Badge by Veronica Dearly. Click here for info
What the fuck is it with people who think everyone has to fit some kind of template in order to be accepted as part of a social grouping? What if a person doesn’t actually CARE whether they’re part of the group or not?
Sometimes you end up being perceived as part of a social group / subculture, even though you’ve never professed to be. This has happened to me on several occasions – and the most common reason for it is people assuming I am a ‘goth’. I’ve used parentheses there because actually I don’t think there IS a set ‘goth’ template, and nor should there be. But because I’ve spent my life enjoying wearing black and listening to gloomy music in darkened rooms (hey, everyone needs a hobby), I am invariably classed as A Goth.
And actually, I’m fine with that. There’s worse things to be – a Tory or a Trump voter, say. So being labelled as part of a subculture which is generally very openminded and understanding is coolbeans by me. The problem is that, the second you accept that yeah, you’re probably part of this group whether you actually meant to be or not, you get people telling you you’re doing it WRONG.
It’s a basic human right to be a complete nob at times – the knack is in learning not to do it intentionally. No one can be perfect and we’re all guilty of shooting our mouths off only to think later on ‘Eep, that was probably a bit much.’ And we all have moments when we think we’re RIGHT and fuck anyone who says differently.
But so often there’s a malicious delight taken in scoring points by publicly sniping at others. Let’s get this clear right now – if you do this, the only result is that you look like a narrow-minded idiot with too much time on your hands.
I was pondering this recently after being notified that I’d been tagged in a couple of posts that an acquaintance had made on Facebook. Turned out they disliked something I’d written online and decided to tell everyone what they thought, taking care to make sure I’d see each mention of my name.
Thing is, I’m used to this. I write loads of stuff online, because writing online is my actual professional job. And ‘slagging off in the comments’ is pretty much par for the course when you are publicly associated with a tabloid-style website (which is the sort I most often write for). People disagree with me quite often and I fully expect them to because if no one ever did then the world would be a very poor place (mostly because I would make a shit dictator and would forget to do the admin). I’m fine with being disagreed with, because we all have different views and so long as you can back those views up, we’re cool.
But if you’re just doing it because you think you’re somehow ‘better’? Fuck that sideways.
This most recent situation was prompted by an article I’d written about goths – the person concerned was clear that they didn’t think I had any right to declare something to be ‘goth’ (it was an article about ‘Christmas gifts for goths’, so yeah it involved a lot of my own personal choices as to what would make a Good Goth Gift).
We all know how defensive subcultures can be, even when we see ourselves as part of them. But let’s just think about this for a minute. If you belong to what you like to see as a defined social group – defined by their very ‘otherness’, no less – then you don’t get to complain when someone does it in a way you don’t like. Because if you want everyone to do it the way you think they should, then in effect you are simply becoming another sheep in the generic flock.
Just so’s we’re clear on this – I DON’T GIVE A SHIT WHETHER OTHER PEOPLE THINK I’M DOING THINGS THE RIGHT WAY. Because there is no ‘right way’. Whether you’re 12 or 25 or 80, if you want to ‘be’ something then be it. Do – and be – whatever you like, it’s no one else’s fucking business. And don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing things wrong. No one person ‘owns’ a subculture, and they don’t get to say what defines that subculture, either.
Be you, carry on being you, and fuck the haters.
*possibly with a hedgehog.