It is undeniable that culture affects media in various ways, but this relationship is not unilateral. Initially, media had informative purposes, but later its aim started to change, shifting to influencing people's ideas. Over time, it became ideological, reflecting the events from their perspectives, creating and constructing a new reality. However, the emergence of social media changed this dramatically, as people no longer consumed media passively as in earlier mediums. In social media, people are no longer passive, taking the role of creators. This way, they affect culture as well and create meaning, becoming more active participants.
Culture is a constant meaning-making process and a way for people to express themselves. Social media gives people a medium for self-expression, showing us the dynamism of culture and meaning creation and how different mediums of culture and their meanings change. Another aspect is the change social media has experienced over a relatively short time. Instead of the negative and positive changes, one should focus on the notion of change itself, and to what extent this extremely dynamic change affects our understanding of culture and social media.
At first, social media was an honest, self-explanatory, and seemingly equal platform. People were expressing themselves and disseminating their ideas to create an identity for themselves, whether it was genuine or not. But now there are many content creators, bloggers, and influencers using social media for the sake of monetization and attention-seeking rather than identity creation.
It can be said that social media paved the way for active participation on its way to democracy. But are social media and the internet more democratic? Let’s take TV, for instance. Broadcasting is a different medium than newspapers, as people do not need to be literate to consume or participate in it, embracing more people. With the visual dimension combined with audio, people can see the products and advertisements on the screen. Seeing a thing rather than just hearing it makes it more believable, constructing a new sense of reality.
However, TV broadcasts and media are not reflections of reality but rather creatives of the versions of reality created by those who hold power. Therefore, power holders have the authority to transform the meaning as they like. Stuart Hall’s theory of representation is important in this regard and shows us that everything we see in the media is a fictional text, a modified fragment, or an illusion of reality.
In social media, people have the choice to create their own identity; however, it is different for television and media. Television shapes and creates our identity through the programs we watch that reflect our identity, and with that, we seem to make choices. Everything we watch or are exposed to changes our conceptual map; thus, one’s identity is rewritten and recreated. This sense of identity is constructed through television since the early stages of childhood, as children have less authority.