Digital media culture as an integral part of everyday life

Denis Dunas,
Leading Researcher,
Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University,

Digital media is now the dominant influence of peoples’ everyday lives and social behavior in the global culture of twenty-first century society. Contemporary media usage is associated with the need for affection and involvement in social and cultural communities and approval and integration into the emerging digital culture. Thus, it is possible to observe signs of such important processes as socialization and self-actualization in media practices of the youth audience in digital media culture. These needs are strongly related to cultural and social processes and have been normally achieved in an individual’s cultural and social environments. This becomes crucial for the understanding of new digital media culture.

In today’s digital environment, media consumption is changing and transforming people’s social practices and daily behavior. Media is now not just a source of information, but also an environment for self-expression, and an opportunity to realize the communicative needs of a person, and a resource for self-education. Media’s changing role in modern society is reflected in the younger generations who are the first to perceive new digital practices and are the most integrated into the digital environment of the twenty-first century.

The rapid expansion of Russia’s youth audience with broadband internet penetration occurred at a time of great political activity, societal integration and personal self-realization. There was also structural change in the digital environment away from the Western model, which led to changes in media consumption.

The research group of Lomonosov Moscow State University decided to study the motivational factors that determine the media consumption of a youthful audience in Russia. Motivational factors can, once they are identified, reveal profound changes in the structure of media consumption, not only in terms of quantitative indicators but also in terms of changes in social practices.

Self-actualization and socialization acquire special significance for the young audience in the process of media consumption, while the satisfaction of basic information needs to be associated with physiological needs and the sense of security both acquire lesser significance. There is a clear correlation with the ever-growing use of social media, which forms the living environment for contemporary humans. Social media, in possessing the qualities and characteristics of not only the media but also the social system, transforms the ability to satisfy the needs of the audience.

Two key processes of personal development in society – socialization and self-actualization – are the primary motives in the process of media consumption in the digital medium, but who is the subject of these processes, the real individual or a virtual individual? The fundamental distinction of digital media culture from virtual reality is the possibility of being an active participant and creator of social reality, altered by the logic of mediatization. Digital media culture penetrates social reality just as deep as the logic of social order penetrates the media. As a result of this close interaction, the line between the social system and digital media culture as a generated system is erased.

The digital media culture built by social media and other new media is not an analog of the social environment but is the social environment. Digital culture as a special reality, different from actual reality, does not exist. The digital environment is perceived as inseparable from social reality, which matches the concept of the integrity of the human psyche. Network space exists not as a separate reality, which can be observed from the sidelines, but as an integral part of everyday life.


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