today that has changed. According to Brides.com the average age of marriage is 30 years old for women and 32 years old for men 8 years older when compared to the 1970’s. Nowadays, living together before getting married is increasingly common, having children with your girlfriend and not having plans to get married is common, same-gender marriage is also becoming common now. It has been legalized in many parts of the world. That is what is lifestyle today. These are things that would be frowned upon if this were about 20 years ago.
While there are many differences again, primarily because of technology some things have not changed like prom, school dances, nerds, geeks, cheerleaders, and football teams. While a lot of these things almost ingrained in American culture, a few things have changed. What is lifestyle today? Nowadays is diversity, fewer drugs consumption, and protected sex.
Statistics say that 54% of high school students are Caucasian compared to 1980 when they were 79%, now there are 17% African American students when in 1980 they were 11%, Hispanic students now make up 21% when before they were 6.3%. Before there were 1.3 of Asian Pacific/Islander students now there is 5%.
More diversity means that children can be enriched with different cultures and perspectives and grow up to be more fair and tolerant. According to Vox, teen pregnancy has reduced considerably too. In 1991 27.5% of students smoked, in 2016 only 10.8% do. Teens get less pregnant by 63%. In 1991, 6.2% of teens gave birth in 2015 it was 2.5%. The use of a condom in 1991 was 46.2% and in 2016, it was 59.6%. All in all, statistics are pointing towards more favorable conditions.
Teens Embrace Diverse Cultures
Beyond numbers, teens nowadays are embracing a wide variety of things, not just technology. They are embracing a variety of things from different cultures such as anime, manga, kpop, novels from authors of different nationalities. While all of this might seem irrelevant at first sight, it is actually a great indicator of how far youth has come in accepting different cultures and even celebrating them.
All these lifestyle categories have seen incredible changes in four decades; we have explored what is lifestyle and how it has changed. Is this new lifestyle better? Well, it remains to be seen. While there have been great advances. Like with every great step taken towards a better country, all of us have to make a significant contribution to it and well, so far it seems we are doing it!
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