Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Self-Reliance,"

 1841

Well, most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two, their four not the real four; so that every word they say chagrins us, and we know not where to begin to set them right. Meantime nature is not slow to equip us in the prison uniform of the party to which we adhere. We come to wear one cut of face and figure, and acquire by degrees the gentlest asinine expression. There is a mortifying experience in particular, which does not fail to wreak itself also in the general history; I mean “the foolish face of praise,” the forced smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease.

For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face. The bystanders look askance on him in the public street or in the friend’s parlor. If this aversion had its origin in contempt and resistance like his own, he might well go home with a sad countenance; but the sour faces of the multitude, like their sweet faces, have no deep cause, but are put on and off as the wind blows and a newspaper directs. Yet is the discontent of the multitude more formidable than that of the senate and the college. It is easy enough for a firm man who knows the world to brook the rage of the cultivated classes. Their rage is decorous and prudent, for they are timid, as being very vulnerable themselves.

K-HOLE

"Youth Mode: A Report on Freedom,"

 2013

Mass Indie ditched the Alternative preoccupation with evading sameness and focused on celebrating difference instead. But being different isn’t always a lonely journey; it can be a group activity.

If the rule is Think Different, being seen as normal is the scariest thing. (It means being returned to your boring suburban roots, being turned back into a pumpkin, exposed as unexceptional.) Which paradoxically makes normalcy ripe for the Mass Indie über-elites to adopt as their own, confirming their status by showing how disposable the trappings of uniqueness are. The most different thing to do is to reject being different altogether. Having mastered difference, the truly cool attempt to master sameness.

Once upon a time people were born into communities and had to find their individuality. Today people are born individuals and have to find their communities. Mass Indie responds to this situation by creating cliques of people in the know, while Normcore knows the real feat is harnessing the potential for connection to spring up. It’s about adaptability, not exclusivity.

Normcore understands the process of differentiation from a nonlinear perspective. Normcore doesn’t want the freedom to become someone. Normcore wants the freedom to be with anyone. You might not understand the rules of football, but you can still get a thrill from the roar of the crowd at the World Cup. In Normcore one does not pretend to be above the indignity of belonging.

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