Cultural shifts to watch in 2024

From AI anxiety to common ground to post-nihilism

Editor’s note: Each year cultural insight specialist Victoria Gerstman gives us her cultural shifts to watch for the year ahead. They remain some of the most popular pieces of insight with our readers. In case you missed the past two years, read them here: Cultural shifts to watch in 2022 and Cultural shifts to watch in 2023.

Read on below to see what Victoria predicts we should be paying attention to in the year ahead. From AI anxiety to common ground to post-nihilism, she covers a lot.

From AI anxiety to making friends with the machines

While the technology has existed for years, 2023 was the year many of us deliberately engaged with AI for the first time, most likely via ChatGPT or another Generative AI.

As we head into 2024, we’ll continue to benefit from a closer relationship with Artificial Intelligence, understanding the helpful role it can play (while perhaps still fearing its potential). Legislation and regulation will continue to play catch-up as new uses appear, but in the meantime, it seems prudent to make friends with the machines (if you haven’t already).

AI relationships like Anima’s AI Girlfriend fulfil the need for text-based intimacy, and even promise to help improve relationship skills.

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Custom GPTs, meanwhile, have the potential to provide expert advice on everything from laundry to board games.

From digital fantasies to real-world possibilities

We’ve talked a lot since 2020 about lives moving online, and, in turn, about the push for a return to in-person work, education, and experiences. 2023 showed us that this return to in-person is not without challenges, as many bucked the demands of back to office mandates. Whether willingly or under duress, people across age brackets have adapted and grown accustomed to the ‘rules’ of the online world — including its expansive approach to reality. Where previously we encountered daily lives moving online, as we enter 2024, expect the online world to permeate the real world.

Pinterest predicts shop

Shoppers in New York City can visit the Pinterest Predicts Pop-Up Shop to view and purchase items from Pinterest’s annual trends report.

Netflix is set to host an immersive experience at CES 2024 to bring people into the trailer for its upcoming 3 Body Problem

From curated content to complete co-creation

2023 showed without a doubt the extent to which passive consumption is becoming passé. In addition to underscoring appetite for large-scale in-person experiences, Taylor Swift and Beyonce’s 2023 tours showed how rituals, lore, and fan participation can transform a concert into a phenomenon. As we look back on 2023, we can also muse over whether July would have been such a banner month for cinema-going without the user-generated Barbenheimer meme. Production studio B-Band is reportedly now developing an actual Barbenheimer film, inspired by the fan-created phenomenon. 

In 2024, we won’t just share, engage, and curate content — we will directly influence, design, and create the content we consume. 

YouTube's AI "Dream Screen"

The integration of AI tools within social media platforms makes it easy for anyone to be a content creator. YouTube’s AI suite for creators even suggests the best soundtrack.

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Sundance TV’s True Crime Story: Citizen Detective responds to the well-established true crime genre, taking it a step further to highlight the role amateur detectives have played in solving crimes.

From seeking common ground to lines in the sand

In 2023 there were signs that a push toward empathy might help a world in turmoil find common ground. We talked about generational conflicts being overblown, and the desire for connection after periods of intense isolation. We appear, however, to be heading for a polarized outlook in 2024. People are engaging deeply with world issues, in a way that threatens the limits of friendships, spurring disagreements that do not necessarily fall along clear political divides.

New protests erupted in 83 countries in 2023, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Global Protest Tracker. With 40 countries hosting general elections in 2024, including the anxiously anticipated US presidential election, further discord is all but inevitable.

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A study by the Pew Research Center showed “Divisive” to be the most commonly used word when discussing US politics

From crisis fatigue to post-nihilism

If there’s one thing 2023 taught us, it’s that we can never really know what’s going to happen. With permacrisis embedded in the status quo, it would be understandable to be overtaken by hopelessness. Instead, in 2024, expect to see rejection of despair. This does not mean apathy, but rather exploration of alternative options for what it might look like to live well. Whether in new family and relationship structures, new models of work, home, and education, or in unabashedly seeking pleasure while we still can, 2024 will find people embracing life in the not-so-new not-so-normal.

farm volunteer opportunities

HelpStay is an online platform that matches users with volunteer opportunities in various countries, where people can exchange their time and assistance for the chance to live at low or no cost.

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 We Are Childfree is a ‘storytelling project and community that celebrates and empowers childfree lives’

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Opened in London in October, the 15,000-capacity live music venue Drumsheds (whose space was once an IKEA), hosted sell-out events throughout Q4.

Featured image: Anna Tarazevich / Pexels

Victoria Gerstman

Victoria is a cultural insight specialist, working closely with clients to help them keep pace with cultural change. Born and raised in Miami, she has lived in the US, UK, and Japan and brings a multi-national perspective to cultural insight. Victoria has a PhD in Culture, Film, and Media, and enjoys using academic methods to drive tangible business results

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