I bought my first Bop magazine when I was nine from a Mac’s convenience store. It had Hilary Duff and Aaron Carter on the cover.
Last week a girl in my class said, “Who’s Aaron Carter?”
If you’re unfamiliar with what Bop is, you should be. The magazine was discontinued in 2014. It was the kind of magazine that had “Guess what type of lip gloss Amanda Bynes wears,” and “Are you the right girl for Nick Jonas?” kinds of quizzes.
Ah, Nick Jonas. Countless hours from my teen years were spent watching YouTube videos of him and his then-pubescent vocals.
My classmate and I are only two years apart so I know I’m not that old, but it got me thinking about the ways I used to consume popular culture compared to how youth and teens today.
The difference between then and now is the medium and immediacy.
I used to race my brother home from school so I could use the computer before him.
Just four years ago, I would start each day by picking up the Winnipeg Free Press off the front porch.
Now, I unconsciously scroll through my Facebook news feed when I’m bored, but I can’t remember the last time I used the family computer. My dad still pays for a newspaper subscription, but there are more and more days when the paper stays rolled up in its plastic bag, unread.
The reason for these changes is the same for all three:
There’s a phone for that.
When I was in junior high, the closest I could get to my favourite celebrities was watching The Lizzie McGuire Movie 25 times.
Now I can tap my thumb a couple times on my iPhone and see what anyone in the world posts, when they posted, and interact with them by liking, commenting, and sharing. I have control over what kind of media I consume, how often I feel like consuming it, whenever I want.
Celebrities used to seem so glamorous. Their behind-the-scenes life seemed so top-secret. Now, thanks to social media platforms like Instagram, I know what Beyoncé’s balcony view looks like.
I think media consumption for people around my age (’90s baby) has the biggest impact because we grew up right on the cusp of when media and the way we consume it changed drastically. We were old enough to remember media before, and we’re the generation who will integrate new media into our personal lives, work, and economy.
Personally, I think the iPhone is the biggest factor.
I started high school with no cell phone. For Christmas in grade nine, I got an LG shine — a silver flip phone. Texts weren’t divided into separate conversations, and I panicked when I accidently pressed the Internet or music button because they were features too expensive to pay for.
Six phones later, the biggest difference in the way I consume media is how quickly I can access it. I get Twitter updates within moments of something happening, and I have four different news apps that give me news. I don’t even have to look for stories, they just pop up on my screen.
10 years ago the verb “tweet” was gibberish. Now it’s how we control what media (thoughts, opinions, and jokes too) to share and when — all from a device small enough to fit in our pockets.