Three or more people are required for something to be considered a “culture”. Here we’re talking about things people do, or observe, or contribute to each other—that kind of culture—not the kind that belongs in a petri dish. But that is beside the point. For now, focus on the requirement of how many people get on the wagon. If there’s only one person doing a certain thing, then the thing that one person is doing doesn’t constitute a culture. Even if three people are in on something, it maybe isn’t quite a full-grown culture, it may only be a subculture. Subcultures range from the few weird people who enjoy attaching blue plastic balls under their trucks, to the normal-seeming few who ride their bikes with no hands on the handlebars. Blue-ballers are a subculture of truck owners, and the look-Ma-no-hands people are a subculture of cyclists. Each of the cultures themselves, cycling and owning a truck, are immense social norms with people in the millions around the world participating, contributing, and accepting.
It’s worthwhile to add that there are a miniscule amount of misunderstood aspects of humanity which seem like culture but are not. Things such as mental illness, though they affect people, aren’t social constructs, so they aren’t culture. As a brief example: because so many people have dyspalexia these days doesn’t mean there is culture in it. Dyspalexia, by the way, is the disorder of not being able to describe yourself with words, which afflicts a few people. Why they need to describe themselves is the first mystery. Why they don’t have the vocabulary is the second. Along with a fair number of other people, I’m sure I could slap some choice identifiers on these wordless people. Such identification might help them, or not.
Hyperculture is where culture gets interesting. One recent definition of hyperculture is this: “Privacy is dead.”
There’s some truth in that, though I think there are many people who enjoy privacy. There are those who can afford to hide behind walls. Sad existence to hide, living in fear. But there are also those who gain very little of the world’s attention. For those who live in certain parts of the world, there are fewer mechanical eyes, less connectivity. There are whole villages being discovered in remote parts of the world where no one even knows what a cell tower is. No one stocks them for their purchasing preferences. In a dizzying twist, these unknown villages could potentially redefine hyperculture as a subculture.
Another way to chew on the idea of hyperculture is to consider how quickly the advance of technology has changed, and still changes, the way we do business, play games, interact with each other, watch videos, listen to music, even how we commute. The old ways still exist. We call it culture. But the changes all mingle together until most of us blend our perceptions with them. The definitions become fuzzy because we’re not sure whether the new thing wasn’t there the whole time, or if it replaced something, or if those selling it have simply rebranded it. Like when high-definition video was made the standard for American televisions at the turn of the century as if it was new, though the technology had been developed in the 1970s in Japan.
Hyperculture contributes to the blurring of the lines between how it all went down before and how it gets executed now.
One funny irony is that when the technology fails, the way it all went down before is how it gets executed now—at least until we get the power circuits reconnected.