NEW YORK—What is lifestyle in the internet age? If the speakers and attendees at the Racked meetup last May 17 were any indication of how the world of tech and publishing could learn more from each other, this is that meetup. But unfortunately, not many tech people, especially those targeting millennial consumers, come to this type of meetup.
The panel consisted of young journalists: Julia Rubin, Racked features editor and moderator; Helen Rosner, executive editor at Eater; Kyle Chayka, writer and contributor to Racked, The Guardian and The New Yorkers; Alanna Okun, senior editor at BuzzFeed; Rachel Miller, senior lifestyle editor at Buzzfeed and Mark Lotto, co-founder at Matter Studios.
The millennial panel defined lifestyle in many ways:
Rosner: It’s consumer identity as a force. It’s something that allows advertisers to reach readers.
Chayka: It’s so abstract. It means nothing and everything you do. It’s the things you most consume or identify with. Lifestyle is composed of objects you identify yourself with
Miller: Everything you do that is not work. Some are essential like food and shelter
Okun: It’s the choices (we put) in or around the body.
Lotto: It’s brands that (give) a distinct voice
From there, the panel’s discussed flowed freely– with almost no moderation.
On how social media impacts lifestyle, Rosner said it allows us to “show the best version of ourselves. Lifestyle is curation. Lifestyle covers you. It’s this reflecting game.”
But she is also quick to point out how the individual product has become less important. “The barriers are not money anymore.”
For her, lifestyle provides excitement: “Lifestyle is when readers need to hang their excitement on something. Everybody is so tired of their jobs.”
And what do bored people tired of their jobs do? “They travel,” she said. “Everything you want to be is a secret (but they have to be) balanced with (good lifestyle advice).
And where do people get these tips and advice if not the magazine. “The format of a magazine is suited for lifestyle.”
Similar to a magazine these days is Pinterest, where Okun said she just spent the whole day figuring out the people Buzzfeed responds to. Lifestyle is also about learning who your readers are. And based on the chuckles from the crowd when Rubin said, “very cerulean” when echoing some of the thoughts by the panel, you know the audience has seen “The Devil Wears Prada.”
Beyond Pinterest, Rosner said Instagram has taught people the secrets of magazine photography. With Instagram, everyone seems to have her own magazine online.
“They don’t need to pay us a hundred dollars to take their photos. It’s richly democratizing,” she said.
“Things can make them happy..What is unattainable is now attainable,” she added.
Not only that, she said “you are communicating massive multi-consumption about yourself with just one coat.”
What is social media if not a lifestyle magazine, it seems. Said Lotto, “We’re carrying it in our pocket. It’s beautiful, immersive, rich.”
What is the future of social media?
Rosner addressed this question seriously, “For PR, it’s not always best way to do pitch traditional printing.”
What’s the next big thing? The panel had some fun answering this question.
Rosner said, “Our parents’ parties.”
Chayka: “Ugliness is going to be back. Aggressively ugly things”
Miller: Analog note-taking”
Rosner gave some serious thought on the question of globalization of lifestyle because she thought her answer can be a scary thought. “Globalization is where you can get everything here (New York),” she said.
If that is the case, the panelists nodded as if in agreement, because what would be the point of discovery if you can find everything easily, if everything is within reach.