The gothic lifestyle is identified as a branch that makes more use out of the tangible aspects, such as books, movies, music and fashion, that interests its members. The Free Dictionary defines a lifestyle as “a set of attitudes, habits, or possessions associated with a particular person or group” or “such attitudes, etc., regarded as fashionable or desirable.” Wikipedia defines a lifestyle as “A lifestyle typically reflects an individual’s attitudes, values or world view. Therefore, a lifestyle is a means of forging a sense of self and to create cultural symbols that resonate with personal identity,” and elaborates on health, environment, and technology.
A person who establishes a gothic lifestyle is looking at more than making their home decor a little bit darker. They are looking at the themes depicted in their interests and what those themes mean to them. They also look at how much impact those manifestations have in their everyday lives. In order to differentiate between an edgy fashion choice and a lifestyle, the individual will probably ask why those particular things appeal to them, to what degree do those interests have an effect on their social interactions, what decisions are influenced by their interests, and how much significant meaning do those interests have with their identity. It’s not as simple as saying yes or no, and these ideas are significant in the way a person chooses to live their life.
The aspects that go into beginning to create this particular lifestyle are the mindset, the environment concerning the individual, the level of appeal, and the forms of media that a person uses as either a reference or a basis for their expression.
The level of appeal is a question that concerns all members of the goth community. There is one end of the spectrum where it is solely a phase or a weekend style and the other side is it provides something more either as a method of expressing individualism or a deeper connection with oneself. This is a sliding scale however, and it can lean towards one side or the other over time depending on the person.
The environment concerning the individual can come in varying forms, whether the influences on their life are or were very confining or open to an experimentation of appearance and identity. While the media may depict the gothic lifestyle as a rebellious streak in young adults, those in the goth community are more likely to say it’s a gradual process of research and intra-personal communication. Whether a rebellious streak or not, the environment of the individual can change, almost constantly, and there is the environment that one creates for oneself to be considered as well.
The forms of media that an individual is exposed to and consciously explores include literature, music, films, and fashion. There are things that an individual is exposed to with little choice made, for example being assigned to read Edgar Allen Poe in an English class, a major writer in gothic literature or seeing one of the macabre designs of Alexander McQueen while flipping through an issue of Vogue. Then there are conscious decisions made regarding exposure such as what movies are watched and songs are heard. All these things, consciously decided or not, then contribute to the mindset.
The mindset is the most controversial aspect of the gothic subculture, with some members saying there isn’t one and others arguing fiercely that there is. Both sides seem to agree that there are some intellectual similarities amongst its members and this is what will be elaborated upon as the goth mindset. The parts that make the mindset are the attitudes, behaviors and values that a person will pick up from their chosen forms of media. The more they like an attitude, behavior or value, the more likely they are to apply to their life, and reinforce its impression by exposing themselves to it more. Because there is media that members of the subculture agree has made major contributions to the gothic subculture, many members expose themselves to it and pick out things that appeal to them. As they are picking from the same places it’s likely they will find common things and this is where the similarities between members begin. The difference from member to member is the degree to which that common interest is considered to be significant.