Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been living in a pop culture bubble for most of my life. I am a ride-or-die devotee to my favorite movies (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), music (John Mayer), and celebrities (Meghan Markle) that I already love.
As you can see, I don’t stray too far from the beaten path, and I feel the need to make more of an effort to be explorative in my media consumption. My friends and I are very like-minded, so whatever podcast or book recommendation I get from them tends to be something I’ve already heard about or explored on my own. Plus, social media algorithms don’t help — they just show you more of what you already like!
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This has been especially bad during quarantine, because during this tumultuous and unpredictable time, I’ve stuck close to the comfort of what’s already familiar to me. Here are four ways I’m working toward stepping out of that endless feedback loop, and “popping” my pop culture bubble.
Spend time on social media platforms outside of my usual rotation
When I’m clicking through my phone, I tend to gravitate toward a few specific apps (Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook), and I end up seeing the same types of content from friends, family, and celebs I’ve been following for years.
Once quarantine started, I began feeling bored with my usual social media patterns. I’ve since expanded my digital repertoire to outlets I don’t normally frequent, like Tik Tok, Pinterest, and Youtube. On these platforms, you can find all types of creators that may have smaller followings but are just as engaging, innovative, and awesome as huge accounts. One of my favorite Tik Tok pages is @courtandnate, a young couple who sold all of their possessions to live out of a van and travel the country with their dog. Safe to say I wouldn’t have normally come across an account like theirs!
Pinterest is also great. Since downloading Pinterest, I’ve become way more of a DIY person than I ever thought I could be. I’ve fallen down a Pinterest hole for hours, and ended up finding incredible travel ideas, DIY home blogs, and dairy-free lifestyle sites. Falling down that hole usually feels productive and explorative — I’m inspired to organize, create something with my hands (like this wall decor), cook, bake… the list goes on!
Make a note something that catches my eye – then follow up
I’m bombarded with marketing for popular shows, movies, books, etc. to the point where I feel like I don’t need to “remember” anything: I’m constantly reminded! In reality, though, not all shows have the same level of marketing. I recently fell victim to this. “Normal People” came out on Hulu around the same time that “Jane Goodall: The Hope” dropped on Disney Plus. I was super interested in both, but guess which one I ended up binge-watching, and which one I forgot about? “Normal People” was promoted all over social media leading up to the release, whereas Jane Gooddall didn’t receive nearly as much mainstream coverage. The documentary totally slipped my mind.
Now, I have a note in my phone where I can easily jot down things that catch my eye — whether it be a green plant Instagram account, a gender studies documentary, or a New York Times op-ed to revisit when I have time.
Engage in conversations about topics that are unfamiliar to me, in an effort to learn more
Admittedly, this is easier said than done. It can definitely be intimidating to have a conversation about a topic you’re unfamiliar with, but that someone else is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about. It can be awkward to admit when we don’t know (or are wrong about) something, so it can be easier to just stay silent. However, people enjoy sharing their passions with others.
For example, I LOVE talking about Mary Oliver’s poetry, especially to people who are new to her work. It’s an opportunity for me to (hopefully!) make someone else fall in love with Mary Oliver’s poetry, too. The next time I start to shy away from a conversation about an unfamiliar topic, I’m going to ask the simple question of “Can you tell me more about that?” and see where the conversation takes me.
Set limits on my media consumption
It is way too easy to spend hours clicking through a Snapchat article about Ariana Grande’s dating history or all of Kendall Jenner’s “Best Fashion Moments.” Before I know it, it’s time for me to go to bed, and I feel like I wasted the last few hours of my day. Setting automatic time limits on social media apps has been incredibly beneficial for me. If you have an iPhone, you can do this in your settings, but if not, you can download the Digital Wellbeing app. It’s super helpful to be reminded automatically that I’ve spent way too much time scrolling on Instagram, and should probably do something else with my time.
Stepping out of my pop culture bubble doesn’t always have to mean stepping into another type of bubble, Jane Goodall or otherwise. Sometimes it can just mean putting down my phone and tuning into myself and the world around me.
Originally published on July 16, 2020.