Cult of the anti-chic

It’s truly interesting to sit back and observe the droves of social malcontents. Like some freakish exhibit at a poorly kept zoo, these strange creatures of counterculture shrink from the lights of inquiry only to pounce when we are no longer mindful of their presence.

Yes, the nonconformist is truly an interesting specimen.

Often hard pressed to name just what they are not conforming to, falling back on Boogie Men like advertising and big business, nonconformists seem ever confident that they are silent warriors fighting a valiant battle against some oppressive ƜberCorp. Like a paranoid schizo, an entire subset of our society constantly looks over their shoulders and sees some vile institution creeping up behind them.

What few nonconformists seem to realize is that listening to Rage Against the Machine, supporting a free Tibet, and opposing everything with a logo does not make you different. It makes you exactly like every other would-be rebel.

Similarly, having a circled A on your person doesn’t signal a particular anti-government sentiment, it simply lets all the other people on the bus know how bad and dangerous you think you are, and yes, they probably will laugh when you get off. And many years from now, when you tell your psychologist how everyone laughed at you, remember that the reason is simple.

Being an anarchist, or nonconformist or any other imagined form of social deviant because you want to be like your favorite band, or because you think it’s cool, is just as bad as shopping at the Gap and buying Nikes. People who place such an importance on being different will inevitably end up occupying the same niche as every other nonconformist, and thereby conform.

Sure, these counterculture bohemians are right not to shop at the Gap. The clothes there look like they’re from some nightmarish mannequin orgy. However, having poor fashion designers doesn’t mean the Gap is out to conquer the minds of middle America, it simply means that people who shop there religiously have bad taste. And no, protesting is not a viable solution.

Sure, you could object to the use of child labour, but wouldn’t you be abandoning your precious relativism and understanding? Why is it we are understanding about everything and everyone except those who are ahead of us? But I digress.

What the nonconformists of the world need to realize is that if you want to be different you can’t look to the pop-protester movement, the free Tibet groupies, or the neo-hippie environmentalists. Truly bizarre individuals are self-made. There is no handbook to nonconformity.

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