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For centuries culture has been what shaped us as people. Our personalities, the way we interact with others, the way we dress, speak and even walk or talk was and still is sometimes determined by the culture with which we identify. A simple definition of culture would be the customs, values and social interactions of a specific group of people or nation. The culture with which I identify, for example, is the xhosa culture originates with the people of South Africa. Some of the things involved in this culture are the xhosa language and the different types of ceremonies such as traditional weddings. Another example of a ceremony is ‘initiation schooling’ whereby the elders of the village teach young men about the values and morals men should have with the intent of converting young boys into men once the boys have completed certain tasks which include circumcision. The reason people choose to belong to and follow certain cultures is because those cultures are supposed to shape who you are during your transition from minor to adult.Popular culture, though, can be defined as anything a large number of people enjoy or follow that influences their social style, dress code, thinking style or social and political views. Examples of popular culture or ‘pop’ culture are music genres, artists of any kind (music, painters, welders ) and political and social figures. Popular culture has influenced society just as much as ‘normal’ culture has and in many cases in the same way. So what is the difference between culture and pop culture? An easy way to explain the difference is as follows: culture is something that is made up, created or produced by others and pop culture is something that can be mostly consumed, purchased or copied.Now that you know what the difference between culture and pop culture is, I can introduce you to my personal example of pop culture that has influenced me in ways that will be discussed below.The example I chose is a public figure and world-famous political leader – the late Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Nelson Mandela, who was originally from South Africa, was well-known for overthrowing the apartheid regime and putting an end to any law that was discriminatory toward non Europeans. He lived by the principles of equality, forgiveness and education. He was also South Africa’s first black president. The reason I chose my former president is because he has inspired me and influenced me in many ways. Because of his influence on us South Africans, I have grown to be reserved, soft hearted, thoughtful and humorous woman; his personality and admirable words of wisdom have also made me quite prudent. The way I think about things has definitely been shaped by his memorable speeches and words of wisdom. Because of my admiration for him I, just like him, internalize and think very carefully before I say anything to avoid offending anybody around me. I am always thinking about how the actions of today could influence tomorrow or my future. I always think of ways I and others can contribute to the community to continue his legacy. The very same things that were important to him are important to me too. I am also very logical, something everybody knew Mandela to be. Although sometimes my emotions can get the best of me, I am still able to think of logical solutions or answers to problems. I wouldn’t say that he has influenced the way I dress literally–because after all, he is a man—but I am very conservative when it comes to my dress code. He was very big on respecting others as well as himself and so am I. Nelson was also very involved in working toward improving the poverty rate in South Africa. He would educate people, old and young, on appreciating what you have, giving what you can to the less fortunate and spending money wisely. He focused on the importance of everybody having what they need which is why I don’t pay attention to the things I want as much as the average teenager would. Saving money and helping others who don’t have what they need to live a dignified life is something that I often practice through spending money on things that go toward charity or even to a close friend or family member who needs a helping hand.A social life is not something I can relate to very much because I’m always working on things that can improve my chances of living a comfortable lifestyle after my college phase. Because of this the events I participate in or volunteer for usually form a network of people with whom I find myself socialising with. The people who are around me in this environment are usually similar to me in many ways. They are intellectual, creative, intelligent and have mind-stimulating conversation. They have a love for helping others, value education and are extremely humorous. I believe I am attracted to these people not only because they have similar traits as me but because they remind me so much of my former president. Since I am always so comfortable in my social environment, being myself is never a challenge. My communication style is formal but sometimes casual, I am always finding something to babble about and I always show appreciation for whatever anybody has to share with me in one way or another.I strongly believe that my example of popular culture provides both a connection and disconnection with other people in society. It provides a connection because one of the ideologies Nelson had is something that every citizen of South Africa dreams of witnessing. His ideology states that there is only one race, the human race. This statement has brought many people together in the form of lobbies, social events and protests. Racism is all over the world so South Africans aren’t the only ones being brought together by his ideology. However, there are still some people who are pro-apartheid and those are the ones who cause the disconnection between themselves and people who are anti-apartheid. This disconnection has caused mass disruption in countries in Africa and other countries all over the world.Whether popular culture is a good or bad thing is different for everyone because you can put it to good use or bad use. In some cases it has resulted in major breakthroughs from depression or abuse and in other cases the influence of popular culture has caused mass murder and an inflation in crime rates. Popular culture is meant to influence you but how you interpret the way you should use it and how it influences you is your own responsibility. If you use it to violate other’s human rights or as a tool to break the law you also need to be ready for the consequences that follow. Also, you need to be extremely careful with what kind of pop culture you expose your children to because children are fast learners. Ideally you would want to monitor what kind of pop culture minors follow until they are old enough to make their own decisions, which is what my parents did for me. As a result, I am the young woman I am today and I would not have it any different.

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