Growing Up Tethered: The Influence Of Modern Media And Entertainment


Using different forms of entertainment, such as media, people learn the standard values of society as well as how to interact and connect with others. Movies are one of many forms of entertainment; they demonstrate the shift in the values of a society from which people can learn. According to the article “The Post-Princess Models of Gender: The New Man in Disney/Pixar” written by Gillam and Wooden, there is a shift in the perspective of a male character and a change in the understanding of masculinity, which plays a large role in the society/community due to the ____.


Shift in Cultural Values through Movies

According to Gillam and Wooden, Pixar promotes the new male character in its movies, which accepts a more feminine and human form of its character. “‘[T]he true tutors of our children are not schoolteachers or university professors but filmmakers, advertising executives, and pop culture purveyors’ (qtd. in Giroux 63)” (Gillam and Wooden 552). Looking at modern movies, children are learning the accepted way of how they should act in society. Modern Disney films, as a form of entertainment, teach its audience that showing emotions and feelings is a part of being human. Put a connection between paragraphs in the transitional statement.

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Social Media and Identity Formation

Different forms of social media, such as YouTube, teach people how to find answers, learn who they are, and accept themselves. Our society is changing, and those changes can be seen within the media people in modern times use almost every day. During the teenage years, children are trying to understand who they are and what they acknowledge will affect their lives. Mark Hain narrates in his essay ‘”We Are Here For You’…” about the “It Gets Better Project,” where queer people are sharing their real-life stories about the struggles they had as members of the LGBTQ community. This project exists in order to help young queer people in rural areas to find themselves and show what they can be accepted in a modern society. Hain discusses adolesce as a “…crucial period of identity formation, and at a time when little else is within their control, many individuals gain a sense of agency from choosing the likes or dislikes in commercial media” (Hain 531). Teenagers struggle in the process of finding their identity, and to find a socially acceptable character, they seek social media and learn the ideologies from it. Social media can influence a person’s view of life, interests, and values in their development as an adult.

Impact of Digital Connectivity on Social Interaction

It allows teenagers to be more confident and sociable with people around them. Media helps people to learn how to connect, communicate, and share their feelings and thoughts with others, although there is the other side of the coin. As Turkle states in her essay “Growing Up Tethered,” the current generation of teenagers is “tethered” or linked to their cell phones and technology. A variety of issues that teenagers have and how cellular devices change teenagers’ growth as adults are also being discussed in her essay. “These young people live in a state of waiting for connection” (Turkle 579). Nowadays, it is very easy to stay in close contact with almost anyone, even if they are miles away. People learn how to make new connections and how they should look in the eyes of society. But even though there are so many pluses to the use of social media, there are as many minuses. (Our) Society is quickly becoming overly attached or addicted to technology, and it may not be the best for users. As evidence evidenced in her essay, Turkle uses information students shared. “Roman, eighteen, admits that he texts while driving and he is not going to stop. ‘I know I should, but it’s not going to happen if I get a Facebook message or something posted on my wall. I have to see it. I have to’” (Turkle 578). Allowance of the quick share of thoughts nowadays can be good as well as dangerous. Being tethered to electronics with social media, people learn new and newer accepted by society ways of talking. All of this knowledge and the entertainment of social media gives to people. Media influences do play a part in shaping teenage behavior.


In recent years, entertainment and media, likely more than anything else, have significantly impacted most people’s daily lives. What people see, listen to, or experience often reflects what society idealizes in terms of acceptance and communication. Using different forms of entertainment such as social media and movies, people learn how to accept themselves, learn new societal values, as well as how to interact and connect with others.


  1. “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age” by Sherry Turkle

  2. “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us” by Jean M. Twenge


  3. “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr

  4. “The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media” by Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld

  5. “The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World” by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis

Pursuit Of Happyness: Class Struggles And Social Ascension

From Desperation to Triumph: Social Mobility in The Pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness outlined several social issues that were faced by the starring actors: Will Smith playing Chris Gardner and Jaden Smith playing Garden’s son Christopher. Pursuit of Happyness was based on the real-life experiences of Christopher Gardner, who was once a homeless single father who struggled hard to become a successful stockbroker. The movie shows the audience the close relationship between the father and the son; they underline the fact that parents need to provide the proper care and attention to children so that they can maintain psychological development. The film allows the audience to make a connection to their personal lives; it also helps most people make sense of the world in which they live. The film resembles a number of social messages in the film for the society.

The Pursuit of Happyness shows the different movements a person can take on the social ladder. Throughout the movie, we witness how Chris overcomes being homeless and without a job. By the end, we are shown how he became a millionaire owner of a stock firm. This is a great example of social mobility, with Chris being able to experience both downward and upward mobility. The film starts off with Chris’s story; we are shown that he is living in the lower class population. During his internship, he drops below the poverty line, and in one of the main scenes, we are shown where he and Christopher return to the motel room to find their belongings removed, so they are left with no money or place to go. A validation of his downward social mobility is when Chris gets so desperate to the point that he sells his blood to raise money just so he can survive another day. Chris remains this way until the end of the film, where he finally lands and secures the dream position with the company. Here, we are shown where he made an upward social mobility progress, as he secured the dream job earning a middle-class income and lifestyle, and he ended up becoming a millionaire stockbroker, motivational speaker, and author. After becoming a millionaire, a speaker, and an author, he settled down into the upper-class lifestyle.

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The Pursuit of Happyness: Navigating Symbols of Wealth and the Theories of Social Stratification

Due to the symbols of social stratification, people in this film interact mostly with people who share the same social class, causing Chris to stand out more among the upper-class society. Suits, luxury cars, and expensive luncheons are regular and standard in the world Chris is trying to pursue, and this puts a strain on his insufficient financial lifestyle. When trying to keep up with the representation of what a successful businessman looks like, Chris alternates between two suits he has, pretends to own certain cars, and bails on a taxi after pretending he has enough money to pay for all the broker’s rides. When Chris offered to pay the taxi fee, he wanted to be seen as the image of a successful businessman, even though he had inadequate funds. If he refused or showed that he didn’t have enough funds, then he would have been represented as a lower-class man, therefore losing his chances of getting the job he really wanted. In spite of all his sufferings and challenges, Chris still succeeds, and his high-status job, which allows him pleasure and security in his and his son’s life, is a symbol of what happiness is in Chris’s eyes.

By looking at class division as a basic part of the American culture, functional analysis is “a theoretical framework in which society is viewed as composed of various parts, each with a function that, when fulfilled, contributes to society’s equilibrium.” (Henslin, 2012, p. 26). This theory maintains the idea that class stratification is essential and key for society to function properly. In the Pursuit of Happyness, Chris realizes his role as a lower class by doing the groundwork for successful businessmen. He was tricked into selling the scanners since his job provided hardly any room for growth, and the commissions he was receiving were very little compared to what the manufacturer of the product was making. Even working that job, he still plays an effective role in the corporate plan. Functional experts want to see class division in the employed world as an essential part, as society would not function properly if all classes were equal. The functionalist theory side of this film showed that the most qualified and skilled people usually fill the highest and most important positions in a company. Chris is a good example of how he has to start at the bottom as an intern due to his lack of education. Without a proper education, he cannot compete against others who are pursuing to be a stock broker.

The Pursuit of Happyness: Social Stratification, Class Conflict, and the Resilient Climb to Success

This movie goes in depth when discovering conflicting issues within classes in society. The conflict theory is “a theoretical framework in which society is viewed as composed of groups that are competing for scarce resources.” (Henslin, 2012, p. 8). Since Chris was born into a different social class, his family passed on social disadvantages and privileges that many of his fellow interns didn’t have to face. Coming from a different social class, he starts his journey as a broker from an underprivileged standpoint. A financial strain, stress from being a single parent, lack of transportation and housing, and lack of professional attire were all reasons that made Chris disadvantaged in his social class. In society, we are shown that the upper class usually controls the lower class by keeping them from being any type of competition. When coming from an upper-class family, you have more time to pursue and achieve any goals or competitive jobs since they come from a family who has a generous amount of money and is able to hire people to help out their family. Since Chris don’t have adequate fund and stability, he is forced to spend his time working dead-end jobs just to get by through the days. This does not give their class a reasonable chance to strive, so they continue the pattern of their lives, starting at the bottom. This is an example of how the conflict theory shows the control of the higher class over the lower class.

The following theories show how social stratification and division can be harmful to society. Chris’s place was at first in the proletariat society, which is made up of mass workers exploited by the bourgeoisie society, which consists of capitalists who own the means to produce wealth (Henslin, 2012, p. 28). His talent allowed him to move upward on the social ladder, which allowed him to start his family in a new social class. On the other hand, this is not a benefit that comes with living in poverty for the lower classes. Even though his success was founded in the end, Chris still had to falsely take on the characteristics of an upper-class man when he was working with his future employers in the company. The conflict between the two groups was so countless that Chris had no other choice but to hide his lower-class characteristics so he could be considered for a position. Regardless of the difficulties and obstacles that he had to face, Chris still was able to achieve his goal and make it into the higher class.

What is happiness, and how do we successfully achieve this goal? Chris Gardner not only answered those questions, but he backed it up with the real-life consequences he had to face to reach his goal. I watched Chris’s strain and journey on the social ladder; I also gained an understanding of the social functions of class and status and just how much they affect a person’s success. Chris was able to rise above the average for his social group as he challenged certain stereotypes and class. We are shown that social standing is not set in stone; they are always a way to move up and down in social standings. The Pursuit of Happyness is a very inspiring film as it represents the struggles that many face, especially those who live in poverty or in a third-world country. In the end, we are shown that we can accomplish anything as long we put our minds to it. 


  1. Gardner, Chris. “The Pursuit of Happyness.”
  2. Henslin, James M. “Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach.”
  3. Bourdieu, Pierre. “Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste.”
  4. Ehrenreich, Barbara. “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.”
  5. Marx, Karl and Engels, Friedrich. “The Communist Manifesto.”

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