According to Wikipedia, “Popularity is a social phenomenon that dictates who or what is best liked.” We see it everywhere in society, in the ‘popular culture’ that surrounds us, whether it’s songs, movies, TV shows, singers, actors, celebrities, or even popular foods and drinks. When something gains the attention of a group, it becomes ‘popular’, the media catches onto the craze and the whole thing snowballs.
Think of the hype surrounding ‘50 Shades’ last year. It didn’t matter whether the books were good, bad, or indifferent. They became ‘popular’, firstly because of an aggressive marketing strategy, and then because of the snowball effect, helped by the media, and then because everyone was asking everyone else, ‘Have you read it (or them)?’
What about fashions in clothes? Who decides what colours will be ‘popular’ this spring, or what styles everyone will be wearing? Or which shoes and handbags?
The crucial word in the Wikipedia definition, to my mind, is ‘dictates’. The popularity of many things is ‘dictated’ to us. In addition, the marketing experts know that the easiest section of society to influence is young people. Many of them want to be seen to be following the popular trends, whether in fashion or music or the ‘best’ club or pub in town.
Some people never really grow out of this. They continue to be influenced by what is ‘popular’. Others go completely the other way, and go all out to be ‘different’. The majority of us, I would suggest, gradually learn our own preferences, regardless of what may or may not be popular. In other words, we become individuals, making our own decisions about what to wear, what music to listen to, what movies to see, what furniture or kitchen equipment or technology products to buy, regardless of whether these are ‘popular’ or not.