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Thoughts on contemporary culture
The new year always brings predictions of what to expect in the coming months. Here are some of the things I believe we’ll see in 2011:
1. A growing acknowledgment that there are communities of LGBTs and black people, not one monolithic “Community.”
In the past, it was assumed that all LGBTs and black people could be viewed through the same prism, regardless of economic and political differences. Thankfully, this falsity of this idea is being exposed.
Eugene Robinson’s book Disintegration“>Disintegration a discusses the fracturing of the black community into four different categories, and Jonah Goldberg (of all people!) generated a firestorm of commentary with his editorial on the “bourgeoisifcation” of gay culture.
As populations become more integrated into the mainstream, it becomes obvious that they are comprised of individuals with unique philosophies and backgrounds. To typecast groups as “all the same” really means you haven’t taken the time to look beyond the surface.
2. More losses of minority cultural institutions like bookstores, music stores, and magazines.
In 2010, the iconic Ebony magazine was rumored to be for sale and its publisher eventually had to sell its building, and Nashville’s Outloud became the latest gay bookstore to close due to dwindling sales.
These stories highlight the challenges facing minority cultural spaces in the face of absorption into mainstream society. As major chains and media organizations develop their own relationships with blacks and gays, it is very difficult for these community stalwarts to hold on to their customer base. Independent, community-based culture and information are now dominated by podcasts and blogs, which are great but cannot fully replace the functions served by physical locations or products.
3. Changes to the internet and more discussions on its impact on society.
For many years, the internet has been perceived as a playground of “free culture” and anonymity. Yet concerns raised by Wikileaks, Comcast’s purchase of NBC and changes to net neutrality indicate possible changes in how information on the internet is handled. Furthermore, the Wall Street Journal series What They Know described in frightening detail the ways in which your privacy is compromised by websites and smart phone applications, most of which are undetectable to the average user. Anyone who is not familiar with “cookies,” “beacons,” or “scrapers” is urged to read the series and take steps to protect your personal information.
Authors are now asking whether the internet’s pervasive reach has unintended consequences. Both Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains “>The Shallows and William Davidow’s OVERCONNECTED: The Promise and Threat of the Internet“>Overconnected conclude that the internet’s efficiency has broad ramifications for social organization, human interaction, and even biology.
4. Hard times ahead.
As reported by the NY Times and other sources, states like Washington, Arizona, California, New York, and Illinois are facing massive budget shortfalls and slashing allocations for education, social services, and pensions. The federal stimulus package provided some relief, but as those funds run out, tough decisions have to be made.
Republicans gained a majority of congressional seats by promising fiscal restraint and lower taxes, but whether Americans will approve of European-styled austerity measures remains to be seen. Community support of non-profit organizations will be key, as they will be expected to increasingly assume responsibilities that were formerly handled by the government.
What do you see as major trends in 2011? Let us know!
predictions | Posted in culture
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