The rapid advancement of the internet has created unmistakable, significant changes to our everyday lives. The impact the Internet has on society is felt in almost everything we do — from ordering a pizza to starting a romantic relationship. It has affected how we communicate, how we learn about global events, and even how our brains function.
At this point, society is racing to catch up with developing web technology, creating a social evolution that has impacted how we celebrate significant life events. From weddings to graduations to baby announcements, there’s no denying that the way we celebrate is impacted by the web. Here are a few ways that the Internet has changed how we organize, participate in, and document the most significant aspects of our lives.
The Impact the Internet Has on Society
We Treat Intimacy Differently
The internet has affected the way we form and maintain relationships with friends, family, romantic partners, and acquaintances. Now that we can interact with each other and keep each other updated on our lives more easily than in the past, the notion of intimate relationships has changed.
For instance, social media allows people to constantly update their networks about their lives. Using photos, videos, text posts, and more, we present ourselves to everyone around us, allowing us to stay in touch from moment to moment — with people who we care about and people we don’t. Casual acquaintances from years past know our political leanings, where we go to and graduate from school, who we’re marrying, who our kids are, and even where we live.
This can create a new sense of intimacy that didn’t exist in the past, since people feel that they know all there is to know about the people in their lives. This, in turn, has actually decreased the significance of personal life events, like family, college, and high school reunions. If we all know what everyone else is up to anyway, then why spend the money and travel time to catch up in person?
The beginning of the 21st Century saw a huge rise in social media and other interactive, crowd-based communication platforms. This revolution upended the way we think about personal life events due to the fact that with the internet, we have access to a huge variety of ideas and options — and now everyone has a say.
For one, as we grow more globally connected, there are more cultural ideas and traditions being shared than ever. Culture flows across oceans and borders easily, meaning that more people are beginning to pick up ideas regarding how to celebrate significant life events than ever before. American couples are including aspects of Indian culture in their weddings; European youth are beginning to throw American-style graduation parties. Now that ideas are shared among the public in crowd-based communication platforms like social media, people are able to pick and choose celebration ideas in ways that were unheard of even 20 years ago.
A quick scroll through social media can also give you an idea of how personal life events are growing increasingly crowd-based. As young couples announce their wedding engagements on Facebook, graduations on Instagram, and pregnancies on Twitter, it’s easy to pick out comments from interested family members, friends, and even acquaintances giving their opinions — wanted or not. Everything from wedding colors to baby shower themes have become a sort of collective event, as social media invites everyone to participate. In other words, your engagement photo shoot is no longer yours — it’s part of the collective “ours” to comment on as we like.
We’re Constantly Connected
The rise of mobile communication, especially through smartphones, means that most people have constant access to the Internet. We are no longer tied to desktop computers; we can get online almost anytime, anywhere, which has created noticeable impacts on how we celebrate personal life events.
For instance, being constantly connected to the internet has created a need for near-constant documentation of our daily lives. Since social media has become such an integral part of how we communicate, many people feel a need to post about everything from their breakfast to the birth of their friend’s child online, all the time. People live-tweet arguments they overhear at restaurants, Snapchat clips from concerts in real time, and even pose for social media shots at funerals.
In response to this, people are starting to have to actively discourage social media documentation during celebrations of life events like weddings. It’s growing increasingly popular for engaged couples to ban cell phone photos and videos during their wedding ceremonies due to issue like guests stepping out into the aisle for a photo or getting in the professional photographer’s way to snap that perfect shot.
While it’s difficult to say that the internet is the sole cause of these developments, there’s no denying that it has made a significant impact on how we celebrate personal life events. As we navigate the social evolution that comes with changes in technology, it will be interesting to pay attention to how these events continue to change with it.