Dress Codes and Netiquette

Greetings, Faithful Readers, and welcome to 2001! Now, the Lady of the Manners realizes that she promised at the end of her December column that she would, in this month’s column, talk about how being a jeans-and-t-shirt goth was perfectly acceptable. And she IS going to talk about that. However, she’s going to slip some other topics in at the end of the column, and thought it was only fair to warn you.

Now, the Lady of the Manners is sure that there are whole swarms of you out there who are goths of the jeans and t-shirt variety who don’t need someone else to tell you that YES, you really are a goth. But! You would be amazed at the number of emails Gothic Charm School gets all the time from young gothlings, saying things such as, “My friend said I’m not a REAL goth,” just because they (unlike their friends, apparently) choose to wear jeans and t-shirts. So the Lady of the Manners would like to take this opportunity to address THEIR fears.

Yes darlings, you are Real Goths. Even if your classmate with the oh-so-spo0o0o0o0kie panda bear eye make-up says you’re not. Not everyone is comfortable dressed head to toe in lace, PVC, and velvet; others just don’t want to be bothered with the considerable effort of shopping and getting dressed that those sorts of wardrobes involve. Some of the Lady of the Manners’ dearest friends wear jeans and t-shirts all the time, because that’s what they like.

Being goth, believe it or not, does not hinge on your choice of clothing. Well, not entirely. (The Lady of the Manners still refuses to believe that pale buttercup yellow is goth, but DOES understand the “pink is the new goth” idea.) Goth is a mindset, a certain aesthetic that one feels comfortable with. There isn’t, however, a sooper sekrit instruction manual that the Goth Cabal mails out that includes a dress code.

Uh-oh. the Lady of the Manners said a flame-war phrase. Dress Code. Many, many people get upset by the idea of goth clubs enforcing a dress code. Now, while the Lady of the Manners DOESN’T agree with a Universal Gothic Dress Code, she DOES agree with a dress code for gothy-type clubs. Why? Well, most people who would be working the door of a goth club and enforcing the dress code are fairly clued in. They would be able to tell the difference between someone wearing a pair of jeans, black boots, and a Bauhaus t-shirt and someone wearing jeans, running shoes, and a t-shirt with a sports team logo. The first person would probably be someone who was familiar with the goth scene, while the second person would probably only be there to sightsee and “look at the freaks!” Clubs with a gothy clientele NEED to feel safe ”” when the Lady of the Manners gets all dolled up to go out dancing, she would like to be assured that she is not going to be accosted by people who have no idea what goth is about; she would also like to not have conversations of the “so you’re one of those lesbian vampire chicks, right? Wanna suck my blood?” type. When goth clubs have dress codes, those sorts of encounters happen far, far less.

But, club dress codes aside, there isn’t any one Official Look for goths. Honest. It would be very boring, and the Lady of the Manners would scratch the eyes out of any girl who was dressed exactly like her.

(No, not really. That was a joke. Honest.)

In fact, people who tell other people that they’re “not a REAL goth” seem to be a bit insecure, don’t they? Am I Goth or Not? aside, no one is really judging people, scorecard in hand, for their level of gothness. The Lady of the Manners may joke about it occasionally with her friends, but that’s all it is ”” a joke. Jeans and t-shirts are goth, velvet is goth, the Powerpuff Girls are goth. Marilyn Manson is not, but is very, very amusing.


Now with that taken care of (one hopes), on to that Other Topic the Lady of the Manners mentioned.

One of the gothy mailing lists that the Lady of the Manners subscribes to has been having a recent flurry of people who seem ignorant of basic Netiquette. Even some of the newsgroups the Lady of the Manners frequents seem to be having this problem. So, fed up with it, the Lady of the Manners decided to host a brief refresher course.

1. White space. White space, white space, white space. White space is a thing of beauty. White space makes your posts easier to read. Long lines of text crammed together with no white space for breathing room look like a collection of huge run-on sentences, even if they aren’t. That can make your posts less inviting to read. The Lady of the Manners has been known to delete posts sight unseen from people who have shown in the past that they don’t know how to use white space.

2. Wacky Internet spellings. Yes yes, you are a child of the Internet, and you think “kewl” is perfectly acceptable. It’s not. And the Lady of the Manners doesn’t care how elite a hacker you are ”” using numbers and symbols in place of letters in your text gets annoying to read. Haikus written in that sort of thing, however, can be very funny.

3. However, sniping at people for spelling errors in their posts is petty. Really, it is. Sometimes people’s fingers get ahead of their brains, and they don’t check for typos.

4. Having said that, one really SHOULD try to make sure that one’s posts don’t contain typos or misspellings. After all, how one writes is how one will be judged in on-line communication. Someone may be the most amazing thinker of their time, but will still be dismissed in an email discussion if they consistently misspell everything.

5. Put replies below the text you’re replying to, and cut out unnecessary quoted text. Yes, the Lady of the Manners is perfectly aware that for some e-commerce and tech-support replies, quoted text should go at the bottom, and replies will go at the top. However, in newsgroup and mailing list postings, it’s considered polite to put your reply directly below the point you’re responding to.

There. That wasn’t so hard, was it? The Lady of the Manners didn’t even get into discussing the special hell reserved for people who forward those huge lists of jokes.

With that out of the way, the Lady of the Manners is off to have a cup of tea. Be sure to come back next month ”” a nice non-goth boy wrote in asking how to go about apologizing to a goth girl he used to yell insults at. Oooooh, the Lady of the Manners can’t wait for that one!

Now, if you (yes you, and sit up straight!) have a burning etiquette question, just send it right along to headmistress@gothic-charm-school.com

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