MDIA2003_18 MDIA2003_IssuesTrendFeature_18 MDIA2003Thur9.00 Rose-AnneThur9.00_2003_18

The biggest trend of all: Let’s look at the trend of trends

Talking about shapes like of feathers, lightning, waves, bows and even stiletto heels, these things seem more like what a child wants to find in their sticker book rather than what someone wants to put on their face. However, this is exactly what is happening these days. Just to name a few of the more bizarre eye brow trends of the last few years where all those shapes are involved!

Bizarre eyebrow trends.

The beauty trend and, now, every day standard of having ‘brows on fleek’ came into significant notice quite a few years ago. While the grooming and stylization of eyebrows began with a simple selection of thickness and arches, trends that take brows to the next levels include many creative and unthinkable forms. The ‘stiletto brow’, ‘wavy brow’ and ‘braided brow’ are just to name a few, some no longer even in resemblance of an eyebrow shape at all.

Connected by the internet, people from all over the world follow these trends that are often started just by individual groups or people. Ranging from young adults to even children who are now all within a generation that is incapsulated by the sociotechnology of the media sphere, never previously within human history has trends been so extensive and viral in nature.

But beauty trends are just one realm of the trending world. The array of influencers within platforms such as Facebook, YouTube or Instagram take on forms of representation in visual and written ways combined. So while beauty trends are most prominent amongst and followed by those that participate in visually orientated platforms, other trends in the form of participation in memes, or even movements that use this network for social change are also prominent. A well-rounded mix of influence between ridiculous acts and empowering change can all be found within trends that circulate.

“I always like seeing people applying make-up with like an egg beater or whatever… A lot of stupid things [come out of social media trends] hahaha.’”

Sandi Foskett, a 19-year-old with a following of a couple thousand on her YouTube channel credits people’s participation in trends to the community feel it brings and describes the possibility of both good and bad influences to be produced.

Sandi Foskett, 19.

“Some trends aren’t good trends, some people do stupid things like climbing buildings, hold on with one hand, and sometimes they perpetuate wrong stereotypes about groups. In some cases, it can promote superficiality and homogeneity, the word that everyone turning into the same thing basically,” She said.

However, Foskett also acknowledged the use of trends for social causes where authentic perspectives can be found beyond the bias nature of mass produced media. “There’s no other place you’re going to see it,” she said. “[Mass media] It’s all really bias whereas I think social media really gives the opportunity to see other people’s lives and their experiences.”

Various social media trends that became viral movements include #metoo and Time’s Up.

Another example of this, the #LifeAGirl Campaign, was highlighted by 20-year-old Leigh Matthews. Currently studying PR and Marketing, she wants to work for influencers in future and she talked about their power to influence public opinion.

Leigh Matthews, 20.

“With increased social media presence in today’s society it allows influencers to express their thoughts and opinions to an ever-growing audience, tailoring trends to even benefit themselves. By doing so, these influencers have the ability to influence the thoughts of their viewers who may be more susceptible to such trends,” Matthews said.

“Some trends are really focused on positive movements, such as the #LifeAGirl Campaign about confidence. Again, media influencers play a major role in how these trends can be portrayed and how their audience may perceive them.”

So the internet holds a limitless display of types of trends that people participate in on a global scale. These trends are easily able to create waves of influence both in good and bad ways as a result of worldwide reach. But why has this modern generation become so obsessed with trends? The trends are empowered by the widespread and continued participation in them, a trend of partaking in trends. Maybe it’s time to look at the trend of trends. To look at this phenomenon of participation on a macro scale.

The internet realm that we are all absorbed in.

The internet’s ability to cater towards individuals’ construction of self and establishment of self in relation to others has driven a much more inherent and in-build pull towards participation in such activities on online platforms. Characteristics of human nature has guaranteed the success of trends.

In an interview with Don Sillence, a tutor for media in the University of New South Wales, he expressed the internet in relation to its users as a social, memetic mechanism that is unlike anything previously seen or engaged with by humans.

A similar underlying principle was shared between Foskett, Matthews and Sillence. While Foskett described a community feel established by participation in trends, Matthews commented that “a sense of belonging to a group, feeling involved with something” was what drove participation. These perspectives come together through Sillence’s evaluation.

“We are a social species: belonging is how we understand ourselves and each other,” he said.

As a result of the relational nature, the continued participation within things that everyone else is participating in provides a sense of continued connectedness, establishing belonging. There is a trend of trends in modern-day culture consequent to something that has always been present within the human experience that has simply never been allowed to flourish and infest the way it is able to within technology that is now able to transcend the boundaries of time and space.

Sillence, in recognition of sociotechnology in creating the current trend of trends, presents the idea that present occurrence is only the beginning of further phenomenon as a result of this inherent human aspect. He also presented the empowerment of influencers as just a glimpse of a future where everyone affects and influences everyone else, an ultimate connection and appreciation of individual perspectives.

“Sometimes trends are clearly toxic – like Tidepods, and some like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may seem ineffectual, or just random – like Gangname Style, but all of them are a reminder that we came up with a cross-cultural method of communicating that doesn’t rely on a particular language or identity but provides others ways of identifying, interacting and being performative. I’m reasonably sure this is a social and evolutionary act of self-defense. We are reacting to prepare ourselves for our species ‘going live’ online,” he said.

“We think we already did that. We’re wrong. We’re only half on and halfway in, in terms of integration and user experience.  We are gearing up to be understood, to be heard, to be connected.”

“Social media influencers are just the symptom of the disease we’re trying to catch.”