By definition, counter-culture is the culture that is at variance with the currently accepted social norm. The term counter culture arose in the 1960s in the United States, around the time of the Vietnam War. There was extensive social unrest and upheaval throughout the country as the younger generation began questioning, rejecting, and overturning established cultural, social, and political values. Revolutionary ideas about sexual freedom, feminism, race relations, drug usage, pop music, pop art, and more began gaining momentum and greater acceptance.
Importance of counter culture
Counter culture altered American society and had wider social ramifications worldwide. Here are a few reasons why counter-culture is important:
It offers an alternative lifestyle
Many people began gathering under the flag of counter-culture as they did not experience a sense of belonging in traditional society and wanted to create a new reality where they could live a more meaningful existence. And that is what makes counter-culture so important. It encourages people to explore their individualism, rather than go along with the general flow.
You don’t have to settle for a nine-to-five existence if you find it oppressive. You can explore an alternative lifestyle and find ways to make it work for you. For instance, you might want to move out of the city to a rural setting and follow a comparatively less stressful life. You could grow your own food, make your own music, create your own art, and take up various DIY projects. You could learn to become more self-sufficient and self-reliant, and, thereby, more self-accepting.
A large part of the stress that people often experience comes from trying to fit in with everyone and living up to other people’s expectations. When you no longer have to do that, life starts to look more promising. With no coercion involved, you can also build better social relationships with people with similar or different outlooks.
It allows for a different way of thinking
In conservative societies, people tend to toe the line and follow conventional lines of thinking about things. If anyone deviates from what everyone thinks is socially acceptable, they may find themselves ostracized and shunned as social pariahs. With counter culture, on the other hand, people can freely question established mores and reject them if they don’t like them.
They don’t have to force themselves to agree with ideas that go against their personal values. Instead, they can express their individuality and not be afraid of being rejected socially and punished legally by their peers. They can write books, perform music, and create art that examines various life issues from different points of view. They can help create a more diverse, vibrant, and tolerant society.
It opens up more opportunities
When you know there are more ways of doing things in the world, you will be able to find more life opportunities for yourself. You will be able to carve out your own path in your professional life as well as in your personal life. As a result, you can have more control over the direction your life takes, make your own decisions on all the important and not-so-important matters, and experience more satisfaction with the way things are going.
You can find or create a job or a career that is more to your liking and better suited to your personality. You can leave a relationship that is not working for you. You can live where you want. You can travel to experience and learn from other cultures.
The danger of counter culture
Counter culture may be less apparent today as our society, on the whole, is more heterogeneous, and people are generally more accepting of differences than they were in previous times. However, while being tolerant and accepting are generally good values to have, it is possible to go overboard and transition into exactly what you were opposed to in the beginning. For instance, you might find yourself opposing and trying to suppress people who reject the everything-goes mentality and want to return to more stable traditional ways. That is becoming a counter-culture in itself now.
When espousing the cause of counter culture, take care that your zeal for personal freedom does not impinge on someone else’s values and desires.
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