"Roar," the latest music video by Katy Perry, has a massive buzz. It shows a day-long WhatsApp group chat between the star and her friends. It also offers interesting insights into millennial culture.
YOLO Attitude: You Only Live Once and You Want to Show It
The music video starts with a Vine-like sequence of a lotus flower tattoo on Katy Perry right wrist. This symbol relates to a new beginning after her divorce from Russel Brand (the song is all about roaring again). Tattoos have become very mainstream among millennials: they function like milestones on our Facebook timeline. Tattoos are tangible proof of our achievements. The phenomenon is booming; in the US, 36% of 18-25 have at least one tattoo.
In her paper "An Ironic Fad: The Commoditification and Consumption of Tattoos," Mary Kosut says "the permanence of tattoos contributes to their allure and cultural signiﬁcance."
There's a strong tie between digital objects which set up our real identity among our peers (the style of our blog, the tone of voice of our tweets, etc.) and the tattoo phenomenon: after all, a tattoo is an external proof of a potentially deep inner story, shareable if the owner wants to, but also visible to random viewers.
Daily-telling: A Personal Story Built Upon Sharing with Others
Parents used to be skeptical when their children spent hours on phones with their friends, because the phone was a technology that allowed young people to have a culture that was private from their parents, even though it was in the home. Now, the phenomenon has gone even further with texting and chatting.
As teenagers use these technology, they are making a record of their culture. Their billions of impressions are now permanent, can be archived, accessed later. It's a fundamental shift: millennials could be the first generation to have a recorded personal history. In Katy Perry's music video, it's all about this on-going daily-telling. It is a online conversation that shapes habits, codes, and norms.
Most social media conversations are limited to tiny groups of users or chatters, but they are not completely closed. Instead there are millions of interconneccted clusters that allow ideas to spreads from one group of people to another.