My Melancholy Life by Mimielle

Counterculture –vs- Subculture, a small conversation with myself

Hey Addicts, Mimielle here from and I hope the Season of the Curses, unlucky 13 is not setting you back this spring. With Mercury finally out of retrograde now our communications should have become a lot clearer but it’s still good to take some time to think about our words, their meanings, their definitions and most of all their effect and impact…on ourselves, on others…even the words we use in our thoughts to our secret selves have a very big effect.  Choose them carefully if you want the magic of change from within to really take hold and if you are looking to take control of your own destiny, especially if you tend to sometimes feel ‘battered by the fates, unlucky or even yes, maybe cursed.

Today I was thinking about alternative cultures…meaning the walks of life of all kinds that do not quite cleave to the norms or march to the beat of the mainstream…maybe some are only a little different, some are definitely a lot, maybe some are more about style, likes and dislikes, the more superficial differences and then some are more fundamental to our very identity. So when it is a subculture and when are we counterculture revolutionaries, and when is it right to be so and when is it maybe not so important to expend the extra energy on? Let’s take a look:

First I pondered on the word culture itself….

Within society, culture is defined in several ways:

The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.

 A refined understanding or appreciation of culture.

The attitudes and behaviour characteristic of a particular social group.

So what is the difference between a subculture and a counterculture and why are they important to both define and note the distinction?

Let’s again define…

A subculture is “A cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture.”

Whereas a Counterculture is “A way of life and set of attitudes opposed to or at variance with the prevailing social norm.”

(all definitions were taken from the Oxford Living Dictionary.)

So…because a counter-culture implies an actual opposition, covert or overt, it expends a LOT more energy than just a belief or interest, a fashion or even a different lifestyle as defined by a subculture. A person with a subcultural difference can more often still get along in the mainstream world much easier than one with countercultural beliefs, feelings or even a way of being that runs countercultural to the main culture where they live. What does this all mean in a nutshell?

Several things. First of all, hate crimes know no bounds or neat definitions and examples like Sophie Lancaster’s murder began conversations that are still going on.  There is no easy answer to this just a lot of questions that are important to keep asking ourselves, our family and friends and our society

  People with a countercultural foundation belief or state of being often feel as if they have to fight to even have the right to be heard or acknowledged at all or sometimes to even BE at all.

On the other hands, subcultural ennui runs rampant, running the gamut from triviealizing things via meaninglless shouting matches onthe internet to having quiet converasions that may contain the seeds of change.  We do everything from get really angry and lobby and write letters, sometimes we shrug it off, sometimes we write poetry, make art, write plays and dramas about it in order to both act it out n the public arena and to be heard in a creative way, to make an act of revolution in a small way.

The ennui can also be really strong and the feeling of being misunderstood or not heard, a huge influencing factor in our everyday lives but I still do *personally* not think it is not the same as someone who had a countercultural belief or state of being which makes their actual everyday life much more difficult. I have avoided examples because I do not have a strong countercultural standpoint in my life, just a very strong subcultural one. But I have empathy for my friends and loved ones who do live countercultural lives every day, not usually by choice of their own making and I see their struggle and I know it goes deeper than MY own subculture feelings of “other-ness” or “outsider-ness” because I can still blend in if I CHOOSE to without compromising who I am or my core beliefs. Many countercultural revolutionaries cannot. Does that mean the feeling of outsider-ness or other-ness we feel as members of a subculture are diminished? Of course not. At minimum, we have all gotten ‘the look’, the eyeroll, the stares, heard the whispers, maybe been challenged. But I believe turning out in our everyday lives with our subcultural signals is an important part of letting mainstream culture know that the differences, great or small are important.

What do you think, Addicts, when you have the chance to stand out and stand strong, do you take it? I encourage you too. Not to be unsafe or to endanger yourself or others but to push the envelope, to widen that main stream into a bigger river that someday maybe can include us all as we are and as we need and want to be. No matter your sub, counter or mainstream culture Addicts, stay strong and stay beautiful.

The previous column is a lifestyle and opinion piece and reflects the personal opinions and thoughts of Mimielle and doesn’t represent or the other staff members. In this lifestyle column, from time to time, controversy can (and should) erupt and we welcome frank and open discussion and comments as long as everyone remains respectful and civil to one another.