I see culture as a bubble.
Every individual has a bubble. It simultaneously gives and receives influence from other bubbles.
Giving bubbles can be as subtle as wearing a plain black tie to work or as obvious as constructing an impressive piece of architecture.
Receiving bubbles can be as subtle as observing a stranger’s plain black tie, or that impressive piece of architecture. It could also be as obvious as watching Canada’s hockey team win Olympic gold! We’re still feeling the effects of that bubble.
Important note: The bubble can only give to the future, and it can only receive from the past.
Some individuals give more than they receive. Some individuals receive more than they give. But everybody is giving and receiving on some level. It’s impossible for an individual to have no bubble. You can’t pop culture bubbles! You can’t pop pop-culture bubbles either! But, you may be able to make them smaller…
The size of your bubble depends on other bubbles around you. The more you give, receive, exchange and share with other bubbles, the bigger it is. Bigger bubbles are more influential.
As you read this, you are receiving influence from my bubble. Any kind of reaction implies an influence. If you react to it, leave a comment, forward it to friends, reference it, print it, frame it and hang it on a wall, you are contributing to the influence of this blog post. My bubble and your bubble have joined to create a bigger bubble. Cultural influence is entirely dependant on this interaction between givers and receivers.
Important note: If you ignored this post, our bubbles would remain separate. The absence of certain bubbles could be just as telling of culture as their presence.
Communities and cities have huge bubbles. In many ways, they act just like individuals because they receive and give to other communities and cities. Some give more than they receive and some receive more than they give. Politics, population, environment, technology, geography and time are key factors in the size and growth of a city’s culture bubbles.
We take some of our biggest bubbles for granted; Namely, the bubbles formed out of habit and routine such as driving a car, wearing clothes, showering every day, eating lunch around noon and using a spoon, etc… Culture shock is realizing that there are so many big bubbles in the world that you’re not a part of.
We try to label some other big bubbles; Jazz is a big one. But in reality, there are as many bubbles as there are interactions and reactions in the world. You are in as many bubbles as there are interactions and reactions in your world. There are too many to count and too few words to describe them. They’re also in constant flux; bubbles are unstable.
The word ‘culture’ is very generic; it suggests that our interactions are simpler than they are. It also overlooks the fundamental relationship between a giver and a receiver.
Culture bubbles are more versatile.