Goth is Foreign

So I’ve been gone from the online side of goth culture for quite some time as I’ve been working on the store. That doesn’t mean I was cut off entirely.

Goth is a foreign concept. 

And the more I go outside and go to a variety of events the more apparent the lines of goth aren’t drawn between style, but more between individual desires and the generations.

I went to a relatively low-key conventional art show. If there were “goths” there, their work was heavily designed around familiar characters, Morticia from the Addams Family and quotes you have probably seen on Instagram. (Now, as we go through this, I want you to understand I have nothing against social media. I think it’s a tool that gets used in weird ways. Social media has also changed a lot in how we get information and how much we want to actually interact with information.) As I was taking a break, sitting to the side, a woman over the age of 50 asked me about how I was dressed and what I was interested in.

Using the G-word as a label is always risky business and most people either think post-punk, as the woman did, or Halloween. If you follow me on Instagram, it’s obvious I don’t fit into either of those categories unless you squint. A lot. So of course, I have to elaborate. But then that becomes a new challenge as I’m trying to explain what makes me feel more like me to someone who has to reference points to anything I’m saying.

Does that mean I was never a goth kid to start?

Obviously not, but instead of lamenting on what other people think of my gothiness, I went in the other direction.

How much more expansion can Goth as a concept take?

Nu goth itself has now hit a balance with the witch trend but I was always curious about could get an entire generation of people to have such buying power where companies said “Hey, let’s put skulls and bats on everything.” Goth, in general, seems to be the answer to some question. Why am I so different and am I alone? Am I freak and what exactly makes me “freaky”? Something, I don’t think those are the exact questions or that there is one question every goth is asking. I’m just saying. So when there was this huge cultural shift that lasted for years, why?

Because goth has been around for a long time, it didn’t just suddenly hit the spotlight. Now, the kids who made fun of the black clad loners and/or weirdos were trying to figure out how to imitate our looks. Like they were trying to find the magic in our balance of “being a part of group” and “being an individual”.

As the trend died down, there seems to be a few stragglers not only determined to stay but to reinvent the entire thing. I have questions.

What’s the point of trying to fit in with a group if you don’t actually care about the group? The spectrum seems to have shifted from active and passive participants to a competition of numbers. Or maybe my real question is what do goths today care about?

What is the one question they want to be answered as they walk the labyrinth of what we offer? Is it time to give up the game of us and them?

Of course not because that’s not this works at all. In the slightest. Even if you squint.

If we look at the history of anyone who has ever glanced at goth favorably, curiously, there tends to be this standard movement through goth culture: Halloween, rebellion, reality. I think Halloween as the “gateway drug” of sorts is part of why goth is seen as such a “young person thing”. It’s essentially escapism and dressing up. There used to be other outlets for those specific desires in LARPing, online games, anime conventions. All of it was held under this glass of “one day, you’ll grow out of this and the next time you see it will be when you have kids”.

We’ll come back to Halloween in a second, but the rebellion phase. Goth doesn’t seem to have any overt rebellion tones. It can certainly borrow from its punk cousins and lend to its emo ones, but goth doesn’t have it built into its…anything. If standing apart is considered rebellious, that’s one thing, but it’s less “Reject what is popular” and more “Accept yourself.” If you look at what defines the culture, that “accept yourself” doesn’t even sound sickeningly sweet, self help 101, or philosophical. It sounds like hey, would like to hear something that doesn’t use the same chord progression as 900 other songs? Or maybe you would like to read a book that makes you think? Or maybe…..

Or maybe…one of us, one of us…

If I were a teenager today, like right now, I was 15 years old, I think my goth experience would be very different. When I actually was 15, the idea of goth was very…reference-heavy, let’s say, you had to fucking know things. I was terrified of socializing, of not being able to “have a place at the table” but far more scared of the idea it could be my own fault. So I devoured albums and books, tried to get into movies, and retain all this information. Now? If I were 15 now? It’s all very glossy and it’s all very accessible.

That’s the weird part. It’s all there in the palm of my hand, at a moment’s notice. So what if the value hasn’t changed because of interest? What if the qualifiers no longer apply because it’s so accessible?

Like Halloween seems to have stopped being this children-only thing because it’s competitive now. There’s a wicked market for it. Whose haunted house can go viral? Whose make up can be the most three dimensional? Who can have the scariest animatronic? The information to up your game in these regards is right at your finger tips. The products to achieve status of most dedicated and maybe sickest design are a click away.

The environment has changed and we don’t move around it. 

Not saying the online side of goth should get more credit, hell maybe I’m only talking about myself. I feel like I’m trying to become this younger me’s perfectly reasonable idea of goth then. Like if I were this person 10 years ago that would have been badass. But it’s not 10 years ago and I feel stagnant even though I’m doing more. There are some notable people and I guess “Bitch of Goth approved” who also seem stagnant, like the scene from Anastasia with the dancing ghosts.

And what of my gripe with goth youtubers? Do I feel like taking any of it back in my surreal moment of clarity?

Not a chance in hell because I don’t feel like anyone makes stuff right now that resonates with people who don’t already agree with them. If no opinions or interests are stated…there’s nothing to connect with really. It’s there and then it’s not. We see it and forget it.

I mean makes stuff like a goth show or music or stories that push goth forward instead of trying to connect with the past. Does that make sense? Instead of “just” trying to connect with the past, their past, your past.

hmmm….

Still Suicidal

I need the space to walk myself back from the ledge.

Some people have seen this part of me before and I think they get sick of it you know. The reality of it. The “doesn’t ever go away” part of it.

I don’t know why it happens. I don’t know why it keeps coming back and it’s like learning to walk all over again.

I’m not thrilled at the idea of going to a doctor.

I don’t think they can help. Not because doctors are dumb, but because I don’t know how to articulate what…hurts.

So I have to place more value in the fact I’m me experiencing this thing.

There’s like a million thoughts.

No one will like you if they know. Everyone leaves, they always do. You’re not good enough to care this much about yourself. You really should just go and keep changing cities. Why do you even bother, you’re just going to mess it up. You’re going to fail. It’s not worth it. You’re stupid. You should just stay hidden. You don’t deserve to feel anything.

I hear suicide is selfish a lot. A LOT. I also hear that the weak ones, the ones who can’t get through it, that they deserve it. That’s how their story ends.

But I didn’t die?

I didn’t die.

I remember the feeling, like there’s was this beautiful darkness and it was finally going to stop. The pain was finally going to stop and then there was this little poke of a bright light.

Tiny. Could barely register it.

And it was annoying. Like “hey dummy. Where are you going? We have stuff to do.”

We?

Me.

I have stuff to do.

I remember struggling to crawl, to fight back. I know it takes a lot of pills to kill a person. Like a lot. Like more  than you think. The number just makes death by overdose seem exhausting. I took a lot of pills, one by one. I wasn’t scared.

I’m scared I won’t be scared again.

I ask myself if I really think anyone would care? If I just stopped showing up at the usual places. (The result of an elaborate trick on my social anxiety)

Would.

Anyone.

Care.

Then I play this game where I trace my life back with every decision that lead me to a good thing.

April 2017 met someone who treats me nice at a club I go to every week

June 2016 started going to a club that treats me like family

March 2016 started to leave the house to socialize, had panic attacks, worked through them

January 2016 moved to socal

January 2015 ran away with the circus

October 2015 left job with racist manager to work for circus

June 2015 half heartedly sent out college applications, though I hadn’t got in, went to work (unknowingly) with racist manager

Early 2015, dropped out of college

I keep going until I get back to 2009.

I repeat it until it makes sense.

I don’t expect anyone to care and while it would be nice, for a moment, the reality is the caring part doesn’t fulfill me. I don’t really care if anyone cares if I die tomorrow. I very well could.

I care that I made a decision that influenced another and brought them closer to something that fulfills them.

And maybe there will come a day when I have done all I can and killing myself will feel right. I’m a little scared that doesn’t scare me.

But five minutes can make all the difference Twenty seconds can change your whole life. The decision to stay or go, whether or not you believe there is another chance with the same experiences tied to it coming around the corner, can make all the difference.

I didn’t die.

I dont’ say that like that moment is some magical revelation. I didn’t die then and actively made the choice to keep on living.

Every day.

Every hour.

I didn’t die.

So why don’t I die now?

Why don’t I kill myself now?

…they used to ask that a lot too…

It’s like there’s this shelf inside. Let’s pretend there’s this vessel inside me that’s heart shaped and the shelf is in the middle of that, sealing the top from the bottom. It feels like something is pushing on the top of the shelf, filling it up. The pressure is building but the shelf won’t break. The bottom part is empty. There doesn’t seem to be anything stopping the shelf from collapsing.

But it doesn’t even though I know it can.

Of course, a person could just stay like that, with all these bad thoughts pushing on a shelf that doesn’t break but can. Eventually it will. If you stay there.

Because you are not the shelf inside the vessel of yourself.

The shelf is just the safety, the just in case you need to a moment to catch your breath.

The shelf has done its job.

You have to do yours and empty out the bad stuff.

So how do you get it out?

What if getting rid of it completely seems like a monumental task?

Can you recycle the bad thoughts?

Repurpose them from “justification to kill yourself” into “proof of you’re human”?

Maybe even add something to them, to change the tone?

Like “I’m not good at anything but I would like to get better.”

“No one will ever love me but I haven’t met everyone in the world to know that for sure.”

If I’m going to make such a permanent decision, hell I’d want to be sure.

I’d want to be really really sure that the reasoning was true.

 

Write Damn It!

Ugh! I haven’t been able to write or draft anything properly for months now and it only leads me to beat myself up more. So I’m just going to write and I don’t know hope for the best. Throw some shit onto a singular page so the next five can be magic, because all I have right now are scraps.

I still get caught up in what other people are doing. Not in a bad way, at least not anymore, of thinking less of myself for it, but not in a great way either. I love my friends. I have friends now. Like that’s something I never thought would happen. Not only that, the people I managed to bump into in this fucked up world happen to be better than anything I ever dreamed of. They are incredibly talented people, that no matter what is going on in their lives, they are creators, big dreamers for no one else but themselves. It’s like Christmas-in-the-movies every day. But every day I wake up to a constant stream of creativity and my first reaction is get off your ass and make something, you lazy shit. I push myself so hard, I would rather pour every free penny I have (even the ones I don’t) into learning a new skill (the next two things I’m going to buy are a keyboard and this amazing embroidery needle).

But it’s not even to keep up, I think it’s because I’m scared. Still scared. Of not actually improving as a person, so I need tangible proof. Of wanting to be this proof you can do anything you put your mind to but it’s never enough. Of getting pushed back into a corner and losing every shining moment of joy because it didn’t actually matter.

I don’t why, but every time something good happens or I do something right I think about how every person should get that chance.

Then I second guess myself. Like someone has to be looking at this thinking “Oh my god, you’re trying to be so noble and garner favor for being ‘a good person'”. I hate it sometimes that I can’t shake it. That competitive nature with myself. Keep going. Keep adding to your workload. I never ever think about how my drive comes across to other people. I still don’t allow myself to feel any reaction to praise or condescending bullshit, because people come and go, they change like fashion changes seasons.

Honestly, I think I’m scared to find out what happens if I let that self hate go because I don’t really know what future to expect if I really and truly love myself.

I get mad at myself for having these moments of declaring myself. Like it helps, it helps a lot, but I think it also turns people off, which obviously I don’t want to do, but fuck, I don’t know (or care to) package it all nice and sexy for consumption. There are SO many people who spend their time getting ready to look cute at a club or networking and I roll up to the same club, maybe in jeans stained with paint, or burns from an iron. Not going to lie I fucking love me the most when that happens, because back home, hours of work are drying and setting and soon it will be something in someone else’s hands and fuck that’s been a dream of mine for so long. The weirdest problems come up, how to fix some random ass thing and everyone is like “IDK, what do you think we should do” and I know how to fix it, because I spent all my energy in learning weird shit. Yesssssss. Lol. I don’t look down on people for not knowing, mind you, there’s plenty of stuff I don’t know and am not really interested in and I think that’s okay.

I’ve been watching this YouTuber recently…who responds to people telling him what to do, even if it’s in a nice way, that he’s going to make videos he wants to make and it’s been making me feel a lot better because I used to do that.

One of the things I wrote earlier today was a long piece about whether or not you had to keep your cultural heritage separate from your goth involvement, and it’s probably the hardest thing I ever wrote. When I write I think about the arguments that could come up, like what is the worst thing someone could walk away from this with. I think about all the times I wasn’t considered black enough and I saw a picture of this girl with blue-black skin and she’s fucking gorgeous. I’m not usually insecure about my color but I cried thinking I would never be as beautiful as this girl. I’m always torn between talking about my black life and my mixed life because I do love being mixed but in America they feel like they have to be two separate things (I wish I knew more Trinidadian-American goth kids). I love everything about my heritage wouldn’t trade it even to look more like her.

When I hear reggae at goth club, because some clubs in LA do that, I kind of want to cry because for as long as that song lasts I don’t have to think about anything. I can just smile and be myself. It’s like someone saying “We see you.” and I know it’s not for me, specifically, but god it feels nice.

Unless I know someone really well any time they open a door for me, I always do this extra level of overthinking, like who is this opportunity really for? Do I deserve it? Do I really? So that also feeds into having to prove myself.

I think about dying all the time and I’ve turned my suicidal moments into something more constructive. What do you want them to say about you when you die? I want them to say I was loving and I was kind, that I would fight for my friends like a savage in a minute. That I was one of the most creative people they had ever known, that I could and did do everything. I want them to say that I wasn’t afraid to fight for everyone to have a chance to feel truly good within themselves.

Social media wise, no matter what you want to do, you have to keep doing. Keep trying, keep writing, keep posting, keep going. Because that is how you grow.

I hope you see me and that one day, I get to see you.

You know where to find me, Living the Strange Life, Instagram (@thestrangegoth) , Facebook, YouTube and using Twitter like it’s 2008 @lavieetrange.

Stay ravenous,

Zakkarrii Edison Daniels

How to Text a Human

In blogging, you’re not supposed to use phrases like “I think” and “I feel”. 

I’m getting caught up in a loop of thought about connections. Yesterday, I had a conversation with someone that spiraled completely out of control, that left me thinking, “What just happened?”

Mind you, this happened over text.

And it’s weird to think about, especially with the reaction that people have. “Oh yeah, over text, that’s terrible. You should have done it in person. You should have had it over the phone. Anything, but text.”

Why? 

I love looking at how people interact with social media because it is such a profound medium for communication. I know you know that.

We just had this whole fit about false news…in an industry that is mostly funded by advertisers whose ROI is generated by web traffic created by “professional writers”, a definition so muddled I can’t even see it anymore. We’ve changed the definition of these things on an emotional and societal level; journalist, news, media, critic, engage, activism, compassion etc. We’re on edge about posting things we care about, we even make jokes about social justice despite caring very much about it. But I use Facebook for being loud and grand and I’ve noticed something strange.

I have people who message me comments as opposed to writing them out in my post where other people can see them, and they all say the same thing “It takes the littlest thing to start an argument these days.”

Why?

You have guides that talk about the type of blog post you’re writing; is it informative, is it opinionated, is it personal, etc. Living the Strange Life is meant to be informative and thought-provoking, not so much personal. Strange After Hours is far more personal than informative but occasionally useful. But I know that the impression people have this blog is mostly from talking to me, seeing my videos and then coming over here thinking “What am I going to get from this?”

There are guides that also talk about eliciting an emotional response deliberately to generate traffic. Posts with strong displays of emotion tend to do far better than neutral pieces because people know what they’re going to get into. 

So, and this is just my theory, I think we approach text-based media far differently than we do visual media. Writing is really hard. You can’t make declarative statements and express multiple emotions in a single sentence. It gets confusing! Our emotional response starts with a word, builds into a provocative sentence, a carefully poised paragraph and then an evocative semi thinky piece. Writers are supposed to play off their intended audiences emotional comprehension of these things. They’re supposed to find your triggers.

Take the conversation I had, I have a strong personality now because I used to be very quiet, withdrawn and shy. That’s specific to me, by the way, just clarifying. So I consciously went out and changed the way I engaged with the world around me, my word choice, passive to active in everything. My expression changed, not my personality though. I still have a very distant understanding of concepts like love, connection and being social. So words relating to those conces don’t carry much weight with me whether I’m reading a post or…having a conversation.

So, going back through the texts, I’m sitting there thinking why does this person think I’m super invested in a serious relationship with them? Because I’m using “strong” language tied to these concepts. So even though consciously I know I don’t feel that way, right now in this conversation it seems like I do because of the language I’m using and how they feel about those concepts and their brief interaction with me actually in person.

Did I mention I was also at work?

Switching over to the comment section on Facebook, I know the people on the friend side of it. I don’t add anyone unless I have personally met them or someone can vouch for them. Specifically to avoid fights (because guilty by association, if you’re “friends” with them then you must condone this behavior) and to protect people I know because as I got into YouTube years ago, people would friend their way into bigger YouTubers lives. I don’t need that mess. But even with all of that, most of the people I know, do not know each other. I make the biggest statements on Facebook, I consciously do that to let off steam, to start a conversation, to make light of a personal issue, whatever. Sometimes, two friends of mine but not friends of each other will really get into it about something, the tatics of marketing, the sins of being yourself is it better to be yourself or be dishonest, something that can be polarizing, but they’re on the same side. So I sit there, watching this, thinking “Why are two people I love dearly trying to shout each other down?” Because of the emotional connection to how and what is being said.

I’ll message them privately, “Dude what was that? What was up with this thing specifically?” and they tell me what their emotional ties are to what was said, whether they said it or responded to it, and it’s obvious they went into this from that  emotional place, this “I respond to any mention of this from that emotional place” and not…let’s say “an indifferent until motivated and relevant in this specific conversation place”.

But that’s not bad. We have these deeply tied associations with concepts because they are important to us, that’s what leads us to make the decisions we do in life, big or small. It’s hard to step back and look at the bigger picture of conversation, to figure out what we want to happen at the end of it (I want to be your friend or I want to convince you to think like me or at least feel you understand my way of thinking) and consciously not respond from that emotional place.

I responded from that emotional place, tried to correct myself which led to more confusion and here we are. 

When I know I’m writing something that could be perceived as negative and I don’t want to change the writing, I’ll make a video. It’s solely to demonstrate the tone of the piece because there really aren’t a lot of “negative” posts on Living the Strange Life. It’s mostly to share information and start conversations. If you’ve read enough of the posts on there, you’ll see I preemptively respond to possible emotionally charged reactions in the post. I don’t want or need to do that, but I just think how I don’t want a stranger who might have a really good or really bad impression of the topic to walk away thinking “oh this is great, they really agree with me” when I don’t or  “oh my god  this person is terrible, they wanted to piss me off” and I usually don’t. I make a video so you can hear the over the top statements said with sarcasm or the parts that are personal to me with the correct emotion.

But I also want people to want to see my videos and that means makeup and editing…so not every blog post has a video.

I think we trust our prediction of how videos will make us feel more than posts. Have you seen someone share a video they hate and their comment on it is “Oh my god this guy is an idiot!” and it gets people talking. Compare that to an article shared with the comment, and how often you see “did you read it”? I think we enjoy the extra level of stimuli in videos, we have to watch, listen, process what’s being said, how it’s being said and trust what we’re seeing is what they wanted us to see. But with posts, it’s just you and the words and you can be wrong, “well how did they mean this? Is this trying to sell me something, make me feel something, what are we doing here” There’s more room for misinterpretation and that subconscious uncertainty can push us away from engaging at all. We have to be active in our thought process when we read, constantly asking what are we looking at. When we can see a person’s emotional expression that’s one level of uncertainty removed, when we can hear tone, that’s another. We don’t have to work as hard to get information, but we can still be wrong and deceived just as much.

So you sit there and you have to figure out how to turn all of this either into a profit or an effective demonstration of your ideas. 

Obviously, I’m only focusing on one part of visual media and why it’s so effective. I told the story about the conversation to two people, one has known me longer than the other. In the way that they responded, the person who has known me less gave me advice relating to the general scope of things, how people would most likely process interacting with me. The other who has known me longer responded more to me and how I was trying to effectively not come off as a crazy person.

Even posting this, I know if the specific people see it, it’s a little jarring. I can hear the “shouldn’t have done that” already. Here’s the thing, it happens and most of the time we’re left feeling hurt or confused or both and we just accept we have to be hurt and confused. That doesn’t work for me and I don’t think it works for other people, so I become the Adele of WordPress (just for today).

Anyway, the reason that advice is so important and made me feel better might very well be because it happened in person. If people see someone sad, they tend to want to make people feel better, stressed to relaxed, confusion into clarity. I think about how the advice might have gone differently if it happened through text. Would I have been as effective at explaining my feelings about this as my face was? Would it have come off differently to each of them, the variable being how well they knew me?

Probably.

There are two parts to an interaction: me and them, feeling and expressing, on and on…

Miscommunication is a hell of a thing, whether in a comment thread or in a text. It can make or break our intentions in a second.I think this is so definitive: I made a typo and the phrase read “when someone is my life”. It was supposed to say “when someone is in my life”….but the damage had already been done. *eye roll* (I mean that gives me slight pause about posting this, but I don’t even know more brah I just work here.There were other typos why is that the- never mind.)

My initial emotional response to this is to be sad I came off the wrong way and think oh my god I’m such a horrible person but my logical response is well that was a shit show, how can I avoid this in the future? I think people find the most important things in engagement to be presentation, (You should like this I made it for you) and getting what they want (Engagement, profit, attention). Personally, I think it’s acknowledgment (Look a human who might have a different way of looking at the world than I do and could misinterpret what I’m saying) and taking responsibility (I played off their sense of humor, I emphasized with them, I hit a nerve and should apologize if that wasn’t my intention). You can take away from this, oh if I do x, y, z then I will get the results I want in any situation, but that’s not how human interaction works.

Some people’s pride is more sensitive, for others, it could be trauma they haven’t dealt with or are ready to deal with or even have. Success and however you define it, regardless of where you look for it is dependent on other people in some way. So when we go out in the world or in front of a camera we are entitled to our intentions but we have to acknowledge we sometimes put other people at the mercy of them.

The best or worst story you’ve ever told can start with a single conversation, but which is more important: what you’re getting or what’s happening?

One time I texted a person. It went horribly wrong. I didn’t try to distance myself from it. I just took notes for next time.

Ya’ll know where to find me, Living the Strange Life, Instagram (@thestrangegoth) , Facebook, YouTube and using Twitter like it’s 2008 @lavieetrange.

Stay ravenous,

Zakkarrii Edison Daniels

 

#thestress of hashtags

Does anyone develop this random wave of anxiety when hashtagging their posts? Mine used to be a lot worse. Why am I doing this? Will it make a difference in getting my stuff out there? Which words yield the best responses? And will it backfire if they can see the wrong ones I used?

It’s okay. I got you.

Why am I doing this? 

Hashtags are for searching and categorizing your content. Don’t forget, you don’t live in a bubble. As you label your work, you’re building categories for other people, showing them who participates in these categories on this platform and what you think goes with that tag. But big tags or tags that have a lot of posts under it, like “me” and “tbt ” may not help you, small alternative, niche audience person who I write for, as much you think. 

It’s not about numbers, it’s about engagement. And you’ll hear this a lot as the next wave of the social media users wake up to this idea. Your content ain’t shit if people don’t feel compelled to interact with it, because a view is just a view at the end of the day with no click through to your work that they may or may not purchase. So there is a lot of pressure to make stuff that sells, or at least finds a happy place in between your style and a style they are familiar with. Familiarity helps a lot. But take using #me? Is that what your audience is searching for? 

Will it make a difference?

Yes and no. Yes, using a range of hashtags with different groups participating in them might pick up the stragglers who didn’t or wouldn’t find you any other way. No, because just posting random words hoping you get a follow doesn’t let them know what to expect. One of the most important things about “brand” building is knowing what the hell you’re about, so you can convey that to people who like those things. If you don’t know, they won’t know. 

So which words do I use? 

Um, what does your audience search for?

Don’t be an ass, how am I supposed to know that?

You are supposed to know that and not like your psychic. When you building your brand you should know who’s buying before they even know about you. Pick three imaginary people, your dream customers. When are they online? Do they work a regularly scheduled job? Do they drive or take public transportation (I.e. Have more time to look at your stuff)? Are they foodies? Fashionistas? What do people first expect when they look at your work? (I asked my friends for three words that came to mind after they browsed through Living the Strange Life). I’ll get more into this later but it’s a start if you’re calling me an ass. 

Will it backfire? 

It can sometimes. At least in my social circle we do talk about these things, like whose trending under what tag, because we write about people and posts. But for the most part, if the work is there, you’re trying, it’s not a big deal what you put there. Everyone is trying to get at least one pair of eyes on them so they understand. 

So the take away?

Get buck wild with your hashtag self. Or don’t. Some people get a lot of traffic because people share their work without hashtags….but that’s also another story for a different day. Figure out who you want to be on your followers list and if they care about the difference between #goth and #gothic. In some places your work will show up under both even if you just use one. Spell out your brand with hashtags and throw the others in there like garnish. 

Your people are out there, are you?

Ya’ll know where to find me, Living the Strange Life, the store, Instagram (@thestrangegoth) , Facebook, YouTube and using Twitter like it’s 2008 @lavieetrange. 

Stay ravenous, 

Zakkarrii Edison Daniels

Goth Blog Topics: What Should I Talk About?

If I had a dollar for every time I saw this question I could readily afford stuff from Majesty Black, whose gloves make me swoon and I want to glue them to my hands. I swear I get so distracted…

Are you sick of the makeup tutorials, haul videos and baby bat, how-to content? ME. TOO. It’s a big complaint on both sides of the age spectrum. The reason you see a lot of those videos is because they’re easy to make. Tutorials and hauls have a built in script: “I’m going to talk about this stuff and I keep talking until I run out of stuff or steps”. Baby bat content (How to build a goth wardrobe, first time going to a goth club, etc) is a little different. There is a huge amount of content to draw from, it brings in a large demographic (13-21 years old), and it’s sort of become a goth blogger rite of passage. You’ve experienced enough to start talking about it to people coming up after you. Great. No, really it is. I swear I’m not being sarcastic.

Also with a lot of goth bloggers, there is an unspoken list of topics, but it’s baby bat content. Everyone at some point has done them. I think even I have done a few. There’s also the 666, if you just want a long ass general topic list.

The Downside? Because it’s young people making consumable content for other young people, it excludes anyone who is no longer a baby bat (new to goth culture, for the sake of this post). I hardly watch goth youtube videos anymore, because a lot of them follow the same generic template of mainstream blogs (generalized writing for a young audience, “hi, guys so today I’m going to do a video…” bitch, I know, that’s why I’m here and not on the moon.) If left to be the only type of content, it’s going to lead for a very shaky future of goth because no one will know what to do after Goth 101.

“I get it, I get it. So how do I figure out what to talk about?”

There are these things (although I’m not entirely sure this is the proper term for it) called static and dynamic posts. Static posts are posts like this one, can be written at any point in time, still be relevant years from now, and were drafted up ages ago. Dynamic posts are usually response pieces that aren’t normally drafted long in advance where it’s only as relevant as the original article is because time is a bitch (My response to Goth at 40 on Living the Strange Life is an albeit late, dynamic post).

Always have a list of static posts to draw from. As your YouTube channel grows and you build some kind of a following, you’ll find it useful to film some videos in advance in case you get sick or you feel lazy one day, whatever. It’s also good to be a little aware of timing so your post about “Deadly Beauty Hacks” doesn’t show up on the same day say I don’t know and god forbid, a supermodel dies. I don’t know if it’s a turn off for everyone, but it’s certainly a turn off for me to see those two things in my feed…but it’s your blog.

So static post list. 

Pick a general concept: music, literature, fashion, culture, lifestyle, a big old generic word that goth has a version of is usually a good place to start.

Now rip it apart. 

What are secondary associations with these concepts? Literature, for example. Reviews are a big one, libraries and bookstores another (you’ll see why in a minute), people make books (…I make books….), they inspire other stories and transcend mediums (books made into films…) and do you see where this is going? Even if it sounds stupid write it down please. It’s not like your signing this list in blood “I will write about everything on this page.” you’re just dreaming at this point. Have a cup of coffee, chill out, be a pretentious goth, have fun with it.

So you should have something that looks a little like this:

Literature>Reviews, Libraries, Bookstores, Etc

Go through and expand the categories further. I can get a little obsessive so I’m going to take a step back and just do one. If you’re creating a topic-focused blog (like DIYs) then you stick to that area. General blog? Go. Nuts. Dream up weird shit to give Atlas Obscura a run for their money (but who can compete with them?)

Example: Literature>Reviews> Edgar Allen Poe> The Significance of the Raven on Goth Culture

Literature> Libraries> Haunted Libraries of Spain, Lost Libraries of Russia, The Gothic Masterpiece Library of Germany

And at this point you should have something close to a general topic list. Glance at it, write about that thing, and boom you have a post.

Or if you’re really at a loss…

1)Look at other people’s blogs. If you can expand on it, and not just repeat everything they said, take a swing. Link them obviously!

2) Use one of those terrible post generators for inspiration. I hate list and how to topics so much.

3) Write the shit you want to write about. Talk about the things you wish people would talk about. This was the entire model for Living the Strange Life for a long time, and to be fair it still is.

The bounty of goth is you can be oddly specific as long you can write it with conviction. Always, always remember you are asking for people’s time, and if you respect that then you’re going to be okay. Some websites and creators are assholes, because they don’t add anything (nada, nothing, blah blahing) to any conversation or worse they just steal other people’s work.

Does this help you guys? Are there any questions?

Come get your life. Living the Strange Life. YouTube. Instagram. Facebook.

Stay ravenous.

Zakkarrii Edison Daniels

What’s In A Name: Naming the Brand

By which any other rose would conjure images of graveyards and authority as you spill your soul out onto the internet for the world to consume.

Sorry, what we’re we talking about?

Oh yes. Names. I’ve heard from so many goths who want to be content creators  (bloggers and YouTubers specifically) that they don’t even know where to start. So fuck it. Let’s name something.

There really aren’t any rules. As much as I link and write, these things are still heavily weighted from my perspective. Bitch, name your website Felicia’s Return: Stories for the Exiled. All people care about it at the end of a post or video is that some actual feeling went into it. Even if they hate it, they can never fault you for that. But a good name certainly does help.

Why? It makes it easier to find the things we’re looking for and from creator perspective, easier for you to figure out who the hell you’re writing for. Living the Strange Life is obviously a lifestyle blog, but it’s not limited to that. Strange After Hours is a bad name for blog because no one knows what it’s about from the title and so people will be less inclined to click on it. But this isn’t for everyone, just the ones who want it. *smokes languidly on a chaise lounge*

Pros and Cons of Using Your Name (Goth or Otherwise)-

Pros: If you’ve got a unique name, no one else will have it when you use it for a domain name or competing for the top spot in a google search. You’re free to post whatever you want, whenever you want. It’s you!

Cons: It’s harder to build a brand around a personal name. I say that in the sense, you can totally do it, but brand recognition is going to take some time until there’s an actual list of content under your name (or you pander to mainstream audiences with your content). If your name isn’t unique or you threw in “Cheshire” “Snape” or “Raven”, you’re going to have some competition and be held in a different, unfavorable light.

Zakkarrii’s vote? Don’t use your name for your entire brand.

But I’m not a brand, I just want to make a channel. At some point, you’ll want to make money from this yeah? YOU are the brand. So either you need to generate a lot of traffic (YouTube ad revenue typically doesn’t pay you shit until you hit several thousand views…) or sell shit under the brand name (services, i.e. professional makeup, clothing, a book, etc). But there’s another part specific to the goth community: we build each other up. When we do features/promotions on/for each other, we are dependent on other people building enough of an audience to yeild a postive return (monetary or to connect us to more of the audience we’re looking for). My rule is always treat your hobbies like your business  (but I have no chill….so…take that as you will).

Quick Guide to Names:

  1. Make sure it’s something people can actually spell. So making up words or combining words into a singular will only get you so far if you want to be found. Unless you love the extra minute it will take to explain to people how to spell it in a noisy goth club. That should be the test really, can you yell it clearly over music and gain a follower.
  2. Don’t you dare put a fucking numb3r in there so help. Me. GOD. You are a goth kid, you can do better than that. Same goes for “x”s unless you really had to use it on some random platform but the rest are x-less. TRY.
  3. Making it sound good and people will feel good saying it. Or just take notes from here
  4. You should probably like the name before you start making stuff under that name. If it’s just to get audiences to follow you, they’ll know, we’ll talk about it, and you won’t be happy if you have to spend money to have it printed on a 1000 of something.

Should it be Graveyard or Cemetery, Mortuary or Crypt?

Careful. You’ll probably burn through fifty names before you get to one that’s unique and personal to you/your business. Goth kids are drawing from the same pool for inspiration, so there are loads of “Coffin -blank-” and “Cemetery -blank-”. (and yes, there is a blog called “Mortuary Memoirs”). Goth in the title works, sure, if you can find a general concept (art, music, living, life, shopping, rose, on and on) that hasn’t been claimed. Feeling defeated yet? It won’t be the last time, chin up young squire.

Change the perspective. If you’re going to write about goth, that word is going to show up a lot, so don’t stress too much about having it in the actual name. As for iconic imagery (bats, cats, and spiders oh my), what’s the second thing you’d expect to see featured alongside the word goth? What’s the last? Or maybe make it evocative and use adjectives as the focus coupled with a seemingly innocent noun (weird, melancholy…although that’s a hard one to work with, and I’ll tell you why later). Or run in the opposite direction “It’s Always Sunny in the Cemetery”, “HappyHaunt.com” or ridiculous “batbootycall.com” (but that brings up some fetish sites for cosplay so…pick your battles. I didn’t say these were good, I’m saying try, damn it!)

Now is a good time to fight low self esteem. Yeah, I know “What the hell Zakkarrii”, but listen. Your brand name should be something you can say with confidence. I love Living the Strange Life and that makes it a million times easier to put work into my brand. I love seeing next to my friends’ brands, who also love their names and easily work under it.

You already get flack for being a goth, alternative, what have you. So I believe it’s important you don’t throw away the opportunity to make every “normal” person who is already counting you out see how wrong they were. So many people (I’ve watched many a blog and a channel come ago) start with a shit name, get frustrated they don’t get any traffic in three months and let it die (also robbing anyone else of using the name, but whatever). Or they don’t believe in themselves or the possibilities and set themselves up for failure by being Ch3shir3Kittylol666 (every single goth blogger and youtuber has or will eventually received a message about how they helped someone). When you sign up to be a goth content creator, you have a direct influence on the next generation and it took me too long to realize that. I say the future of goth looks bright and a good solid name with weight behind it can only be ignored for so long, after all.

Come get your life. Living the Strange Life. YouTube. Instagram. Facebook.

Stay ravenous.

Zakkarrii Edison Daniels