Culture is society’s reflection of our collective feelings and expression – through both our material belongings and our internal beliefs. Culture can be expressed through a number of settings, including gender roles, artistic expression, language, religious beliefs, and social conventions.
But what happens when people become disinterested and disenfranchised with the social norms of our culture and society? What happens when individuals choose to express themselves outside of what’s considered normal or acceptable?
This is when subcultures are created.
Subcultures are groups who oppose the social norms and values of the majority. Before the Internet, visible subcultures and countercultures included Goths, bikers, or fans of heavy metal or hip hop music.
The Internet age has both inspired and held venue for a number of interesting or prominent modern subcultures. Here’s a list of six interesting, strange and sometimes bizarre Internet subcultures:
Seapunk supposedly originated on Tumblr in 2011. This subculture was associated with an under-the-sea motif and style of fashion. It is also regularly paired with nostalgic and vintage Internet iconography, recalling Internet Explorer in the early 2000s. Seapunk heavily takes inspiration from pop culture and has expanded from an Internet aesthetic into a full-fledged subgenre of dance music. Mainstream musical acts like Azealiea Banks and G-Eazy have utilized this subculture into their image and style.
Inspired by the early days of Internet graphics and design, Vaporwave is a surrealistic journey into the aesthetic marriage of analog and digital. Like Seapunk, it also spawned a musical subgenre with a strong Internet following. This subculture thrives on sampling and reflecting on the past, often incorporating dated, gaudy 1980s style – like columns or cityscapes into it’s aesthetic. Popular acts include Saint Pepsi, Blank Banshee, Macintosh Plus, Com Truise and countless others. While self-professed Internet trendsetters have often declared Vaporwave a thing of the past, it keeps popping back into relevancy.
3. Health Goth
Appearing back as early as 2014, Health (or Gym) Goth has been sieged by countless cool kids and online trend chasers. The subculture is aesthetically based, a reflection on the culture of anti-aging and the ideals of tailing flawlessness. Visual themes of this culture include BDSM, simple retro net graphics, artificial intelligence, and most importantly, black sportswear. The Health Goth subculture was able to transcend the Internet, often appearing in Brooklyn gyms and other exercise venues.
Soft grunge might be the most relevant subculture on this list. Curated by the cool-girls of the post-Internet era (think Charli XCX), this subculture has completely into mainstream culture with the help of Urban Outfitters and Lollapalooza. But it still deserves a spot on this list. Inspired by the riot-gurrrl acts of the 90s, soft grunge takes the elements of grunge that are applicable and retools them with an unapologetic feminine twist.
Generally perceived as youth subculture, Hacker culture has evolved from the days of early Internet hacking into a much more sophisticated and social conscious counterculture. Groups like Anonymous represent the face of Hacker culture, standing up against discrimination and the corruption of bureaucracy. The visuals of this subculture vary considerably and it stands as the vaguest, most ill-defined sub/counterculture on the list.
Culture cultivates the social norms held by the majority of a population, often without much leniency. While Internet subcultures can range from fan culture to food culture and everything in between, this list of five youth subcultures are all Internet-originated.
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