My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Scene Drama

I was just reading ::this:: post by The Everyday Goth, and I thoroughly recommend it - especially if you are a younger Goth in your teens, and are first encountering drama within any scene or subculture. I wrote a fairly long comment on the article, and I think article struck a chord with me. I am not going to repeat what The Everyday Goth has already said; I agree with all the advice she has given and certainly think it is good advice to follow. 

My first observation on scene drama is that there appears to be two kinds of drama - the kind where there is no underlying actual problem other than a person who likes to create drama, and people deliberately wanting drama are creating a storm in a tea cup over nothing much, and the other kind where whatever the underlying argument is, feelings run deep and the actual issue needs to be resolved at some point for it to stop continually resurfacing. 

The first type can be ridden out, and with careful observation those who are either starting or perpetuating the drama for their amusement or for some silly convoluted social politics will be evident, so you can know to avoid those people and their drama. This sort of drama is usually either entirely fabricated with the use of rumours and gossip, or a deliberate escalation of what really ought to be a minor and private matter. A key sign with this sort of drama, and those who start it is that it makes private disagreements as public as possible - people involved will post their personal fallings-out on social media, on forums, and tell everyone who will listen, provide you with screen-caps of sections of privately messaged conversation to "prove" who is in the right, and try and get as many people as possible to join in with the airing of grievances. Whether this is done to deliberately damage someone's reputation or simply because the person in question is wanting to be the centre of attention, similar methods are used, and the dispute being aired is either nonsense or something minor that has been inflated, and is absolutely not worth getting involved in - getting involved will only make matters worse, and is best ignored and left to die of attention starvation. 

The second type is trickier, especially when it is an issue that actually involves the local scene instead of just an issue affecting the personal lives of certain members - say an argument over the management/mismanagement of club nights or the organisation of an event or some such (for example there's been big drama recently in the Lolita community over how certain large Lolita events in America were run, with online petitions being written, and people in communities world-wide getting involved if even as distant commentators). These sorts of dramas are not empty, and while people's personal grievances often get dragged into them, there is usually a larger underlying issue. 

Sometimes it is worth getting involved to get the issue solved, but it has to be done in a way that is constructive rather than causes a rift. These sorts of issues are certainly where The Everyday Goth's advice of picking your battles is important, and knowing where the boundaries are between constructive disagreement and causing a vicious schism. Certainly, if you feel there is a real issue in your community, do what you can to further things, but make sure your behaviour in trying to achieve results does not degenerate to petty tactics. I often see people who think they are campaigning on the side of some variant on righteousness acting in ways that really are not right at all. If there is a problem in your Goth, Lolita or similar community, it needs resolving so that you are a stronger and more cohesive group, not becoming the starting point for a major and divisive issue; divisions in the community will weaken it, will make it harder for people to collaborate and organise things, and generally more difficult for any form of progress to be made, whether it relates to the issue that caused the division or not.

I should not have to really write this guide to good conduct, but as these issues constantly resurface, and often times those perpetuating them seem like perhaps they really have lost touch with what is reasonable in their endeavours rather than are simply nasty people, here it is:

Don't result to personal insults, threats or wishing misfortune on people. It is incredibly childish. I work at a primary school and this is literally the sort of behaviour I sometimes witness in the playground. If you are older than 13, you have no excuse to be acting like this, and even if you are younger than that, you should be learning to make better choices. If I expect better conduct from a child at primary school than what you are doing, you have really, really, stooped low. "You are lower than scum" is just a more elaborate way of saying "You're a poop-head" and no less childish. 

No giant internet battles/flame wars! This is where the entire forum, or even a large section of the online community for a scene, are arguing over the internet with each other. We probably all have better things to spend that time on in our offline lives! Sometimes people on the internet are wrong, and you do not have to make it your personal mission to correct every wrong person. 

No getting an e-posse on side to troll and harass the opposition. It is tempting to tell all your friends about how bad something is and urge them to take action, but be careful about who you are talking to. There are those people who, on hearing about an issue, will take time to look at both sides of the problem, and consider their stance - and only then take action, and if so, will do so with reasoned arguments if participating in discussion, or maybe with signing a petition if it is a big issue, or perhaps write an article on their position that is not vindictive or denegrating the opposition. There are also those who will only have listened to, or understood, half of what you have told them, have no interest in the other side of the matter, jump to conclusions, act purely on a knee-jerk emotional reaction rather than take time to look into things more deeply, and will immediately start with the hateful words and the "I hope you die in a fire" type comments. Think before you tell people things; if a person falls into the second category, telling them may unwittingly escalate things. If you are deliberately inciting the second category of people, that is deliberately provoking drama and it is a) counterproductive to your cause and b) very petty. 

No screaming matches. If you have got to the point where you are actually face-to-face yelling at each other, you have both lost. No progress can be made when emotions are running that high and people are too hurt and too angry to think straight. At this point it is better to walk away and let somebody else take on the role of trying to fix the issue. If it has got as far as a real life argument, then both people arguing are probably very firmly fixed in their perspective, and it is often a complete waste of time arguing with them, especially as the more emotionally attached someone is to an issue, the more likely they are to disregard any reason or evidence that goes counter to their stance. 

Certainly no attempts at trying to bring harsh real-world problems onto those you disagree with. This means no doxxing, no telling people's employers or similar institutions with authority over them that after hours they are goths/fetishists/Pagans/whatever misunderstood group, etc. (something similar happened to me when I was a teen about me being Pagan...). I have even seen petitions to have people fired from their jobs where the issue has absolutely no relation to their employment. Those who start these actions are often being vindictive at worst, or at best hugely misguided in an "the ends justify the means" attempt to improve things, and those who join in to support these actions need to thoroughly consider how destructive the rammification of these actions are. Sometimes the ends do not justify the means, and it is real people being hurt at the other side of a computer screen. 

If there is a real issue in your community that needs to be addressed, try and resolve it like mature adults with discussions, compromises, and simply refusing to participate in events you don't think are run right, or if you think you could do better, actually DOING that. The phrase "I could do better" often crops up in complaints about club nights, amongst the perennial complaints about club nights "the music selection is awful! The venue is awful! The timing is awful! I could do better!!" - but rarely does anyone actually try and do better, because they are just wanting to moan, and neither do they request better tunes, actually contact anyone about improvements to the venue ("the toilet door's broken, it's been that way for years" - so has anyone told the management about this? Has anyone contacted the venue owners? Has anyone made a proper complaint? Maybe even volunteered to fix it?) or suggest better dates - for example, if a club night is mainly patronised by students, it is probably best to host a summer event AFTER university exams are over, so those running the club night need to know when that is. Communicate issues clearly, speak up to those who have the power to change things, and if you honestly think you can do better, have a go; maybe you could be the start of something good!


  1. Just a few days ago I was scolded on a Facebook Gothic group simply because I used the word "Gothic" to refer to certain types of metal music. First came the usual lecture about the origins of our subculture and then came a refusal to acknowledge that my using the word in a descriptive sense had any validity. They concluded the conversation by deciding that I'm a poser. I thought that these people were incredibly rude and closed minded. They were right and I was simply using the English language in the wrong way. Sheesh!

    Sadly, a lot of goths seem to be like this; and it's not very mature of them.

    1. I think "Gothic" to describe certain forms of symphonic metal, especially the sorts that draw on a lot of the imagery of Gothic horror and similar atmospherics, would be an appropriate term to use. I tend to draw a destinction between what is "Goth" and what is "Gothic" - I would never call that music "Goth metal" because it has nothing to do with Goth which is a whole separate genre. Personally, I think you're probably in the right, and they are being pedantic. I understand where they are coming from to a degree because there are a lot of people who will insist that Nightwish, Within Temptation, Epica, etc. are Goth, but you clearly weren't trying to make that argument. I personally quite like Nightwish (I think I've mentioned that before) and I think there's quite a few of Goths who like that genre too. You can like more than one genre without being a poseur! Next they're going to complain about pointed arches being Gothic, surely *eye roll*.

    2. I think you and I see it about the same way when it comes to music. The word "Gothic" for me creates imagery in my mind. It has a different meaning than Goth rock. But, it was the rudeness and insistence that I couldn't possibly be right that bothers me. As you said, maturity is key.

    3. I think people who "can't be wrong" are generally very insecure; it strikes me that if proving their supposedness 'rightness' is so important that they are willing to try and shout it over the facts when they are wrong, then they haven't learnt how to deal with being wrong in both how to cope with it themselves and how to politely concede error to others.

  2. Great article and adding to the post of the Every Day Goth that I read to! Good advice too, thanks!
    Bye bye, Mirjam.

    1. If others write something I feel is helpful, I will try and link to it; my blog is here to educate and there's a lot of other very helpful and sensible Goths giving out on the internet :)


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