Subculture Tourism

One of the main draws (for me, at least) of travel to faraway lands is the potential for immersion into a culture very different from my own. Human culture flows like a river, both shaping and shaped by its environment. I really enjoy witnessing and experiencing the different shapes that can take.

But I can also do that a mile from home, because subcultures are every bit as interesting to me as cultures. We live in a culture-driven era. People don’t just like certain kinds of music, they form deep and meaningful communities around that music, with slang and behavioral mores and clothing conventions and everything else. They do it for television shows and movies. They do it for hobbies. They do it for everything.

This can sometimes skate the edge of being dangerous; when your subculture subsumes your personal identity you can find yourself in a dangerous place. But that’s why I love multi-subcultural-ism. I love being a tourist in many subcultures, enjoying what they have! I don’t have to adopt it as my own, but I can love the visit.

For example, you may visit a foreign country and marvel at all you see while still desiring ultimately to return home. Now imagine doing the same thing with a Star Trek convention. You don’t have to even be remotely interested in becoming a Trekkie to just really enjoy that visit. Seeing the “native dress” of cosplay and the quaint linguistic charm and even the foreign foods.

Seeing different things helps us examine our own things and realize that they’re not “defaults,” they’re one of many possible arrangements of culture. And once we see that, we also see how it could change, how it could be improved, and how we don’t have to barricade ourselves behind it for fear of any possible alteration.

Go to a punk show. Go to a Star Trek convention. Watch the Super Bowl and then go play Dungeons & Dragons. Go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show and then go to New York Fashion Week and then go to a political rally that’s outside your own political tribe. You don’t have to do any of these things with the intention of becoming a permanent transplant. But you can do all of them to become wiser about both improving your own culture, and maintaining your individuality in the face of it. Both good things.

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