EDM. It’s becoming more popular than sliced bread, spreading faster than Bieber Fever, but it’s still getting a bad rap. Why? As typically happens with any mainstream pop culture phenomenon, the media latches on to the worst parts of the scene (the sex, the drugs, the deaths) and then they blow them up until the only thing a parent can do is worry about their child - despite what SHM says - and they fear that this terrifying world of bass drops and teenage crime will corrupt their kids and destroy them with lasers.
I mean, I get it. I can see how my parents might be freaking out right now if I was a teenager trying to immerse myself in “club life”. Those scary parts of the EDM scene do exist, and bad things do happen (no pun intended), but isn’t that true of any culture and of any teenager? There are always two sides to every story, and there is another way to look at the effect EDM is having on American teens; one that actually casts this EDM movement in a positive light:
EDM Might Be the Saving Grace of Our Wasted Youth.
Yes parents, you read that correctly. The media is telling you that EDM is ruining your child’s life, but I’m here to tell you that the media is wrong, and that EDM might be the most important extracurricular activity your child signs up for this school year.
Before “Music Festival Mania” hit, I remember being bombarded with studies and news reports stating that essentially, technology is driving our youth into the ground. The smart phones, the non-stop texting, the tweeting, the obsession with broadcasting every little detail of a life that isn’t really being lived; all of this has caused both the frequency and quality of face-to-face human interaction amongst our youth to decrease at an alarming rate, along with the development of standard social skills. Even worse, as social development in teens has taken a nosedive, there’s also been a drastic spike in cyberbullying.
We’re no stranger to cyberbullying over here at Bad Kids. Some of you might remember the Swifties situation from last Summer? Ring a bell? If so, you might also remember the veracity of the messages we were receiving from these young Taylor Swift-loving teens. It was horrifying to see that the younger generation has become so violent and aggressive, but it makes sense. When a young developing mind walks around on the daily holding a portal to the rest of the world in their hands, there are no limits or censorship - they are exposed to everything. These kids absorb every insult, every derogatory, homophobic, racist term they come across on Twitter, and then regurgitate those terms in their messaging on the internet, where a person can pretty much say anything short of threatening the President’s life without consequence.
When it comes to cyberbullying, today’s teens have zero fear about repercussions. With today's technology, a kid could launch a full-fledged cyber attack on another individual, without ever being held accountable for their actions, as they would in real life. Therefore, they don't ever get to see the result of their actions. They don't get to see the hurt, the tears, or the self-harm they’ve caused for the human being on the other side of the screen. This is a scenario where face-to-face human interaction is SO necessary to make a change in a kid's behavior. It’s a lesson that I learned growing up many times, and it has completely shaped the person I am today. Unfortunately for today's teen population, those valuable life lessons are never learned, and the cyberbullying continues to increase.
In fact, the #1 cause of death in teens is currently suicide due to cyberbullying. When your self-worth is determined by how many Instagram followers you have, or how many likes you got on your last Facebook post, it's not so easy to simply ignore those nasty comments your classmate just tweeted about you. The media is right about one thing - technology is killing our youth.
So where does EDM come into play in this bleak-looking picture I've just painted?
Well, to answer that question we have to jump back in time for a hot second. Before it was called EDM, it was called house music, or techno. Before it was called “going to a festival”, it was called raving. And before we were called Bad Kids, we were called Kandi Kids. The EDM culture that we know today originated from a generation of Kandi Kids in the late 80’s and early 90’s who governed their rave scene by one very simple guiding principle: Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. Otherwise known as PLUR. Some of you will argue that PLUR is dead. It’s not dead. The scene has changed, that’s for sure, but PLUR is not dead. It still runs through the EDM-sphere like veins through a body, pumping blood to the heart, making us all Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.
Below are 4 things EDM can teach this generation to save it from it’s technology-obsessed, depressed, inactive, anti-social, aggressive, violent, uneducated, ADD-ridden self:
1) The Act of Giving
Whether it be a piece of kandi, a Bad Kids bracelet, or a drink of water at a show, giving to others as an act of pure generosity is a learned behavior that is taught through consistent demonstration within the EDM community.
They say practice what you preach, and we all do. Most of us would give you the shirt off our backs if asked - I’ve seen it happen on multiple occasions - because the act of giving is what keeps us all connected, like a snake eating it’s own tail. We pay it forward, sharing our positive energy and good vibes with our fellow Bad Kids, who then pay it forward by doing the same, and so on and so on. There is no EDM law that says “You are required to share your belongings and give selflessly to strangers upon entering a show or festival,” but it might as well be, because the first time you see the EDM community give itself to you, you will want to give it right back in any way you can. And that, my friends, is something that you can’t learn on the internet.
2) Interpersonal Skills
Now as for those social skills that are on the brink of extinction…
Before I went to my first rave in college, I remember going out to parties or bars, and it was like high school all over again. Crews didn’t really mix, everyone typically stuck to their own cliques, sizing everyone else up from across the room the whole night. Basically it was like groundhog’s day every single time we went out. No new people, no new experiences, no stimulation - same shit, different day.
One of the main reasons kids fall in love with the EDM scene is that the culture promotes itself as a “family”. Therefore, the lines of communication between 50,000 people are wide open, and suddenly you’re making more friends in one day than you’ve made in the last 5 years. Hell, I don’t think there’s been a time we’ve ever left a festival without a rave crew twice the size of the one we had when we arrived. Bottom line: An EDM event is a place where kids from all different walks of life, all different socioeconomic statuses, all different races, sexual preferences, religious and political beliefs and completely different personalities, come together to dance and talk and bond under one very basic commonality - their love for Electronic Dance Music.
3) Individuality and Self-Love
The EDM scene is one where everyone is encouraged to be who they are and to let their freak flag fly. It is an environment where acceptance is the law. There is no judgement. There are no cliques. There is no high school hierarchy. “Cool” isn’t a measurement. In fact, the rave scene might be one of the only places where the more you stand out, the more you fit in. Why else do you think this guy dresses up as a tube of toothpaste and calls himself Toothpaste Man? Because he is not only 100% accepted for who he is - a man who loves to dress up in a Toothpaste costume every time he raves - but he is also loved, praised, and high-fived for it within the community.
EDM promotes individuality above all else. You are encouraged to be exactly who you are, to dance like no one’s watching and to be FREE of the societal restrictions imposed upon you in the real world. I’ve seen kids discover entirely different personalities that they never knew they possessed after spending one day at a festival.
It’s a crazy concept - I know - but amazing things can happen when kids are taught to embrace and celebrate their differences, instead of waking up every day hating themselves because they don’t look exactly like a photoshopped version of Kim Kardashian.
4) Active Lifestyle
Before the internet, kids had no choice other than to run around outside all day, playing with their friends, all while soaking up Vitamin D, burning calories and producing endorphins. Today, most teens live a completely sedentary lifestyle behind a screen. Why go outside when you could watch other people be outside on TV? Why move when you’re perfectly comfortable lounging on the couch, eating junk food? Why socialize face to face when you can text or tweet your friends right from your living room couch?
Because it’s GOOD FOR YOU. That’s why. It’s necessary in the developmental process of a young person in this society to be a happy, healthy and motivated individual. Teens within the EDM community get all three of these things when they go to a festival. They’re outdoors in the sunshine, they’re dancing and sweating and producing endorphins, and they’re doing it right alongside a ton of other kids their age. In fact, I'm willing to bet that teens who listen to EDM are healthier both physically and mentally than kids who do not. If anyone wants to conduct that study for me and let me know how it goes - I’d be greatly appreciative.
What I’m trying to convey here is that while there are absolutely some negative aspects to the EDM scene, the good it does for a young person in this society FAR outweighs the bad. Life is meant to be lived, kids, not simulated.