Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Free to be Punk

Tonight I went to a punk rock concert. It was my first punk experience and not altogether an unpleasant one. In fact, it was surprisingly pleasant most of the time.

One thing that struck me about this new experience was how different I was than the people surrounding me. Most of the people there defined the "punk" stereotype with every hair on their head, every thread of their clothing and every puff of their clove cigarette.

I looked around at everyone and wondered what made us so different. We were all at the same concert, drinking the same beer, living in the same city. And yet to look at me and to look at them, you would think we were from totally different planets.

So what is it about that punk life that is so unusual that separates them from the rest of the mainstream? Sure, the hair, the clothing, the smoke habits. But what else? I'm sure that these people have ordinary, insignificant jobs like most of the people in the country. Software technicians, administrative assistants, teachers, even doctors and lawyers.

What I found myself contemplating is what these people looked like in their ordinary lives. Did they still wear their hair all messy and tangled looking? Did they still wear old vintage baggy clothes? Did they smoke cloves on their smoke breaks?

Probably not. Because our society is such that it demands a certain kind of uniformity. A certain conformity to the norms that are socially accepted and nonresistant to common conventions. These people may seem perfectly "normal" in their everyday lives, their "workday" lives, but on their own, at night, with the comfort of their friends and those like them, they express who they truly are. In a nonjudgemental environment, they are free to become themselves, however far from the mainstream that might be.

And in a sense, I think that we're all like that. We all have multiple personalities. We portray ourselves to be in one kind of light at a specific time around specific people. And at other times, when we feel more comfortable, we show our true selves. We let go of the social pressures and social responsibilities that dictate our public behavior, and we act freely. It is important to become aware of these personalities so that we can hear them when they are being unnecessarily muffled.


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