What is a subculture? How do you become part of a subculture? What type of subcultures exists online? Is there a subculture that I want to be part of? These are all questions I began asking when I was first introduced to this topic. I have never been completely into online subcultures merely because I had never been involved with one before!
I was in awe though once my research started of how many subcultures actually existed online- and additionally, how many subcultures existed that I could picture myself being a part of. Before I begin to dive into the subcultures that I found online I want to give a brief overview of subcultures themselves.
So What Is A Subculture?
A subculture defined by Urban Dictionary is “a branch off from mainstream culture embracing it’s own unique style. Often times, as more and more people do it, pieces of various subcultures become mainstream.” Subcultures exist both in actual real world and the online world- there are subcultures based on race, religion, sexuality and specific interests that go from extremely broad to extremely specific topics. It is almost impossible to not find a subculture that interests you in some way- and if you can’t find one- you can create one easily.
Where and When Did Subcultures Start?
Subcultures existed long before the internet was created. One of the first subcultures created was in the 1930s in Germany and consisted of teenagers who were known for “break[ing] the rules of social etiquette”, this subculture was called The Swing Kids. The Swing Kids were part of a jazz era. It brought tons of individual together- like our modern day subculture, to bond over their love of jazz and rebellious lifestyle.
How Has The Internet Helped Subcultures?
People say that with the internet- anything possible. I cannot agree with this more. Subcultures have been able to thrive with the internet for a variety of reasons. Not only can people connect with others online through forums, but subcultures are able to be created with a simple click of a button. People around the world, who will possibly never meet in person, are able to join a subculture and become completely immersed in it. Like the Swing Kids from 1930, subcultures online are able to voice their opinions, recruit others, and bond with one another.
One main aspect of the internet that I find most helpful for subcultures, is the ability to schedule in person meet-ups and conventions. Although subcultures can exist solely online, having the ability to connect thousands of people and be able to set up a meeting time and location simply amazes me. The internet is bringing thousands of people together who without the internet most likely would not know existed.
What Are Some Subcultures Around Today?
One of the first major subcultures that I had heard about was Bronies . Bronies are “fans of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” that is outside the target demographic of little girls.” My Little Pony, originally targeted at young girls, has become a much larger phenomenon then expected and has reached a group of individuals that the creator had not expected to reach: teenager and adult men.
Yes. What might seem bizarre to some- is actually a huge part of others lives. Bronies not only communicate online with one another through forums, but also attend meet-ups and conventions. Like any subculture- controversy can arise from these unique, new subcultures. Bronies like the others have their own contraversies one being the idea of masculinity and how My Little Pony has “challenged the nature of masculinity”
Bronies has grown to become a very recognized and respected subculture- and as said previously as subcultures became larger and more accepted- this merges into mainstream…which although this has not just yet, it could someday.
Another example is Living Dolls. Living Dolls are…
“young women (time will tell if the subculture will eventually include men) who have modified their faces and bodies through cosmetic surgery, diet, and/or makeup in order to take on a doll-like appearance with any or all of the following: large eyes, tiny mouths and noses, large breasts, small waists, and poreless, airbrushed-looking complexions”
Starting in Japan online- this phenomenon has spread all over the world. This living dolls culture has extended to men also.
“As early as 2010 it was reported that an increasing amount of Japanese women were aspiring to look like dolls, embracing femininity and obliterating sexuality altogether”
A last example that I found was woodworking. Woodworking, which seems as a more ‘normal’ activity to the mainstream- is still a subculture in itself.
Woodworking, to some is more then just a common activity. Members of www.woodworkingtalk.com are able to talk on open forums, once registered, with other users on a varied of ‘woodworking’ topics including “designs, joinery, trim carpentry, woodturning, wood finishes, tools and project showcases.”
Why Are Subcultures Important?
Subcultures are important for a variety of reasons. However, I find one specific reason why subcultures are extremely important that is: it allows those who might not fit in with the mainstream culture to find people who have similar interests and encourages them to become involved.From observing different subcultures online and browsing through different peoples interactions you can see the passion that specific individuals have for the subculture they are involved in.
Interested in something maybe a little unusual that you think others might be interested in also? Hop online and do some searching- who knows what subcultures you’ll find online. If you can’t find what you are looking for…START YOUR OWN! All of these subcultures online had to start somewhere.