søndag den 2. marts 2014

The Nostalgic Future of Lolita Communities

The Lolita Community is like a "pocket society" within the larger world community. It seems like the Lolita community exists on it's own, like a small town on the outskirts of the big city of "Modern World", and has it's own set of values, it's own customs, habits and even language.
But I've found that it's not quite so. Through the last couple of years, the Lolita community and fashion has changed tremendously! The change is moving at an incredible speed, maybe because our community is as small as it is. I think it's moving even quicker than the broader society, actually.

This post is me reflecting upon the change of the Lolita community that I've observed over the last couple of years, and why I think it's moving in the direction it is.

When I first got into Lolita, about 3-4 years ago or so, the global Lolita community really was Global with a capital G. The community was connected through huge communities, like EGL, and once in a while a new community would be born to knit Lolitas from around the world even closer. The communities were active and thriving, with multiple new posts pretty much every hour. People would start discussions about various aspects of Lolita culture, share fun experiences in Lolita and they would eagerly ask other people to share their stories as well. It was not just this social aspect of Lolita that the communities thrived on, but also the sharing of drawings, sewing creations and the like.
As many of us know, the EGL community seems to be slowly dying out. I think this shows a very interesting change in the mentality and social life of Lolitas in general.

From my observations, this decline in activity within the global communities has happened slowly, but it really dropped within the past year, reaching it's current low-point.
Reading through the Gothic and Lolita Bibles from the early 2000's, Lolita started out as a very personal thing, or a local, small-group hobby. Lolitas would gather in their local communities to do crafts together and whatever we do at meet-ups today. Then the global communities happened, and they grew.
It seems that currently, Lolita is moving backwards towards the situation we had before this globalization.
I think Lolitas simply got fed up with the global community, and the inevitable "Global Hierarchy" that happened along with it. With the global community we got a lot of interesting discussions, but at the same time it meant a situation where Lolita was no longer just your business. The "Rules" were established, as the Global Community were established, and it meant that everybody had to conform to certain standards. It's a natural part of group formation, I think, and it took away some of the romance of Lolita life.
Having to live up to the expectations and tastes of an entire world became too much of a burden, and so, the Lolita community broke up to go back to the old days where you could participate more freely.

Apart from being a symptom of the Lolita community getting "fed up", I think it's also part of a movement in society at large. I see more and more people deleting their Facebook accounts and putting their phones on stand-by for longer periods of time. The idea of going offline is gaining momentum.
At least where I'm from, the idea of the "simple life" is trending.
Making your own stuff and buying local produce is "in", whereas big corporation and globalization is losing it's charm.

I think it's a symptom of nostalgia. Everybody want to regress back to a state of closer connections. Closer connections to the foundations in life, from food to the people around you. From virtual connections to eye-to-eye contact. From global communities to local communities.

Lolitas have left the global communities and moved on to Facebook. Not to discuss the fashion in all it's aspects, but to use it as a simple tool for arranging meet-ups with the people who matter. Tumblr has become a thing, but mostly as a tool for inspiration. Only rarely do we see real judgement. Gossip blogs spring up, but they die out quickly. Tumblr is more like a virtual quick-fix magazine.
The real talk and gossip goes on around tables at tea houses or picnics in the real world.

Small-town drama will always exist, but it's a lot easier to deal with than "Behind the Bows".
Some Lolitas might be lucky enough to have the support of friends within their local communities. Even if they don't, it's a lot easier to just shut the door on a judgemental community after a bad meet-up, than knowing that what might feel like a million strangers is judging you on the internet.
Those mean comments will follow you around because of the internet's constant presence.
Mean gossip dissapears into thin air, and so you can forget and let go.

My point is, I think Lolitas are longing for that closed knit community that was at the roots of our community, back in the day. Also as a way of rekindling the magic of Lolita as a personal way of life. Fashionwise, I think this will change the fashion as well. When nobody has to live up to the judgement of strangers, nothing will stand in the way of free experimentation. I don't think the shared idea of what Lolita is about will die out, but everybody will have their own way of painting within this canvas.

This global evolution of fashion will not be for us to see, though.
The only Lolita-volution we will soon be able to follow will be our own, and as we move towards that future, it becomes more and more clear to me that our own is the only one that matters.

2 kommentarer :

  1. From what I've seen, you're right, and it's an interesting development. On one hand I'm happy, because I've never liked online networking replacing real human contact, but on the other hand it makes me feel a bit sad-- there is no community in my area because there just aren't any other lolitas around, so for me it's a bit of a loss of connection.

    Also, I miss the pseudo-psychological, navel-gazing, slightly Novala-esque discussions you'd see back in the days of Princess Portal or early Lolita Charm. They always make me nostalgic for my early days! Since egl and discussion-and-lifestyle blogs became less popular, I haven't seen much of that sort of indulgent lolita philosophising. Perhaps people just haven't felt the need, as community has become the norm in place of solitary lifestyle?

    What I'm personally hoping is that it's largely because lolita is becoming big enough not to need a global online community. There are enough lolitas in most areas now for everyone to know a few, so the internet is no longer the only place for us to find kindred spirits, as it were. I mean, look at most goth boards; they're all but dead--pardon the pun-- and mostly full of newbies and people with too much time on their hands. Most of those people are out and about socialising with other goths in physical space. Maybe that's happening to lolita?

    I'm also wondering, in light of the past few years' Classic shift, if it's because lolitas as a group are getting older? We're no longer Facebook-addicted teenagers and have learned to value face to face contact over a post on someone's wall, perhaps.

    1. That's an interesting point, actually, that it might also be because Lolita as a community has grown so much. You don't need a global community to share stories with, if you can just search for a local comm on facebook and attend the next meet-up.

      Lots of the posts on EGL these days seem to be people "Looking for local Lolitas!", and since they don't return to start a friendly discussion about what Lolita means to them, it would seem they are succesful in finding local communities to hang out with instead.

      From what I've seen through "Ramble Rori"'s interesting statistics, it would seem that many Lolitas are in their 20's and have been in the fashion for half a decade or more, but the younger generation is still very well represented. The new Lolitas joining the fashion might not be as well acquainted with Livejournal as a platform, though. Facebook is a lot more popular with the younger generation, and as is Tumblr and Instagram, which are currently being used more and more by Lolitas.

      It might be a shift in generation and trends, simultaniously.

      Oh, and I'm so with you on the "pseudo-philosophy" part! Those meant a lot to me back when I got into the fashion. They always got me even more excited about starting out!


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