Funny how at 3am when I cannot sleep I turn to blogging. I suppose as far as therapy goes, this is one of safer, less expensive alternatives.
Since my mind seems fixated on considering the future and it’s possibilities this morning, I naturally drift to the things that bring me excitement, passion, and joy. While many of them are vastly different than the other, I realized just today that they all share a similar title; that being ‘Subculture’.
Subculture is popularly defined as “an ethnic, regional, economic, or social group exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish it from others within an embracing culture or society” – in other words, it is a circle, within the circle of one’s culture, that becomes so focused on one or a few things that it’s members begin to look and speak and move differently than the lot around them.
I suppose that every interest group could be loosely tagged with the title, but I think some are more difficult to hide than others, and I believe it’s that bit that grabs my attention the most. Call it our generations’ lack of attention span or my being exposed to many different environments as a youth, but I have never been able to choose just one thing, without something else shiny eventually grabbing my attention. As a kid it was always video games, and fantasy books, and playing basketball outside, and car magazines. As an adult, I find myself pulled in similar ways. Hi-lighting personal fitness, just in this past year I have had a serious go (many not for the first time) at Long distance running, yoga, martial arts, Cross-fit, and reliving my glory days on the track running sprints. The consistent interests of my adulthood seem for me to be fitness, automobiles, dance, and photography. Enjoy links to each of these at the bottom 😉
Let’s get to the point though – why am I, and I suspect many of you, so attracted to these groups of committed people?
- They are, for the moment, happy. For many, this thing they are doing is what brings them happiness, or what relieves stress, or reminds them what is important. Happy, fulfilled people (even if temporarily) are attractive people.
- They are committed. There are 1,000 other things they could be spending their time and money on, but they have weighed the costs and invested in this group. That is also known as sacrifice, and greatness of any kind requires it. Try and emulate what someone respected in a such a group has done, and you will face that truth sooner than you may have wished.
- Diversity. Subculture can breed it like few other catalysts I’ve seen. I briefly mentioned my being a breakdancer or bboy, and for those 8 years or so, some of the most diverse crowds I saw were at these competitions. There is a nearly palpable feeling of family, love, and friendship alongside an undeniable desire to win, but I was always amazed at who would attend. I quickly learned that this, thing, was something for everyone, and that I couldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. And not only with ethnicity, but diversity of thought is apparent as well. People coming together with non conventional goals often means they have a slightly altered value system compared to the ‘norm’.
- Membership. It is human nature to be exclusive, and being accepted into a group that feels it is ‘not open to all’ is heady stuff. In typical fashion, C.S. Lewis gives brilliant observation to this in his essay, The Inner Ring, “It is a terrible bore, of course, when old Fatty Smithson draws you aside and whispers, “Look here, we’ve got to get you in on this examination somehow” or “Charles and I saw at once that you’ve got to be on this committee.” A terrible bore… ah, but how much more terrible if you were left out! It is tiring and unhealthy to lose your Saturday afternoons: but to have them free because you don’t matter, that is much worse. We have seen time and time again in cinema and life how Mike or Jessica tries something out of the ordinary because someone who was ‘in’ offered an invitation.
If I could spend the rest of my life observing how these ‘Inner Rings’ work and influence and influence others, I’d never be short on interesting stories to tell. At the end of the day, they are made up of people, and people, no matter what their background or personality, never fail to provide a story.
The Inner Ring