. In people’s often tragically comical quests to fit in and develop their identities, many clumsy and ill-conceived stratagems are employed. One that I find particularly repulsive and obnoxious is when someone desperately tries to stand out as an original, or rather the act of falsifying their personality as “cool” or “deep” when really they’re just hiding insecurities.
Watching people as they do this is rather like seeing a snake fellating its own tail; it is gross, counterproductive, and makes the actor feel good at the cost of their personal dignity. The “weird, strange, or truly different” that I’m referring to is also often confused with counterculture (or as I call them, the people who don’t conform in the exact same way). The difference is that counterculture is deliberately trying to be at odds with social norms; and thus, is just another accepted extension of conformity (such as with whiny, predictable teenage rebellion). Truly weird people aren’t against norms just to prove themselves or show off, but because they really are different— as in they THINK differently and for their own reasons.
I’m also certainly not talking about people who deviate from the norm due to mental problems; that is a whole different arena. Now, I am not going to fully define what exactly a weird/different/strange person is like because by definition there’s not just one variety. However, I would like to discuss at some length many of the overused methods that don’t inherently make people weird/strange/different.
I believe the common misconceptions on how to be an individual begins with people attempting to build a false identity based upon the shallow trappings of others who came before them (as in music, clothing, style, lingo). Sometimes, people blindly oppose anything created by the previous generation (also dumb and unfairly limiting), but more often than that, they emulate or steal ideas. In particular, I’m thinking of how attracted and envious many are towards “rebellious” characteristics. It seems like at least half of everyone goes through a phase where they want to be a rock star, a celebrity, or some sort of figure that they see as “badass” or a true “rebel.”
These idols are taken as beyond scrutiny or reproach and thus emulating how they look, think, act, and dress is the quick and safe method of projecting a personality, regardless of if it’s true (or worth a damn in the first place). These fakers are the sorts who fancy themselves different, and you might even hear them boast such ridiculous sentiments as “Well, I’m not like most people” or “I hang out with the weird kids.” Even those who aren’t emulating an idol when they brandish something outlandish upon their person are usually doing it more to impress others and hide insecurities than for their own reasons. How many of these people would still dress/act/pretend to be so unusual if they were all alone or in a place where no one was judging them?
Short answer: Most wouldn’t. Anyhow, within these groups of supposed “weird kids” or “rebels” there’s usually a lot of talk about the people they call “poseurs.” Poseurs are supposed to be the ones who are just faking being weird/strange/different. In my experience, those who go on about “poseurs” all the time tend to be that very thing, as they try to act out their genre’s rebellion fantasies whilst putting others down (often for having opinions outside what their particular group allows). The whole situation is unendingly mockable because you end up with a group of people who claim to be weird, strange, and different, but that crucify each other anytime they act outside of what they’re supposed to be into. Do you realize how backwards that is and how it breaks my brain (mostly with laughter) to see it all around and so prevalent?! These are the accepted “cool kids” of nearly every city or town in the country and they thoroughly blow in a ludicrous, re-lick-u-dick-u-lous way! So how can people not see through this, and how do a bunch of fakers obsessed with their “poseur” witch hunts end up on top? Simple— there are far more of them than there are people who are genuine.
Thus, partly due to my rational hatred of genre zombies who think they’re the “weird kids,” the term “poseur” leaves the dank taste of hypocrisy in my mouth, so I have developed my own word to describe those merely pretending to be weird/strange/different— I call them dabblers. Dabblers are people who fancy themselves weird/strange/different, but they’re just doing it for the now and will ultimately end up on the shores of normalcy after their stereotypical voyage through the seas of rebellion end. In my opinion, nearly everyone involved in counterculture is a dabbler (90+%). Although talk of “poseurs” within cliques has gone on since the dawn of time, few people go further and consider what a true “rebel” or weird/strange/different person would actually be like. First, let’s start with what doesn’t make somebody one.
Below is a short pictoral list of things that are commonly misconstrued as making someone weird, strange, or different:
. There are many other things that are incorrectly connected with being weird, strange, or different, but I just wanted to list some of the big ones to get everyone on my train of thought (putting out the whole list would be exhaustive and I would inevitably miss some; not to mention that new ones that I cannot foresee will eventually arise). Recently, I had the pleasure of witnessing one of my influences (John Waters) live and on stage.
In his act, he muses about what rarities would be included in a modern-day freak show, one of which he said would be a man without any tattoos. I thought this comment was both witty and insightful, as it shows how something that was once rare and unheard of has now become “mainstream.” These days, tattoos are a safe, mundane badge of weird that everyone seems to have. So if getting a tattoo or displaying one of the other all-too-common accepted signs of “weirdness” doesn’t make someone weird, what does it make them? Likely, it makes them a conformist, just of the counterculture variety (at least in that one action). Having these outward signs of “weirdness” merely allows people to further group up with like-minded dabblers so they can show off to one another whilst attempting to legitimize themselves by discussing who amongst them isn’t really into it enough.
Given time, most of these people will eventually dye their hair back to normal, cover up the tattoos, take out the piercings, get normal jobs, and slowly turn into the very parents who made them want to (safely) rebel in the first place. And what about the ones who don’t change? The ones who stay “weird” even when they grow older? Well, I’d like to point out that eventually they’re no longer admired by their old friends who have normalized. Really, they become freaks to their past peers and viewed as immature or insane. And there is the rub— you see, not everyone who is part of a genre or that has body piercings or dyes their hair is a dabbler. Some of these people truly are weird, strange, or different, but they get lost amongst the dabblers and tricked into believing them too.
That’s why these misconceptions of what makes people weird, strange, or different shouldn’t still exist— it robs everyone of the chance to truly know who is different and might actually have some new thoughts, ideas, or ways to live well. These are the people who would have done the “weird” thing in any past time period because ultimately they were really just doing what they wanted to do outside of societal pressures. They’re the ones who would have gotten tattoos back in the 1920’s (not counting sailors), dyed their hair purple in the 50’s, or secretly pierced their ball sack back in the 1800’s (ok, that may just be an example of stupidity in any time). Still, even in the previous examples of people in past times doing things that weren’t considered “normal,” the acts are not what makes them weird—it is that they are thinking for themselves. Plenty of truly weird/strange/different people have lived in every time period, and there is no way to find the majority of them by merely studying their outside appearances. Regardless, I propose that someone is not weird/strange/different just by comparing themself to the dominant section of society. Truly strange people stand out from everyone, even those who may be perceived as outwardly being similar, because they think for themselves. In my opinion, there is no other unifying feature that truly weird, strange, or different people possess. Furthermore, they also don’t have to necessarily think rationally (though this in itself, if done often, is quite rare); as previously stated, they just have to think independently.
To me, the least weird thing is conformity of any sort, even if it is to some counterculture sub-genre (of course, the wackiest of which has to be Juggalos).
Also, there’s no one activity the “weird” kids do, such as skipping class to do drugs or dressing up and acting out the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Perhaps the weird kids did largely once do one particular thing, but eventually it becomes just a rite of passage that merely says “I want to be construed as different.” These things change and evolve, to avoid being easily copied by all the dabblers of the world and also because the real weird people think differently, even from one another. I also find that most people never think about the fact that even their parents probably rebelled in some now-apparent and lame way back when they were young (hippies and beatniks for instance).
Of course, this is seldom brought up because they’ve changed and are now rightly embarrassed of how they once pretended to be something more special than they really were (insecure, irrational, and overly-emotional children). In my opinion, the main thing to realize is this: Conformity and false signs of weirdness occur within pretty much everyone. No one is born instantly wise and in complete control. Almost everyone makes stupid decisions as they begin to understand themselves, so don’t be afraid to later admit it to yourself and get over it. I have known people who have taken forever to understand this and in the meantime they decked themselves out with signs of “weirdness,” wasting time, money, and non-disfigured parts of their body before finally hiding it all and turning as normal as they were always going to be.
Even worse, I have seen those who have been engulfed by their bad decisions (such as hanging out with the kids enamored with drug culture) and by the time they wanted to change they no longer had the will to do it. I have quested for nearly the better part of my life to meet truly different people and I have to say that most of the strangest I’ve met don’t look outwardly bizarre and cannot be mentally judged just by taking a cursory glance. That’s because weirdness is inside; not grossly fashioned by the numbers upon a person’s body or displayed in their unimportant opinions/tastes. It’s the fact that someone really thinks for themself that sets them apart and makes them strange in this effed up, nearly unintelligible, begging-to-be-put-out-of-its-misery-world. Lastly, I’d like to state that if I can look at how someone dresses and pretty much sum up how they think, what they like, and what they’re into, they almost certainly suck big ones— and I ain’t talkin’ lollypops (unless they’re unwashed testicle flavored).