Popular culture is the expression of the wholesome beliefs, activities, engagements, and attitudes of a given society. In societies where there are different classes, the lower classes tend to express the society’s popular culture more than the upper classes do (Browne, 2005, p.3). Popular culture is expressed in both tangible and intangible entities of a particular society and may acquire different meanings for the different classes of society.
The act of using cell phones to text while driving has been the bane of modern living. Currently, nearly all adults and teenagers in the US own at least one cell phone. In addition, the number of drivers has also increased, and an unfortunate result of this development is that incidences of cell phone use while driving has also increased. Interestingly, teenagers and youth, the persons in society that most commonly exchange text messages, are also the ones that most commonly use cell phones for texting while driving.
One theory of popular culture that captures this trend is the theory of progressive evolution, which states that, popular culture is an expression of the common and self-evident activities of a society. According to this theory, because the cell phone has become arguably one of the most powerful communication devices in today’s American society, its widespread use is an expression of its pride of place in the American society popular culture.
In particular, the act of cell phone texting while driving, albeit a dangerous activity, is still only an expression of the average American’s daredevil and risk taking behavior, a trait that easily leads to either destruction or progress. Therefore, the act of cell phone texting while driving expresses a part of the American lifestyle, especially among teenagers and youth, the vast perpetrators of this practice.
The theory of the culture industry similarly captures the act of cell phone texting while driving. According to this theory, the consumer needs of owning a cell phone have contributed to the widespread use of the cell phone, and the act of cell phone texting while driving is only a result of the widespread use of the cell phone.
In America’s consumer culture, the cell phone has been portrayed as an indispensable communication tool; therefore, many Americans have made it a point to at least own one, leading to its misuse in the act of texting while driving.
The formula applicable to the topic/act of cell phone use while driving, as analyzed by the two different theories described in the foregoing paragraphs, is an adventure. Teen hood is usually an age of exploration and discovery, and therefore, it is hardly surprising that American teens are the ones most likely to use their cell phones for texting while driving.
For these teens, the adventure lies in defying authorities, since the use of cell phone for texting while driving is a traffic offence. As stated earlier, this risk-taking trait amongst Americans in general and teens in particular, has its advantages, and the risk takers usually usher in progress in society. However, regarding cell phone texting while driving, this risk-taking trait is misplaced, leading to numerous accidents which cause unnecessary injuries and deaths.
In conclusion, the analysis of the act of cell phone texting while driving through the two theories of popular culture show that, the act is simply an expression of an intrinsic and prevalent behavior within the American society, or an act of defiance by the youth and teens, all in the spirit of risk taking and adventurism.
Browne, R. B. (Ed.). (2005). Profiles of Popular Culture: A Reader. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press.