People often take the changes that occur to the world for granted. It rarely occurs to an average person that they may have had a major impact on the everyday environment (Andersen & Taylor 2007). Despite the huge impact, which the societal stereotypes have on people’s lives and behaviour, people, in fact, have a tangible effect on the evolution of the everyday world, since they define the cultural tendencies and act not only as consumers of the existing forms of art and the information provided by modern and traditional media but also as the creators of the aforementioned content and its interpreters.
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The impact, which ordinary people have on the environment, in which they live, work and explore, is often underrated for a number of reasons, the existing systems of power being the key factor. It would be pointless to defy the fact that in the context of a particular job, a person has much more power to change the world than as an ordinary city dweller; indeed, a politician, a celebrity, an economist, or a judge has much more chances for altering the reality and shaping the environment, in which citizens live. However, as far as the ordinary environment is concerned, people as mere citizens of a certain state also have enough power to change the world and introduce the rest of the humankind to new and enticing ideas.
The contribution of an individual to the development of the society or to the creation of a social or a cultural movement may seem minor. However, once a certain individual introduces a unique and exciting idea to the rest of society, this idea is most likely to be supported. As a result, even major traditions of a certain society may be challenged, once the need to change emerges. One of the most famous examples, the creation of the feminist movement, shows in a very convincing manner that these are ordinary people, who promote new ideas and challenge the society in order to make everyday life more exciting and get rid of the nauseous stereotypes, which blocked people’s way to new knowledge.
On the one hand, the role that an ordinary person plays in defining the course of their own life is ridiculously little. After all, it is necessary to realise that the life of a person in literally every possible domain is predetermined by the roles that the society imposes on them from the very birth. At this point, it will be reasonable to address the gender issue. Indeed, if considering the process of young child development, one will be able to see that every object, which a child is surrounded by, defines the child’s future behavioural patterns and, therefore, their role in family and society, to a considerable extent. The toys that a child plays with are marketed in order to cater to the gender stereotypes; girls are offered dolls, which foster their skills to nurture and mother others, whereas boys are suggested to play with cars and action figures, i.e., the toys that develop their competitiveness and leadership qualities.
The same can be observed at the later stages of a person’s development; gender stereotypes are imposed onto an individual as the rules of what is “proper” for young men and young women. The same can be applied to not only gender but also race and ethnicity issues; because of the existing clichéd character traits traditionally attributed to certain ethnicities, the people are suggested a limited amount of developmental patterns from the very first step that they make when integrating into the society. Hence, it can be assumed that the latter restricts the creativity of individuals in their attempts to be co-producers of the everyday world. People can be viewed as the agents contributing to the course of ordinary life, yet they cannot be viewed as those defining it from the social standpoint (Couldry 2013).
On the other hand, a closer look at the ways in which people may affect their ordinary environment will reveal that the possibilities are truly ample. First and most obvious, people may share their individual experiences with others in order to create a specific knowledge and integrate the newly acquired skills into the reconstruction of society and the reinvention of the present-day reality. One of the most famous examples, the popularisation of science can be viewed as an amazingly successful attempt to reconstruct not only the ordinary life of people but also their mode of thinking and exploring the world around them.
It should also be born in mind that in the present-day reality, the use of modern media in general and the social network, in particular, affects the way in which people contribute to the creation of their everyday environment considerably. Despite the obvious usefulness of social networks as the key to successful communication between people all over the world, it clearly affects the way in which people shape everyday reality in a rather negative manner. Indeed, using a substitute for real-life communication instead of actual personal conversations, people lose the skills that allow for bonding and creating strong relationships. As a result, such an impressive part of communication as its nonverbal component is being skipped, which leads to a slackening of the emotional intelligence development process (Castells, Fernández-Ardèvol & Qiu 2013).
The introduction of IT into the lives of ordinary people, however, has also contributed to progress. Like any other tool, information technology can be used for both appositive and negative societal changes, therefore, either offering people additional new options in shaping their everyday reality or depriving them of the opportunity to be an active member of the latter. Hence, it can be assumed that the integration of modern media into people’s everyday lives has both played a positive part in the construction of favourable environment and at the same time affected the rates of social activity among citizens rather negatively by dragging them into the realm of virtual reality.
Speaking of which, even the alternate reality created by artists, escapists and other people reluctant to participate in the economic or political life of the society, can be viewed as a powerful tool for changing the world, which people live their ordinary lives in. By creating an online community, which revolves around a particular theme, topic or issue, people display their willingness to alter the world and introduce new elements to it. In fact, virtual reality can be seen as not merely an addition to the actual realm of communication (i.e., real-life), but as an independent universe, which coexists with the latter and offers more options for people to change it. The effect of online communication is all the more powerful in the communities, where a certain degree of anonymity can be provided to the user. Indeed, in the networks, where users are allowed to register by using their nicknames, a more relaxed and, therefore, more creative atmosphere exists.
Andersen, M & Taylor, 2007, Sociology: Understanding a diverse society, updated, Cengage Learning, Stanford, CT.
Castells, M, Fernández-Ardèvol, M & Qiu, 2013, Mobile communication and society: A global perspective, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
Couldry, 2013, Media, society, world: social theory and digital media practice, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.