I first realized that I am goth at age fifteen, the summer before my Freshman year of high school. There weren’t many other goths in my school. I had a small diverse group of friends, but I was always my own person. It’s difficult to pin-point where on the social tier I fit within the typical high school social groups. I didn’t socialize with the popular crowd; neither did I despise them. We all simply existed. In fact, by senior year, one so-called popular classmate complimented my Elizabeth-Taylor-as-Cleopatra-inspired winged eyeliner.
I took a short break from wearing all black after I entered college. I had gone through the three-year-long process of removing the built-up black hair dye from my high school years, substituting my black clothes for baby pink and baby blue; however, it didn’t last long. I gradually missed my dark hair and black clothes.
Goth has never been a phase for me.
The most popular Goth site when I was a Baby Bat was VampireFreaks. As a social networking site, the population was from young teens up until middle-aged Elder Goths. For some reason, I waited until I was seventeen. To this day, the images of fellow Goths with their flawlessly lined eyes, beautifully-blended eyeshadow and various hair styles inspire me. Most of my selfies involve looking down to show whatever eye makeup I decided on that day. That is goth to me: dark and glamorous. I won’t go into detail about the controversial downfall of VF or why it’s merely a store, today.
I do want to discuss the painfully frustrating experience of trying to find an equivalent social site. The basics are usually present: A free profile site with the option to spend money for premium, a place on your profile for pictures, likes, dislikes, bands, links to more well-known social networking, and so on; complete with an ability to comment on and message others. The most social aspect of the site is found in the groups, or as VF called them “cults,” to meet more specifically like-minded people on a site with fellow alternative people.
So, what’s missing? The community. Where the hell is the community?
There are plenty of decent profiles, expressing all the usual Goth interests and appearances, but no one truly interacts, anymore. It’s not like it was when VF was at its most popular among the outcasts.
Not to mention, most of these available sites have been thoroughly bombarded by “normies.” I don’t tend to use that word, but what other word is there? Non-goths?
You may be wondering why non-goths would join a clearly alternative/goth site. There are a few most common explanations.
One: Men of all ages have a fascination with the concept of a “Goth Girl.” We are fetishized. Although, I myself do not identify as a “girl,” I do present mostly feminine; therefore, I am frequently put in the category; especially, by non-goths seeking goths. If you, the reader, are not familiar with the degree to which feminine-presenting goths are treated by the general public both on and offline, allow me to enlighten you: cat-calling is widespread. Due to our lifestyle and appearance, the average guy takes this as a sign that we do not deserve an ounce of respect. We’re prostitutes without a price tag, seeking a quickie with strangers; usually, involving BDSM.
Note: In case there is any confusion, goth in itself is not a BDSM or sex community. It is not theistic or LaVeyan Satanism. For more information on the difference between the two, please refer to my article The Devil: Lucifer vs. Satan vs. Satanism. This article is not about the definition of Goth or what the community is about. If the reader is interested, feel free to check out Goths Are Artists: The Truth About Gothic Subculture. Thank you.
Two: Facebook has taken over everything. This isn’t horrible, but it does pose a problem. Facebook does not require one on one messaging. The majority of socializing on Facebook is engaging in post comments. This would be helpful if it weren’t for the fact that, in my personal experience, trying to take common thoughts to the next level with a message and friend request tends to lead to a dead end. It seems like Facebook is little more than a place of competition for who has the most friends. People like when you add them, but each friend disappears into a blackhole of endless strangers in a list. The sole-purpose of “Facebook friends” has become a visual that there are plenty of fish in the sea of people likely to comment on posts and photos. There is no longer much desire to get to know each other on a deeper level.
Of course, this is not only an issue for alternative people. Many others find this difficult; however, specifically in regard to the Goth community, this creates another level to the problem of finding each other. Sure, I like connecting with others through likes and positive comments about a goth outfit or band, but that’s about as deep as it usually goes; unless, debates break out under a post. Sadly, even all that effort is usually lost because it rarely results in an everlasting friendship with the person/people you related with at the time.
Three: Goth sites have become an outlet for people seeking attention. In order to be noticed at all, most of the time, one has to be especially eye-catching. If your makeup doesn’t grab people or you’re wearing too much clothing, chances are that members won’t give you a second glance. Toward the end of VF’s run, the most important feature of the site became the profile rating system. Users could agree to be given up to ten points from viewers and after achieving enough points, they would be featured on the homepage. Oddly, the majority of the times that I looked into these profiles, I noticed a theme: they rarely had anything of depth in their profile; normally, they had the same well-known goth bands, likes and dislikes; and they happened to be good-looking and/or talented with makeup.
I wish that this post could contain a creative solution for my fellow alternative people with the same struggle to find real connections within the community, but I am at a loss.
As a ’90s kid/goth, allow me to leave you with some thoughts from one of my favorite goths, Angela Benedict. She entered the scene before the internet was a thing. Her observations from within the subculture are as comical as they are informative. There have always been what she calls “false gatekeepers.” These are the types always inserting themselves into conversations with the purpose of proving their wisdom of the scene and gaining an audience. In person, this happens less frequently; however, online it can be more common because information is so accessible. Their so-called knowledge is almost always merely repeating something that they only recently learned on a basic goth fact site, all to show off:
…I suppose the moral of the story here is to really know the difference between a goth that genuinely wants to help you and a false gatekeeper. Just because someone is an elder in the scene and they’ve been around longer, it doesn’t mean that you command a certain respect…You treat others the way that you yourself want to be treated…Know that reality versus online are two entirely different worlds…Angela Benedict. Goth is Not A Popularity Contest
Editor’s Note: This is an original post by this author in 2021.