How To Shield Your Subculture Through Obfuscation

Are there still ways to keep secrets online? Final Boss Form writes:

A subcultural style [cannot] be “owned”. The only way to ensure that your aesthetic is not going to become used by others is to never share it with anyone. Another approach is to protect your aesthetic with physical violence (see: gang colors). Otherwise, once you allow your presence to be seen, it can be consumed.

Most communities protect their culture through some form of obfuscation. Some of this practice is incredible.

• Tum bl r an d LJ u sers sep ar ate w ords the ough o dd spacin g in o rde r to fo ol sea rc heng i nes.
• Chinese users hide political messages in image attachments to seemingly benign posts on  Weibo.
• General Petraeus communicated solely through draft mode.
• 4chan scares away the faint of heart with porn.
• More technically astute groups communicate through obscure messaging systems.

21 Comments on "How To Shield Your Subculture Through Obfuscation"

  1. Anarchy Pony | Apr 3, 2013 at 11:26 am |

    John has a long mustache. John has a long mustache.

    • – The World At War, right?

      or was it The Longest Day?

      • Anarchy Pony | Apr 3, 2013 at 11:45 am |

        The original Red Dawn of course. But it’s been used in quite a few places.

        • Ittabena | Apr 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm |

          Okay, now I have to look. I am sure it was in one of the ones I mentioned, and they are both older. The search for the original begins.

          It’s like the Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges. Actually in three different movies, but the original was the Huston/Bogart film Treasure of the Sierra Madres.

          • Anarchy Pony | Apr 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm |

            That’s just where I know it from, I seriously doubt it was the first place it was used.

  2. Chaos_Dynamics | Apr 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm |

    Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

  3. This brings up a lot of questions for me re form vs. content. While the two are inextricably linked, and “actions speak louder than words,” and “the media is the message,” is an aesthetic (fashion) really worth obfuscating (lying) over? Doesn’t the very act of hiding alter style? Seems to me that worrying about being imitated prevents authenticity, and sacrifices substance for appearance (or disappearance). Isn’t a disingenuous subculture just as bad as the disingenuous mainstream culture? Shouldn’t our efforts be towards being honest rather than being different?

    • Calypso_1 | Apr 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm |

      This was dealt with extensively by Frazer in ‘The Golden Bough’ where he catalogs the magical/linguistic apparatus of renaming objects, particularly objects of power to 1) maintain their power, 2) maintain the integrity of a group from co-opting. Be it in the formation of new tribal identities or in maintenance of the status quo.

  4. Chaos_Dynamics | Apr 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm |

    AMESLAN works quite well irl scenarios particularly when coupled with unique regional or localized/personalized nuances such as modded vocabulary and slang.

  5. BrianApocalypse | Apr 3, 2013 at 4:49 pm |

    This technique is employed by ‘witchouse’ bands with names like ‘~▲†▲~’. An attempt to deliberately engineer obscurity to remain cool and uncontaminated.

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