Well, there's something that I've been coming across a lot on the internet, and it's people who insist that, if you're Goth, you're not allowed to say that you are - otherwise you're a poseur. According to quite a lot of people on sites such as Urban Dictionary and Wikihow, calling yourself a Goth makes you 'less Goth'. This, apparently, is because you are labelling youself, and therefore not a 'true individual'.
This is where I get a little antsy. Y'see, in my personal and honest opinion, there is nothing wrong with labels. People put little shorthand tags on things and people because it helps them define the world around them. I label myself. I label others. Having a 'label' doesn't make you less of an individual, because the label does not define the person.
The Goth label, for example, does not mean that Goth is the be-all and end-all of a person's life. For example, you could label me an urban fantasy geek, a lover of Celtic, Medieval and World music, a badminton player, an animal lover, or a diva just as easily as you could label me a Goth. There are many more facets to you and to your personality than could ever be covered by a simple piece of social shorthand - which is why I believe that labels shouldn't matter.
Things get even weirder when people start setting time limits on things. On Wikihow, for example, there's an article that says something along the lines of, "If you've been Goth for at least seven years, then it's OK to start saying you're Goth." Really? Does this mean that people who only discovered Goth three or four years ago are 'less Goth' than someone who's been aware of the scene for years? What if you've had the mindset all your life, started listening to the music eight years ago, and started dressing Goth a year ago? This is just silly.
The only time that labelling becomes a problem is when people use these labels to pass judgement on others - to stereotype you and discriminate against you because of the label they've applied to you. For example, "Tattooed people are trouble;" "Blondes are stupid;" "Loners are dangerous."
Basically, "That person is a Goth," is fine. "That person is a Goth, therefore they eat babies and want to kill everyone," is not. "That person is a Goth, therefore they eat babies and want to kill everyone, so we should beat them up," is definitely not.
All those people who start having hissy fits when labels are applied to them are fighting a losing battle. How will their friends and family describe them to others without applying some sort of tag? "He's an art student with brown hair." That's two labels, right there. At the very least, people who go about shouting, "Don't label me!" are going to be labelled, 'people who don't want to be labelled'.
And why does it really matter? If you're proclaiming your absolute individuality, then you clearly aren't bothered much about what people think of you. So who cares if they think you're punk, Goth, emo, chav... whatever? Having a label does not mean that you have to be stereotyped. I'm a Goth and a fan of Linkin Park (I saw you wince there...) and t.A.T.u, for example. Belonging to the Goth subculture defines some of my tastes - but not all.
It's fine to think of yourself as a Goth, a gamer, a fan of Tim Burton - anything! But don't let yourself feel trapped by those definitions, because there is always more to a person than a single label can encompass.
Now, I don't think I've posted a free download in a while, so I'll just squeeze one in here. This song is called Crystal Castle (click title for link) and it's by a gorgeous Russian darkwave band called Purple Fog Side. The video is quite stunning too.
Listening to: Top of the City - Kate Bush