LIFESTYLE: The Conceptualization of a Social Media

LIFESTYLE defines a concept that has developed throughout history. The word, according to Webster, means “to lead a life of achievement, activity, or learning”. In its most inclusive definition, the word LIFESTYLE means: a course in which you will meet others who share your interests. LIFESTYLE also describes social situations in which people are free to express their most private thoughts and emotions. The expression of private ideas and emotions is a necessary part of healthy human development.

LIFESTYLE is a moving target. In some circles it refers to the behaviors and attitudes of adults and teens; in other circles it is used to describe the traits and general patterns of entire populations. In general, the word LIFESTYLE is used to refer to the habits, views, and behaviors of all kinds of people, no matter how diverse they might be. The term “Lifestyles” was first introduced by Austrian psychological pioneer Alfred Adler in his famous 1929 book, The Case of Miss R.

Alfred Adler’s original concept of LIFESTYLE had nothing to do with public opinion polls or popularity trends. It actually pertains to differences in behavior, tastes, values, and life-styles, not to general demographic characteristics. According to Adler, a LIFESTYLE is based on “the dialectical movement which each person continually undergoes between the demands of his personal and intellectual independence and the basic needs of the masses”. A LIFESTYLE environment is constantly in flux, and changes as life-styles and values evolve and change. Because of this, Adler described his concept of LIFESTYLE as “the culture industry”, a concept he refined in the later half of the thirties with the introduction of the term “culture” to describe the mass media, advertising, and political system that promoted individualism.

As the world grows more individualistic, the need for a healthy lifestyle becomes more apparent. The word Lifestyle became associated with a variety of concepts and activities that came to refer to the ways of living a healthy, balanced life, including: individualism, collectivism, and socialism. Adler’s idea of LIFESTYLE was to emphasize the individual’s unique qualities, his/her individualizing characteristics, his/her values and attitudes toward life, and his/her practices and lifestyle. This approach made LIFESTYLE a much more useful term than the generic idea of a healthy lifestyle.

A few decades later, another American thinker, Philip Zimbardo introduced the term ATMOS in his ground breaking book, Race. Unlike Adler, Zimbardo considered human psychology an altogether separate field from culture, believing instead that each human culture was distinctive and self-referential. Consequently, he conceptualized LIFESTYLE as a key to understanding the dynamics of race and ethnicity in the 21st century. In his view, the concept of LIFESTYLE had to be changed to become more relevant in the context of today’s global culture industry. Zimbardo’s idea of LIFESTYLE had to be more like a generic concept, not a specific reference to any one individual or group.

This, together with his notion of Svrevers’ individual psychology approach to culture, has led him to propose many ideas concerning the relationship between LIFESTYLE and the social media. To illustrate, he believes that a word that describes the totality of a culture is necessarily incomplete without incorporating some term that characterizes the various aspects of that culture (such as “honor”) or may define a particular facet of the culture (such as street culture). He further suggests that a sociological lens that views a single aspect of LIFESTYLE will lead to a limited view of the society as a whole.