What is a Modern Counterculturist? Am I One?

"A counterculturist is a member of a subculture whose values and norms of behavior deviate from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores.” - Wikipedia  

Also Known As:

  • Renegade
  • Norm bucker
  • Eccentric
  • Non-conformist
  • Maverick
  • Free spirit
  • Dissident



My Definition

A counterculturist is an ambitious person, who asks “Why?” when examining all cultural and societal norms. If the answer is unsatisfactory, the counterculturist explores alternatives, which may result in creating his/her own approach or methodology.

Counterculturists do not accept the answer “that’s how we do things” the way that mainstreamers do. Being a counterculturist is part of our nature. We are eager learners--often with multiple interests--intent on optimizing our own way of life and possibly moving to effect change outside our inner circles.

Counterculturists feel most alive when they are exploring alternative ways to accomplish things. We excel when we discover a new countercultural solution to mainstream problems. Though the goal is not to “be a rebel or anti-society,” we are more open to change than most.

Regarding new scientific studies, revolutionary books, early adoption of technology and cutting-edge ideas, we are all ears. Though we may explore them all, we only retain those that meet our standard of practicality and veracity. All new pursuits are balanced with a healthy dose of skepticism. As a result, we are often known as innovators and creative problem solvers.



The aspect of counterculture that bothers us the most is feeling to confined to an ideology or one way of doing things. We want the freedom to freely explore ideas, experiment with them and even discard them when they don’t meed our needs at any given time. Once we learn all that we feel we can learn about a topic/practice/idea, we either adopt it as part of our lifestyle or move on to the next interest.

But, we begin to die when we feel confined or stunted. This feeling of confinement could be felt in a relationship/friendship, an ideology, a career, a geographical location and many other aspects of modern life. We often fret or feel guilty when we “change direction,” as if it’s a sin against society to change. Many of us are also multipotentialites (the opposite of specialists), and we thrive on new adventures.


Mainstreamers Misunderstand Us

It’s sad, but true. Mainstreamers tend to see us as those who are seeking to be different for the sake of being different or countercultural. This is not the case.

We are often labeled as rebels and eccentrics because we choose a lifestyle that is antithetical to all that is precious to a Mainstreamer. Our values might seem threatening if Mainstreamers perceive them as tearing down the tried-and-true and bringing in the kookie-alternatives. On the contrary, we are simply more interested in thinking outside the box and aligning ourselves accordingly, whether or not it matches up with mainstream ideals.


Counterculture in History

There are a few prominent examples of sweeping countercultures in history, but these are only a fraction of the movements.

  • Romanticism
  • Bohemianism
  • Beat Generation
  • Hippie movement
  • LGBT counterculture
  • Psychedelic rock culture

If you have any others you’d like me to add to this list, email me here.

Many counterculturists are actually a part of smaller subcultures, not those so widely recognized as the above. For example, a counterculturist might be a part of the slow food movement, be an avid supporter of an LGBT group, take part in biohacking and live a minimalist lifestyle. Another counterculturist could be interested in saving the rain forests, blog about elimination communication and follow trans-humanism.

The common thread tying counterculturists together is that they all are insatiably curious and explore alternatives to what’s accepted as the norm by Mainstreamers.


Counterculturists and Lifestyle Design

Lifestyle design is often a common interest of counterculturists. We are intrigued by the countless discoveries we will make along our journey and are intent on designing an optimal lifestyle for ourselves and those in our inner circle.

How lifestyle design and counterculturalism coincide is one of the overarching themes we will be exploring in the Mindi Zone.