A while ago I posted a rather controversial article about cyberpunk outliving steampunk. Since then, I have made a very interesting discovery. This discovery only applies to Germany but I can imagine you find similar developments in other countries.
It seems there exists a rather significant substratum of people who are interested in steampunk and who do steampunky things but do not think of themselves as steampunks. It is either that or I have an uncanny knack of attracting the weirder elements of society. Both things could be true, coming to think of it.
Let me elaborate on this substratum:
Over the past two years I have significantly toned down my active participation in the steampunk scene, because family and being a teacher simply is too time-intensive for me travelling around and I have also become a bit disillusioned with the scene, like I stated in the linked article above and its follow-ups.
What I still do, though, is wearing steampunk accessories like steampunk ties, tie-pins and other gadgets and jewelry. On a surprising number of occasions this has garnered comments both from colleagues and from other people I just happened to talk with (some are parents of my pupils, some I just know). The comments were all along the line of “Oh, are you interested in steampunk, too?” And once I told them I used to be a prominent member of the German scene and had actually authored a book, their curiosity was triggered and they also told me about what they liked about steampunk, what they had done etc.
Most of them were just interested in the literature and the Victorian Era inspired fashion but others were active crafters and tinkerers who simply enjoyed playing with the aesthetics of steampunk. A colleague of mine, for example, loves bicycles and repairs them in his spare time or builds new ones out of the parts of several old ones. His latest project is a steampunk bike that was also partly inspired by Mad Max. Another one was the mother of a pupil who is into making costumes and had thought about creating a steampunk dress for herself.
So unless I am actually a weirdo-magnet, there exists a stratum of society as a whole who has an interest in steampunk that is not strong enough to participate in events or dress the part on a regular basis but who are interested enough to recognize steampunk, maybe do something inspired by steampunk when the opportunity presents itself and have a positive attitude towards steampunk in general. A rather happy thought and an observation that, if true, could extend the survival of steampunk considerably.