What is Emo - Your guide to understanding the Emo culture and way of life

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What is Emo?

A culture beyond definition.
Search on any online dictionary for the word "emo" and it will be extremely hard to find a single definition. Maybe that's the whole point. What is Emo? Emo simply can't be defined; it is a music genre, a way of dressing, a lifestyle, a persona and, above all, a personality! For those dedicated followers of all things "emo" its appeal lies very much in its obscurity.

The Birth of Emo
Some of you are, perhaps, are not only concerned with the question "What is emo?" but are also interested in where this word actually came from. Whilst emo is no longer a term limited to the music industry, it certainly has its roots in all things punk. "Emotive/Emotional Hardcore" is a term that is commonly attributed to an 80s band named the "Rites of Spring," whose use of emotion during their performances departed from the typical hardcore D.C Punk pieces of the era. For a music scene that was traditionally associated with aggressive and destructive behaviors, such displays of emotion and self expression required the creation of a new genre term. The word emo was born to describe this latest form of music; punk with feeling. Whilst it should be noted that Rites of Spring themselves deny any association with this term and its ensuing mini-movement, it has indeed been frequently used to describe their music, thus explaining why they have been identified as the founders.

What is Emo beyond Music?

The word emo has evolved to be much more than a music genre. People don't just listen to emo; they dress, talk, act and even think emo! For the people who follow this movement, it isn't something they want to be, nor is it a label; it is simply something that they are. Whilst the people who follow emo trends tend to choose similar styles of dress and appearance, (tight black clothes, messenger bags and long sweeping fringes) their style is very much focused on individuality and unique personality.

In today's press the word emo is utilized to describe anything associated with open, direct displays of self-expression or emotion. Unfortunately, in some circles it has developed negative connotations with depression, self-harming and suicidal behaviors. However, one must question the logic of this. If encouraging teenagers to express their emotions openly is causing such angst, one dreads to think what impact suppressing them would have! The reality is that emo is simply a youth culture (the average emo follower is between 14 and 23), which encompasses individuals who use clothes, music and hair styles to explicitly portray their innermost feelings and personality.

What is The Future of Emo?

Some people believe that emo as a popular trend is coming to an end, slowly being replaced by "scene" which is being heralded as a less emotional and self pitying version of emo. For others though, emo is what they are, it is part of their individuality and etched in their hearts. For these people emo is forever.

I hope this answers the question of "What is Emo?"