Understanding Quotemoquot

Peter Messerschmidt's image for:
"Understanding Quotemoquot"
Image by: 

"Nobody understands me."

It's a phrase that has been spoken by the world's youth for generations, and these days the "movement" it most obviously supports is known as "emo."

For probably as long as there have been humans, certain groups have adopted styles that would set them apart, simply because they felt like "outsiders" in society. The term "emo"- actually a contraction of the words "emotion" or "emotional"- just happens to be the early 21st century buzzword to describe this group of people (usually younger) who feel like they are lost, different, misunderstood and cast out from society, on account of being "different."

At least, that's the popular perception. Things are not always as they appear.

When I was young (30 years ago) we were "punks." Subsequently, the term "goth" took over. Now (2007) we have "emo." It's a fairly safe bet that 20 years from today, we'll have a new generation, with a new name for themselves. What seems to set emos apart from previous "misunderstood fringe" groups is a relative lack of aggressive militancy, replaced by more of a sense of "quiet resignation."

Disregarding "popular perception" for a moment, descriptions like "emo" only exist because certain people- even when all these people are doing is TRULY being themselves- appear scary to the majority. And that only happens because majority opinion fears anything "different." If you're older, think back to the Beatles in the 60's, and the common fear that it was practically "the end of society" because they "dared" to have LONG HAIR.

Alas, mainstream opinions are often mistaken, and generally based on a large degree of ignorance. There's a (misinformed) assumption made that someone wearing all black, black makeup, and listening to "depressing" music must be "weird," "suicidal," "maladjusted," "criminal," and potentially a threat to "our" way of life. As is the case with MANY things that are a little different... emos are no more a threat to the world than people with long hair were, 40 years ago. They are basically "somebody's daughter" and "somebody's son," just like everyone else.

Emo is a statement of self, part of the process of "finding self-identity" ALL humans go through. Most likely the emo "clique" arose as a "response" to other cliques in the world that were seen as "falsely positive" and not "deep" enough in their perceptions of the world. There are few things emos dislike more than "shallow" people who don't care to look at the "truth" of the human predicament. But "emo" isn't just about people- it's also a style of clothing, a genre of music, a way of being, in life. And because of the term's "emotional" roots, it is also true that due to their sensitivity, emos are often among the people most acutely "tuned in" to the moods of the world around them. I know more than a few very well-adjusted but very sensitive people who assure me that if they were 20 years younger, they'd be part of the emo lifestyle.

The perception of emos as "people who cut themselves" and who are "generally suicidal," is mostly false. However, as people often more in-tune with their emotions, they are often better able to TALK about- and be IN TOUCH with- feelings the rest of the world sweep under the rug, unseen. Depression is simply more common in sensitive individuals, and thus more prevalent among emos.

More about this author: Peter Messerschmidt

From Around the Web