The World Of Goth: What Has Become Of It In The Age Of Social Media

How the spooky music-based subculture is surviving as it endures the highs and lows of the internet.
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The gothic subculture has been around since the emergence of the post-punk music revolution in the late 70s, through the 80s, and so forth. From what started off as a music-based culture surrounding pioneer goth bands such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, and Sisters of Mercy, producing mellow, eerie, and dramatic sounds, to the ongoing, inward social media battle between new-age, self-proclaimed 'goths' and the goths (elder goths) that reside in the knowledge and/or experience in the subculture's original history.

   In the age of the internet and social media, we have access to an abundance of information and utilization of different platforms for communication to find groups and communities that we feel we belong to. They are also powerful tools for self-expression of one's identity, personality, talent, and so forth. Therefore, with platforms like FaceBook, Instagram, YouTube, and even TikTok, you can't miss the number of Gothic users (young and old) that express themselves in a time where acceptance of oneself and others is very important. While celebrating and expressing a different or unique part of oneself is not a bad thing, but nowadays it's become rather 'trendy' to show off differences and uniqueness to the point where it's now of the norm, but not in an organic kind of way; let me explain.

   As mentioned above about how the goth subculture is a music-based culture, it emerged where a section of society harbored its puritanical counterparts toward music, entertainment, fashion, etc. Goth was one of those things where it was heavily criticized by fear-mongering, Bill O'Reilly-type conservative groups, pearl-clutching moms, puritanical religious zealots, and cliche-brained school bullies; hurling common accusatory questions and phrases like 'Are you a satanist?', 'Are you going to a funeral?', 'Why are you dressed like this?', 'Why can't you be normal?', 'Witchcraft!', 'You're going to Hell!', 'Halloween's over!'- I could go on and on. The same rhetoric toward punk, metal, and alternative music subcultures at the time as well, where the edgy outlook in fashion and music is the prime focus, but not the individual's true selves. While there were no social media at the time, goths found a way to congregate in underground and local clubs to express who they are, listening and yes, dancing to the music they enjoy, and just enjoying the common interests of each other, thus forming various communities of their own. Non-conformity resonated with the youth that they were inspired by the music and thus their fashion and interests were seen as 'shocking' or 'corrupt'. It was either conform or be outcasted with the 'freaks'. There are still remnants of that judgemental and hateful rhetoric that exists race-wise, sex-wise, and even culture-wise, and people are discriminated against and killed just because. In 2007, in the UK, a young woman named Sophie Lancaster was killed for that same reason, she too was goth, and is one of the unfortunate victims of irrational and narrow-minded hatred.

   It's become a 'luxury' nowadays to be different or unique because it's a risk to be such. But the difference between being goth, to say, being black or gay is that being goth is a choice(a risky cultural choice); some people join in and some people find other interests, but it's risky because you could walk out donning a full-on Morticia make-up, a victorian corset, ripped jean tights, and platform boots and you get stared at, insulted, or afraid of. Now that shouldn't mean that we abandon what we're passionate about. Life has risks and people are going to say things about you until the end and there's nothing we could do about, but do our own thing; cause that's what pisses them off, us being content in who we are while, adding spice to our lives while they live blander than a plain bagel.

   If you're on social media a lot, especially YouTube, you can find videos upon videos of TikTok compilations of Alt or Goth users showing off their edgy fashion, poses, and quips. The main thing is when you have people who have been in the subculture for quite a good period of time coming across what we call 'baby bats', and when asking what or who their favorite goth band is, the most common replies are 'Evanescence', 'My Chemical Romance', 'Marilyn Manson', or 'Billie Eilish'. To put it bluntly, those are not goth bands. Then here comes the 'elitist' tag when anyone tries to correct them on what bands produce goth music and thus telling them that the music they listen to is more emo, metal, or darkly inclined. Not to mention the sugar-coated 'Goth is a mindset' where it may sound inclusive, but that means someone who wears pink dresses and listens to pop music can call themselves goth without having any idea what it is. The word 'elitist' gets thrown around carelessly and childishly to shut down a simple conversation or polite correctness of information. It's understandable that they're young and are trying to explore their personalities and identity, as well as trying to fit in with a group that they think works for them. There are always elitists in any group that will try to childishly gatekeep others for selfish and rude reasons, but to label anyone that tries to guide you and present actual information an 'elitist' is quite childish in of itself. 

   The internet can be a blessing, but also a curse because while it's an accessible form of information, communication, and self-expression, it can also be a gateway for disinformation, clout, click-baiting. Where the goth subculture is involved, people take advantage of the meaning of being different and unique from the norm and use it to seek attention or 'clout-chase' to gain views. You'll have under-viewed goth YouTubers spreading misconceptions about the subculture and flaunting their fashion and materials. Goth Youtubers such as Black Friday or Cemetary Confessions, while are more accepting to those who aren't even goth and welcome them to their content, they too stand by the origin of information of the subculture.

You're probably wondering, "Why should it matter? If they say they're goth, let them. Free country, remember?" Yes, that's true. I too thought of this myself, but I also think back to when something like comic books and anime are given flack and are held precious by nerds such as myself, but they too have become mainstream. The thing is, goth as well as nerd culture were something for outcasts to belong in as the contents were an escape from society that values conformity and shames anyone different, but as time goes by, due to social media being so accessible, it's no surprise that the goth subculture along with alternative, punk, and emo has become mainstream. Anyone can label themselves those things like an accessory to show off how 'cool' or 'edgy' they are and use them to shock their parents, peers, and that over religious neighbor next door. It's rather meta how the same people that looked down upon the subcultures are now wearing those labels that they'll just grow bored of it and find another 'trendy' label to identify themselves as. What was once feared has now become cherished...I guess. It's good that the subculture is thriving the more people take an interest, as long as they learn about it, and grow within it. I used to think that the music I listened to when I was a teenager (Linkin Park, Evanescence, Fall Out Boy) was goth, but thank God for college, experience, and having the technical access of knowledge to knowing what goth is and I happily embraced it and is growing within it.

   

An artist trying to make a living while also trying to deal with the cruel and stupid world through creativity and imagination.

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