Subcultures are Icky

I have trouble immersing myself in subcultures. It always seems like the participants are avoiding richer life experiences. There are 12-step subcultures, where people go to several 12-step programs a week plus individual and group therapy plus social events with folks they meet at these meetings. It becomes their whole world. I assume that some people need to be engulfed in it in order to survive their addiction, but I just can’t let the recovery part of it take over my entire life experience.

I’ve recently noticed an online subculture where straight CIS women identify as queer and diss straight CIS folks. While everyone has a right to define themselves, it’s clear to me that these people are presenting what they think of as a hip & cool online facade that doesn’t reflect their offline lives at all.

Music subcultures. People take the music they enjoy and overlay an ethic that in reality is rather inconsistent. So, I may identify as a punk rocker and proclaim everything that punk rock stands for, but then I have to ignore or make exceptions for all the music, musicians and fans who contradict this alleged ethic. People in music subcultures generally seem to revel in the misunderstanding that the rest of the world has about their music and lifestyles. They also enjoy feeling like they belong to a maligned but cooler than everyone else group.

Political subcultures are probably the worst, since adherents tend to dehumanize people outside their subculture. They also, for the most part, like the idea that no matter how much power their group has on the surface, they are, in fact, victims.

Religious subcultures probably do more than any other to shut off human brains. And humans without brains are extremely dangerous and no fun to be around.

Ethnic subcultures glorify in celebrating themselves. They tend to be tinged with the everyone’s-out-to-get-me feeling like music subcultures, but in their case everyone usually is out to get them. 

Economic subcultures also use fear and resentment to keep their members loyal. The same goes for geographic subcultures.

The problem will all subcultures (except the 12-step one) is that they distort people’s ability to think outside of themselves, of their self-interest and group-interest. They are anti-empathetic, even if “empathy” is one of their proclaimed values.

So, to paraphrase the film Quadrophenia, you can take your subcultures and shove them right up your ass.


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