The question ending my last post got me thinking about a topic that's of great interest to me: The internet as it relates to the rise of "Subcultures of One". I have to say, I have a good amount of experience with this phenomenon. Around my 18th birthday, I had a transformative experience involving what was then called "underground" hip-hop. I began a deep and sincere love of hip-hop and its culture of self-expression against the odds. While I was the only person I knew who was as into it, that didn't stop me from learning all the words to "Bombs Over Baghdad" or spreading the gospel on our college radio station. In the beginning, what helped me learn was incessantly listening to the music on internet radio. While my appreciation for hip-hop remains strong, I've gotten very into indiepop music since then, as you probably can tell from my other posts. My education started by downloading songs online, and continues with the active "Indiepop List" list-serv. I also love indiepop's culture of DIY ideals and mixing sweet dorkiness with punk-rock defiance to cultural norms. And if it's possible, even fewer people that I know have any association with indiepop. No one knows what "Pastels badges" are or what popsongs your "new boyfriend is too stupid to know about". Hell, no one else I know would ever write "pop songs" as "popsongs".
And then, asexuality came into my life. Like my exploration of indiepop and hip-hop, my discovery of asexuality was heavily aided by the internet. But oddly enough, I've probably interacted with more asexuals (thanks to meetups!) than I have with hip-hoppers or indiepoppers. I know I'm rare, though. Most aces still feel like the only ones they know-- like they're subcultures of one. And while that can be a relatively safe place, I think it's also important (perhaps vital!) to convene with like-minded, real-world folks every once in awhile. Especially in the case of asexuality. While it could be problematic to have a partner who paints over your lovingly sprayed graffiti, or who thinks The Jesus and Mary Chain is a product of Satan, you'll definitely want someone who has some overlap with you in how you view sex. The internet can be so tantalizing-- showing you so many people and cultures that you can relate to-- but it can also frustrate. What's the use of having internet asexuals if no one outside the 'net believes or reaffirms you? "All told", it can be very difficult to have an identity partially forged from the smithy of the internet.
But, it really isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sure, in a previous time period, we would probably just do and like whatever our friends did and liked. But what's the adventure in that? My disparate musical subcultures have given more to me than I could have imagined. Maybe it's strange, but music gives my life meaning. It gives me something to love deeply in a world where I often don't understand the love that I'm being told is most important. It also inspires me to be creative and to express myself-- I'm lucky enough to love a lot of music in which enthusiasm is more important than snazzy production. And asexuality has been the same. It's inspired me to work for a common good; to help people better understand themselves and show them that they're not alone. Secretly, I thought it was kind of cool to like music that my friends didn't know about. I felt good about my ability to "put people on to new shit", as they say, and liked nothing more than to share my discoveries. I have to admit, I haven't been able to capture this feeling yet about my obscure sexuality. But even if you have, at some point, you will probably want to meet real-life asexuals. The structure might not exist yet. But the fact that we actually went online and did the research speaks well of the possibilities. We're not content to act heterosexual because our friends are; we're enterprising. We seek answers. And that bodes well.