Shaping of our Culture through Social Media, Celebrities & ‘Influencers’ - by Nur Us Sahar Kamran

There have been many notable times in this year alone when a comment on our ‘culture’ and ‘norms’ by a celebrity or influencer has raised a loud controversy throughout the media. Netizens are known for their infamous comments on celebrity posts asking ‘is this our culture??’, so it makes us question our culture. Why, oh why, is it important for our celebrities and other public figures to portray it correctly?

As we raise this question it is important to draw the line between religious beliefs and Pakistani culture. Although in reality, this line is faint, it exists visibly enough for us to understand that religious beliefs do not equal Pakistani culture.

It is said that in a developed world, media is a tool used for the spread of culture. We are witnesses to this as we watch dramas and movies portraying ways of life that mirror our own. An example of this spread of culture would be the love Pakistani’s have for tea, there is barely a household in the country that doesn’t frequent the hot beverage. Some would say that morning and evening tea sessions have become a part of our culture, and this is reflected in our media where drinking tea is depicted equally as often to the point where it has been joked about.

Trends these days are spreading like a forest fire- the good, the bad, and the annoying. Equally often it is questioned whether they are in line with our culture. Celebrities wearing sleeveless tops and skirts above their ankles are often dragged for their ‘disrespect’ and refusal to adhere to Pakistani cultural norms and introduce international trends. However, it is important to note that it is the trends that change the culture. Five years ago feminine beauty was equated with fairness and now the fight through international trends has allowed those standards to be questioned and invoke pride at the tan of our south Asian skin tones. Of Course, it is a change that requires time and those old standards are still prevalent in parts of society but it is media portraying such mindsets in a negative light that allows such change. Now antagonists are shown to make comments on skin tones and the simplistic change of the role of the person making those comments is a powerful depiction of the influence media has on our culture.

The role of media in terms of both reflection and shaping of our culture is clear but what does this have to do with celebrities and influencers?

Celebrities are representatives of society, it may not have been a role they have chosen but it is a responsibility that comes with fame. When someone serving as a representative of the masses equates feminism to defiance and not loving one’s spouse, neglecting to understand the impact of their words it causes an uproar. Rightfully so, because those masses are made up of real people fighting for these causes that are undermined by the influencer’s words.

Similarly, as they represent Pakistan on an international scale, masses object to being represented in the ways they are. Is it right to hold celebrities accountable for a job they did not ask for? Probably not but it is the undeniable truth that they are the faces of our country as Pakistani dramas and media watched throughout the world have allowed them an international following. They showcase our culture to the world and it must be done accurately.

So with media being an expansive tool that shapes and reflects our culture, and celebrities being representatives of said culture, we can conclude that the relationship between media and culture is undeniable. We are influenced by the content we consume and the individuals we recognize as role models to the point that it shapes our lives.

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