You Are Not the Morality Police
I’m an artist. During the course of my yet short career I’ve naturally been making friends (or co-existing in friendly terms, with most) with other artists and clients and it has been excellent so far. However, a few days ago I was made aware of a rather difficult situation that has been making rounds in my head ever since.
Turns out one of these persons has covered up and remains friends with someone who was outed as a child groomer some time ago, and doing something about it wouldn’t pose a problem for me if it weren’t for the fact that said person (the one who’s friends with the predator) lives an incredibly active social life and is also friends with the vast majority of artists and clients I’m also friends with.
I know some of them are aware of this fact, while some others aren’t. The whole group of people goes around connecting with tons and tons of people in different artist owned servers, including mine, so it’s really weird to look at them and have to suspect everyone all of a sudden.
I don’t know what to do about this. I don’t want to be the reason a lot of these people end up fighting each other. I don’t even know if it’s something I should meddle with to begin with. They’ve been friends with each other for far longer than I have. I’ve only known them since this past year and I feel like a complete outsider to the overall group and the whole situation.
I’m not a really big artist. I know that if I spoke up I would probably be eaten alive and that I don’t stand a chance against a group as big as this in my current state, including that I would probably lose a lot of friends in the process. I know they have harassed people in the past because of stuff like this. It’s scary to think that most of my support would completely disappear if I make the wrong move, especially considering that being from a third world country with an ever dying economy, making art on the internet is my only chance of living a slightly better life.
Furthermore, I have plans of moving countries in the future. I'm incredibly scared of the criminality rate of my current place and many people are murdered just in my city alone each year, so I'd go as far as to think my physical health is in danger if I don't move out quickly and art is the thing that will help me on that.
My question is, if someone knows that something around them is bad but doesn't have the power to do anything about it, does that make them equally as bad? I don’t like the idea of allowing these people to keep existing in my space but, is it valid when it’s for the sake of keeping a low profile for self preservation?
I would love to have your opinion on this matter, and I deeply appreciate your time. Thank you.
Anonymous (age 23)
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Interesting question. I assume that by "child" you mean someone who is not of legal age to consent to sex. So, first of all, this is, of course, illegal if we are talking actual sex. Now, you are from outside the USA, apparently, but I don't know where the other parties are. Are they in the United States? If this is criminal behavior outside your own country, it's rather difficult to report.
Another thing to consider is evidence. Is there any solid evidence for what is being claimed or is it just internet chatter? There is a lot of posting on social websites that is complete and utter baloney, and you don't want to contribute to that rumor mill. I'm looking at posts you shared with me on Twitter [not shared here], and even the person making the accusations is using words like "allegedly." I'm also reading these tweets, one of them saying the minor is 17 versus the groomer being 27. Seventeen (and 16), actually, is legal age in 41 of the states in the USA, with 18 being the age of consent in the other nine states. So, if all parties concerned are in one of the 41 states, it's really not a crime.
As for "grooming," it sounds as if the older person is supplying the younger person with pornographic images to try and get them aroused. It is illegal in the USA to show minors pornography, and by "minor," we are again dealing with different laws in different states. So, again, if they aren't in one of those 9 states, it's not illegal. What WOULD be illegal in ALL 50 states would be to have the young person, who is under 18, pose for naked photos or be in a porno film.
So, you see, this can be complicated. As for you making posts about it on, say, art social groups on the internet, I'd say that's unnecessary. Someone other than you has already, clearly, posted a lot about this. There is no obligation to you to warn people and, honestly, it's kind of none of your business. Also, as you said, your posting about it would not help the matter in any way. And, no, you are not a bad person for not raising a flag. You are not the Police of the World's Bad Behavior.
I'm glad you sent me this query as it highlights a problem I see all the time online: People think that it is their job to condemn people vocally on the internet whenever someone does something they consider bad or questionable. The reason this is a problem is that most of the time people are making accusations based on assumptions, rumors, gossip, and opinion, and when you participate in the rumor mill, the result can be the destruction of an innocent person's reputation--or worse. Furthermore, if you are proven wrong, you end up destroying your own respectability and looking like a fool.
Do yourself a favor and stay out of the public forum of dirty laundry. If someone has, indeed, done something immoral or criminal, believe me, people will find out without your help. Now, if someone does something to YOU that is criminal, you obviously should report it to the authorities. That's a no-brainer. Or, if they are simply being an asshole to you, the solution is to cut them out of your life, forget about them, and move on. And if a friend of yours is being hurt, you should go to them in private and offer them your support.
The internet has become a dung heap of trash-talk and lies. Don't become one of the flies attracted by the stench.
Where can you find a website for young furs? I try to go to furry websites but they always say you have to be 18 or older. I need a break from that. I wish I had furry friends to make online, and I just want young furs like me to have fun online too. I look at every furry website, but no young furs are allowed, so please make a website.
Peanut Butter (age 8)
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Dear Peanut Butter,
You are 8 years old, so I am guessing you are not aware of furry history. You see, the furry fandom began back in the 1970s, when a number of sci-fi and comic book fans decided to start making art and writing stories featuring "funny animals" but with adult themes (mostly violence and mature situations, but sometimes involving sex). "Funny animals" are what people used to call talking animals in cartoons such as Bugs Bunny and Mighty Mouse. Anyway, the whole point of furry was to have talking animal characters featured in more mature stories. Now, this doesn't mean X-rated stories, necessarily. There was a lot of sci-fi stuff such as in the now-classic Albedo series. But there was also stuff with more sexual situations, such as the Omaha: The Cat Dancer comic books. As the fandom matured, more and more X-rated stuff has entered websites and publications and, no, it is not suitable for kids under 18.
The demographics (who is in the fandom in terms of age, gender, race, etc. etc.) have been evolving a lot over the last couple of decades. While the majority of furries are still people in their late-teens and twenties (mostly male and white, but there are more women getting involved, as well as non-Caucasian furries), more and more furries are older and more and more are quite young. Furries such as you probably enjoy anthro characters in Disney and Pixar cartoons and films, of course, and then you find out about furries by stumbling upon them online or perhaps hearing about furries from a friend. Anyway, you are not looking for X-rated art. You just want to have fun adopting a fursona and perhaps having some online RPG adventures.
Unfortunately, at this time, there are no social networking sites like FurAffinity or SoFurry that are specifically for cubfurs, especially as young as you. I would LOVE to design and run such a site (and thank you for asking and thinking I could) but I have neither the time nor technical know-how to do so. I do keep my eyes out for such things on the Web, though, and you can be sure I will write about it if I hear anything.
In the meantime, there are still fun things you can do to meet furries in the virtual world. If your parents are okay with it, you can play online RP and other games such as Furcadia (just stay away from the Furrabian Nights adult section, but almost everything else is kid-friendly). You can roleplay while also meeting other furries. Here are some other games you might find enjoyable, many of which offer ways to chat with furries playing the game with you online (some are better for older kids, and some for younger kids):
Many furries meet other furries by playing such games, no matter what their age. In fact, it was in the early days of FurryMuck that contributed greatly to the growth of the fandom back in the 1980s. So, I would recommend you not worry about such places as FurAffinity and instead start playing some furry games.
THEN! Get an account on Discord.com, which is a place where you can hang out and chat with people about your favorite games.
Sorry for being secretive with some of my info, I'm an overly cautious otter.
This isn't so much as a problem but more of asking for directions.
I noticed fat furries are scarce and Google isn't a great help, I'm afraid. So, do you happen to know where fat furries can be found? (I'm a fat otter.)
Similarly, I find it hard to find "greymuzzles"--both those who've been in the fandom since around the beginning and those who are at least in their 40s. In fact, you're the only person I know of, if you identify as a greymuzzle.
... Know what? I'll turn this into a "problem" I usually see you answer.
Specifically, I am interested in dating fat furries and/or grey-muzzles (in the latter case, they needn't be fat furries themselves, just like fat furries), but want to keep it an online relationship/friendship for a long while.
When I was searching, I found some forums and deduced that there are many young furries, and sadly, the usual discussion is about games, playing games together, watching movies, other hobby activities. I find these superficial because you cannot really get to know someone through the media they consume/games they play. Also, and this is only a very personal opinion, I find it difficult to identify with young furries because they are very immature. How do you view them? What trends have you observed running this website?
I'd rather speak with someone who has the mindset of a member of the old furry fandom.
* * *
There are many chubby furries and greymuzzles in the fandom. I guess you didn't know, but I run the Greymuzzles Facebook group which has nearly 1,900 members currently, all over 30 years (you're too young to join, sadly, sorry). There are also several fat furry fan pages on Facebook.
One way to meet mature furries, if you can't find a group you like on a social media site (try Furry Amino, too), is to contact the artists who draw stuff you like and start chatting with them. Many, though not all, of course, who draw fat or older furs are also chubby or older, or they know furries who fit that mold and maybe could connect you. This way, you could start networking and create a circle of friends. And don't forget you have the power to start your own social group anywhere online and start inviting people to join it.
I understand both your interests, actually. I, too, am attracted to hefty furries, and I, too, enjoy conversations with older furries who want to talk about things other than video games or having sex. How do I feel about younger furries? Well, gotta remember that I was a young guy once, too, and enjoyed games and, well, I guess the sex thing is still on the table LOL. But, seriously, I'm fine with furries of all ages, and many of them are bright, talented, and have diverse interests. I enjoy chatting with greymuzzles simply because we have more in common, having grown up with similar experiences, and, sadly, I don't keep up with a lot of the new music artists out there (although it seems to me that the best new music is found online by independent artists and not produced by big record companies—just an observation).
Because the fandom is getting older (the modern fandom has been around for half a century now), we are now seeing second- and third-generation furries. The Old Guard, as I call them, and even 2Gen furries often grouse about the younger furries who are slowly changing the fandom. Long gone are the days of APA publications and things like fursuit etiquette are falling by the wayside, which disturbs a lot of the older fans. What we all need to realize is that things change, and as the fandom grows from a few dozen fans of anthro cartoons into tens of thousands of people worldwide, it has become a very different animal.
The thing to remember is that we are all just here to have some creative fun. Instead of finding things that divide us into subgroups and cliques, we should celebrate and enjoy our commonalities, which, in our case, is the love of anthropomorphic characters. So, even though we might have preferences, we should not dismiss the chance to make new friends with people who don't necessarily fall into our desired specs because we might actually learn new things from them, which, in turn, will make us more open-minded and interesting people ourselves.
As for your comment that you can't get to know someone by the games they play--in reality, the games people play say a lot about them. You might not get a lot of personal details, but there is a big difference between someone who is obsessed with first-person-shooter games versus someone who plays Words with Friends and Candy Crush Saga; similarly, someone who is obsessed with World of Warcraft of Dungeons & Dragons is probably a lot more interesting than someone who only plays Angry Birds (not dissing Angry Birds, it's fun, but you get what I'm saying, hopefully). Massively Multiplayer Online Games, as you likely know, include forums and audio and you can interact with a lot of people there. I used to play around with Second Life a lot, meeting a number of furries. In fact, the whole idea of fursonas grew out of online role play, making such games an important part of furry history and culture.
I've nattered on too long. The point is, really, not to allow ourselves to stereotype entire groups of people. Not all young furs (you're an example) are into gaming, you just have to spend a bit more time looking. And there are plenty of older, chub furries out there. You might try some furry dating sites such as FurryMate or Ferzu (Pounced is, sadly, no more), and just put yourself out there, explaining what you're looking for. With a little tenacity, you'll find it.
This is the second time I have written to you. During my studies, and even before, when I grew bored of TV series, I turned to following world news, American news, and some conservative Internet commentators.
Through these, I learned about the Social Justice Warrior movement and its misguided ways. The extremist members of this movement propagate hate against white people. Is it really ok to hate based on ethnicity? Why did the term "people of color" come to existence with the meaning of non-white people? Is white not a color? If not, then why is black considered a color in this sense? For both white and black are considered shades, not true colors, in art. SJWs connect "whiteness" to the colonizers of the Americas and not only to them, they extend the meaning to all Europeans, a crude generalization and racism on their part. One might ask the question why is it that they only view white people as not belonging to America when, in fact, African slaves were brought there to replace "the Indians" (native Americans), because they couldn't handle the burden of slavery well. So, in this sense everyone except native Americans should get out of your continent, the thought of which is quite absurd. Even so, why do they think it is ok to blame the younger generation for the sins of the older?
When commentators speak about gender and race issues, they make it sound like that SJWs are everywhere and pose a big problem. Because I'm not living there, I have limited means of gathering information. So, I would like to ask you: how widespread is this belief in your society, especially in the furry fandom, since it's known to be one of the most accepting fandoms? Do people get hung up on chasing nonexistent offences, intolerantly preaching tolerance, or is it just a magnified issue which doesn't come up as often? What is your opinion about this in general?
Farkas Ürdüng (23, Hungary)
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I think it was comedian Eddie Murphy who did a humorous stand-up routine about color. Talking about white people, he noted, “When white people get cold, they turn blue; when they get angry, they turn red; when they get sick, they might get yellow or green, but when black people are cold or angry or sick, they’re still black. Seems to me white people are the ones who are colored” *snerk*.
Your letter seems to entangle two separate issues: social justice warriors and white guilt. They are not always the same. SJWs are objects of criticism because they are a form of troll, using insincere outrage over things they have heard are not politically correct and then having vitriolic fits about them online to score social justice points, so they will be seen as popular. Such people only do their “activism” online and do not do anything constructive in the real world to effect real change. In other words, they are frauds. Their use of politically correct mantras is just a tool for trolling; they don’t truly care about the issues they complain about.
Let’s move on to the politically correct movement in America and white guilt. Here is an extremely brief overview of the history behind it: As you are likely aware, the United States has a long history of oppressing other races, especially African Americans and Native Americans, but also other groups, including Chinese and Japanese immigrants, LGBT people, and, of course, women (who weren’t even allowed to vote until 1920, long after black men were “technically” permitted to vote, though many factors made this difficult, such as Jim Crow laws). Beginning with the 1960s Counterculture Movement, which centered in universities, especially those in New England and the West Coast (University of California, Berkeley, was the epicenter), and the Civil Rights Movement led by such figures as Martin Luther King Jr., there was a strong reaction against the injustices perpetrated against minority groups. A dissonance needed to be resolved between these injustices and the American image of being “land of the free and home of the brave.” Obviously, unless you were a white male, most Americans didn’t even start to experience real freedom until just the last few decades of our history.
[Side note: your statement that “African slaves were brought there to replace ‘the Indians’ (native Americans), because they couldn't handle the burden of slavery well” is untrue. Indians experienced slavery, it’s true, under the Europeans, but when it comes to Americans they were more often slaughtered, run off their lands, and put in re-education schools where they were forbidden to use their native languages. Africans were brought in to work the fields, primarily in the South, although a number of Northerners had slaves until those states started making it illegal. In other words, the Indians (who were perfectly capable of being slaves and often were [especially under Spain]) were mostly seen as a people to be exterminated (they posed a challenge to the white American concept of Manifest Destiny), while the Africans were considered a labor resource.]
After generations of work by civil rights leaders, America made progress in its laws to finally treat minorities better. As with any tidal change in society, there are reactionary forces led by about half of America (at least) that is still extremely prejudiced towards these groups. But because it was no longer legal (or at least ignored) in American society to be overtly prejudiced and abusive towards these groups, they kind of went underground. An example: before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages, the state of Michigan passed a state constitution amendment banning such unions. Before it went to a vote, however, polls indicated that most Michiganders were against the amendment. You see, even though the polls were anonymous, people didn’t want to be seen as prejudiced, but when they entered the voting booths, they voted for what was really in their hearts: hate. The same is true with racism in many parts of this country. For example, local leaders in some southern states have removed voting centers in areas with black majorities to make it harder for them to vote, but they say the reason is because they need to cut election costs.
Now, with a racist jackass inhabiting the White House and a majority of minority-hating Republicans in Congress, hateful Americans everywhere have felt empowered to once again spout their prejudices (currently, it is mostly aimed at Muslims from Arabic countries and at immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, and south of the border). Republican leaders justify their actions by labeling Muslim minorities as terrorists and immigrants from Mexico and Central America and other points south as moochers stealing money from American taxpayers. The words on the Statue of Liberty have no meaning to right-wing people.
To point out your correct observation that all Americans are either immigrants or descended from immigrants (except for Indians [and, by the way, it is okay to call them Indians], who got here first), conservative politicians and other Americans do acknowledge this, it is just that they would prefer our immigrants to come from places like—as Trump requested—Norway, which he considers to be not a “shithole country.” The problem there is that people in Norway are generally much happier than Americans and have no compelling reason to flock here en masse.
Like a game of ping-pong, with the counter-revolution of white conservatives on the rise, you are now getting a counter-counter-revolution of left-wingers and those who are obsessed with political correctness, and part of this political correctness is a self-loathing (if you are white) for all the injustices of the past, even if you weren’t personally responsible for them. This is why Columbus Day is celebrated less and less and why there was a recent movement to destroy monuments to Confederate leaders.
As we bounce back and forth, the two extremes become more and more extreme, while moderates in the middle become scarce. Today, we have a deeply divided nation that is literally (judging by voting) a 50/50 split between liberals and conservatives. Add to this the fact that we have lost the ability to compromise in Congress, and that social media encourages people to express hostile opinions without having to hear counterarguments, and you have a real mess on your hands.
Social Justice Warriors are just one symptom of a much larger issue: a country that is as divided today as it was just before the U.S. Civil War and all that this implies. Some states, such as California and Texas, are even mulling over the possibilities of seceding from the union—something that is becoming a possibility because of the lack of true leadership in Washington, D.C.
As for the furry community, it is well established that its members tend toward the left, politically speaking, though there are some conservatives within the fandom, which would imply that there may be more SJW people in the fandom than in the general population (I have no statistics on this, however; it’s just a hunch). I believe that the SJW phenomenon is one restricted, for the most part, to the online world. Mostly, this is people raging against the wind to little or no effect. I find it an annoyance that is easily ignored and avoided.
Much more important than the impotent SJW population is the very real fact that the United States is in serious trouble—politically, socially, economically. Indeed, this is coming to a head involving the Constitution and the power of the Executive Branch, which, at this point, could go one of two ways: 1) in the 2018 and 2020 elections Americans start to regain their senses and bring back some sanity to Washington, or 2) we go the way of Nazi Germany and descend into a dictatorship that would mark the end of the United States as we know it.
And how are things in Hungary?
I'm hoping you could shed some light on a personal issue I've been having for some time now. I've been involved with the fandom for nearly 12 years and the people and community have been a key part of my life through the most critical stages so far. This is how I came across your page actually, and I feel like If I can trust anyone's opinion it would be another fur's.
My problem is that I feel very disconnected from others, especially furs, and this problem has been getting worse over the course of about 3 years. More specifically I feel as though I can't seem to connect with anyone and my previous relationships (both platonic and otherwise) have grown stagnant and faded. I've fallen away from those I used to associate with and there honestly hasn't been much effort on my part to prevent it. There is a constant turmoil inside me of a want for romantic/social satisfaction/acceptance and my lack of motivation to achieve it. I feel exhausted just trying to maintain a basic level of conversation with those I genuinely care about. It's important to note that this is in every aspect of my life and not limited to those associated with the fandom. Recently this has become even more of a burden as most of my social connection has been through the fandom. The need to be a part of something is still there even if I don't have the energy to deal with it. I've tried to become more active by attending con's and connecting more through social media. The issue however seems to be me as I can't form any new friendships or bonds.
Now I know this is not really a critical issue, and through the course of time shouldn't continue but the mental aspect of being completely out of touch with everything and everyone has been taking a toll. I'm beginning to feel more and more out of place and what I can only guess is anxiety seems to be getting the better of me. So all that being said I guess I'm asking if you have any advice for me to fix myself. Are there any key behaviors that are commonly associated with driving people away that I may be engaging in without realizing it? I appreciate any and all advice you are willing to give.
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Thank you for your letter. I have some questions, if you don't mind, about your background first.
Thank you. I look forward to your reply.
* * *
Dear Papa Bear,
Thank you for responding,
I appreciate you taking the time to address my letter. In regards to your first question, I believe I might have some form of moderate social anxiety. I've always been a very reserved and shy person. When I was younger, I would often get nervous around people I didn't know. A lot of progress was made through my teenage years though and up until I started having my current issues it wasn't much of a problem.
As far as personal turmoil, I did experience a non-life-threatening gunshot wound injury roughly around the time frame this started that left me with limited use of my left hand and arm for approximately 8 months. (This was the result of negligence and happened in a controlled environment.) I've since regained about 90% use. The biggest issue I can pull from that experience was it caused me to start having anxiety attacks. Over time, though, this has gotten significantly better and has become pretty rare.
I apologize for not giving more clarity about my lack of effort. The easiest way for me to say it is I just stopped trying to connect with people who were close to me and gave up those friendships. Over a about a 3 year span, I've gradually stopped communicating with people. I've started to lose a sense of connection with people in my life. Things like going out with friends has become more of a chore than something to look forward too. I want to have a social life and enjoy the company of others but now I just feel exhausted trying to start a conversation. It's incredibly confusing to me because I want to have people to cherish in my life but at the same time I feel like I don't have the energy to deal with them. I can't really say why, either. It's not a conscious decision so much as it is a sudden realization.
Life started feeling like a haze somewhere around the time I started going back to work. This was the time that everything seemed to change. Once I got back into the swing of working and dealing with everyday life, I would often forget to talk to people and wouldn't realize it until several weeks had passed. It was odd because it's like I would just forget they existed. I started to really notice that I had distanced myself after It became apparent that many individuals were no longer trying to contact me and I hadn't seen or heard from them in months. I did try to reach out to them but the conversations are typically very dull now and don't get very personal. I don't believe they have much interest in renewing our friendship. (I basically cut them out of my life, so I don't blame them). I've tried to start over by attending cons and utilizing social media more frequently in an effort to motivate myself. So far, this method has failed and I'm at a standstill.
I don't have much of a relationship with my family to be honest. I don't know most of my extended family and I rarely talk to my parents or sister. This is not due to a falling out, we've just never been very close. As for coworkers, I enjoy the people I work with and there have not been any major issues. Any disagreements have always been solved just by talking through it.
There haven't been any conflicts that would have put a strain on my friendships that I know of. Before I fell away from everyone, things were actually going very smoothly.
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Hmm, well, sounds like the gunshot injury occurred at a firing range? Not sure why you still seem to be holding back information on this and are being coy about it. I’m not here to judge you; you can just tell me what happened straight up. This is important because, apparently, your troubles began around the time of the gun accident (perhaps exacerbated by the new job, but since you get along with your coworkers, I’d guess work is not the problem).
My guess at this point, and given the information that I have, is that something happened at that gun range, something that shook your trust in other people (unless this was self-inflicted, but it doesn’t sound like it). I am squinting my eyes between the lines and guessing that someone you trusted very well accidentally shot you, and even though you are recovering from the injury this has caused you great physical and emotional pain.
I don’t feel you are being honest with yourself that this event is all in the past and you’re over it. I really don’t think you are, and because you are suppressing something, it has to get out somehow; with you, the way it is getting out is by affecting your ability to socialize—trust—others. You become disinterested in really trying because whatever happened to you is blocking your ability to relate to others.
If I am right about this, the way to handle it is to face whatever happened at the gun range and deal with it. This means talking openly and honestly to the person who hurt you. You probably don’t feel you can do this because you feel the person didn’t mean to shoot you—and I would believe that to be true, as well. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be upset about what happened; it doesn’t mean you can’t be upset at the person who did this. You can say, “I forgive you,” but you still need to have the catharsis of releasing all the pent-up anger and hurt inside you.
Again, if I am right, it would be a good idea to find a qualified counselor to help guide you through this process.
Let me know,
* * *
Dear Papa Bear,
I've thought a lot about what you've said, and a lot of it does ring true. I'm trying to look at my actions and thoughts now through a different perspective. It's true I didn't want to give details about the incident for a number of reasons, but I can't ask for advise if i'm not willing to tell you the problem. The injury did occur from a friend, it was a complete accident and I know this so I don't like mentioning it. It is difficult for me to go into detail because the whole situation at the time left me feeling vulnerable in a sense. This was a routine trip to a shooting complex and my friend who I'll just call "Fred" was a regular shooter there with me. The golden rule of safe shooting is knowing where your weapon is pointed at all times, well Fred just so happened to forget that rule when his weapon had a malfunction and failed to fire. The slide was locked on a live round and he couldn't unload it, so he turned around keeping the weapon pointed straight out from him which left the barrel aligned with me. He was trying to ask me to hand him a tool to fix the problem, but before he could finish the weapon discharged and sent a bullet through the top of my left hand up into my wrist.
Ever since then when I've talked to Fred we just kind of brush of the whole situation, we never really talked about it. I really just try to avoid thinking about it because there isn't anything I can do to fix it. I don't know if whats going on now is related to that, but I do see your point and I probably should address it with him. It was a scary situation and I've never felt that helpless before so I really don't like bringing it up.
* * *
I understand your reticence, and we both recognize "Fred" didn't mean to hurt you and this was an accident. Even so, you have not emotionally resolved the hurt from this incident, and I truly believe that by pushing those emotions inside you it is now affecting your ability to trust other friends. This might not seem logical, but it is psychologically valid. As you know, I'm not a trained counselor, so I don't know the best way to go about helping you resolve your feelings so you may truly forgive Fred and regain your trust to form friendships and maintain the ones you have, but I think we've really found the problem here and if you talk to a counselor about it who is trained to help you in such matters, I think it will go a long way to helping you.
Today I went through a deep emotional distress, soo much soo I've been thinking about hanging up my basic mascot suit and just leaving the community for good, I don't feel welcome or settled in, I know I'm a furry but no-one seems to want to talk to me about my fursona and I'm feeling a bit left out, I'm hoping to go to confuzzled, another fur said I could go with him but we really haven't confirmed anything because neither of us has transportation and both live with our parents, I'm 26 he's 21.
I don't feel I'll ever have the warm fuzzy feeling that being a furry is, I have no confidence in myself as a fur and I'm just thinking about leaving and never coming back, I'm hoping this is all a huge mistake and it’s just stress, I don't take medication because I can't swallow tablets and liquid meds are just as bad. I was diagnosed with autism and I can't socialise with people but when as a furry I know I'll settle in.
I want to feel more accepted in the group, what do I do?
Xoda Fox (age 26, UK)
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It’s not easy feeling like one belongs to any group, including furries. It is doubly difficult when one suffers from autism, making it more challenging to deal with social situations.
I can understand, too, why you would think the furry fandom would be a safe haven for you where you could find acceptance. I thought so once myself. The truth is that the fandom is just like any other group of people, and it is just as difficult (or easy) to find friends and camaraderie within it as any other social group.
Being a furry doesn’t erase your problems with social anxiety any more than belonging to any other kind of group. Therefore, leaving the fandom will not solve your problem any more than joining the fandom did.
What, then, is the answer? The answer is that you have to look within yourself first. You have to deal with your autism. You have to deal with your sense of self-worth. You have to evaluate why you became a furry in the first place. If you are a furry because you love anthros, then no social problems should interfere with that; if you became a furry thinking it would solve your social isolation and to get attention, then that is the wrong reason to be a furry.
Although you say you cannot manage medication for your autism, there are other things you can do to help you relax and try to control your anxiety. That would be the first thing I’d recommend you learn to do. This page from the UK’s National Autistic Society can give you some leads on what to do. I highly recommend you seek out ways to manage your autism.
Do not expect the furry fandom to help you cope with your autism or social isolation. While many people are furries because they enjoy the social aspect of it, the fandom is not a treatment program for autism. Please recognize that.
Even though that is true, it is no reason to hang up your fursona and walk away. Go into the fandom without expectations of it, and you will be much more pleased. Do not expect or demand that people talk about your fursuit or your fursona. They are going to furmeets or furcons to have a good time, and that is all.
Instead, simply share with them the fun things about being a furry. Find some common interests (e.g. maybe you read the same comic books or TV shows) and then talk to them about those and not about yourself. When you share common interests and bond on those things rather than yourself, the focus is taken off you and moves to those other things. This will make you feel less self-conscious and, hopefully, more comfortable with others who like to talk about furry things.
He Objects to Being Called "Cute"
Hi Papabear, it’s Wolfthorne again.
I've been on a long arduous journey of accepting myself as gay, and while it has been a very weird if not interesting experience. Happiness is the most important thing for me, and I am in charge of my own happiness.
There is this one certain societal norm I have been trying to get over, though. And it involves terms of endearment, in this case, trying to understand the whole difference between cute and handsome.
When I was a child, my parents always called me handsome, and I suppose they called me cute at one point when I was a child. Nowadays, I've always seen myself as handsome. And usually I learned to associate cute with someone a person of the opposite sex would call me, not of the same sex.
I guess what I'm trying to tell you is that, whenever a man calls me cute—I can't explain it and I don't know why—but I get easily turned off by that word because: A) I'm afraid they're saying it because they're hitting on me and I usually respond with, "I prefer the term handsome, but thank you" just so I can turn them off back, and B) when a man calls me cute, it’s almost as if (pardon my French) they see me as their bitch or something.
What's even more confusing is that gay men USUALLY use the term for handsome in its general definition "a good looking person" (usually of a man). I, however, quote from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary which is not altogether inappropriate: "pleasing to look at; especially of a person: having a pleasing appearance that causes romantic or sexual feelings in someone."
And the definition USUALLY is associated for men. And if a man or woman were to call me that I'd have no problem. Cute, on the other hand: "attractive or pretty especially in a childish, youthful, or delicate way."
Makes me feel as if I'm almost not manly at all. Like I'm weak, or something easily tossed aside like a piece of trash, neither of which are true and I know this because I'm not a child, and I'm not delicate.
I look at myself, and I don't know if people mean handsome as a term for men who are burly or someone genuinely looks hot or if my parents called me handsome in a sense just to make me feel good about myself, or if they GENUINELY meant that, but I can't understand why I get turned off by it.
Is there any way that I can learn to not get turned off by the term "cute"? And what should I do if someone calls me that?
Wolfthorne (age 23)
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I have never seen a photo of you, so can’t judge whether you are “cute” or “handsome,” but either way these comments by others are meant as compliments, not in any way to denigrate you. Something you need to understand, Wolfthorne, is when you are among gay men, you are more likely to be complimented in terms that many would find more feminine. You can run into very butch-looking men, for example, who will call each other “girlfriend” or “sister.” Jim tried that on me a couple times and I told him to stop it because I don’t like being referred to in womanly terms. I’m a man, not a woman. So, I can understand you might object to being called “cute.” You’re a man, not a baby panda.
Because you are only 23, you might be subjected to the cute word more often. Yes, it is often applied to those with a more youthful appearance. But you don’t always have to be “delicate” or childish to be called cute. I think you’re reading too much into it. The times I have called someone cute, it was never to suggest someone was “a piece of trash.” If I wanted to do that, I would call them a slut or a skank LOL. In short, don’t be insulted, because I’m sure that those who call you cute mean it in a good way.
Now, if this happens again, don’t get mad, but you certainly can say something along these lines: “Thanks for the compliment, but I really don’t see myself as cute so much as devastatingly handsome.” And chuckle a bit and smile to show you are not offended and you’re just being facetious. Then, if you feel they merit it, give the other person a compliment back. If the only thing that is turning you off of a guy is that they used the word cute, you can easily get around that and begin striking up a conversation, maybe even get into some flirting that will turn you back on again. It would be a shame if you turned someone away just because of one poorly chosen word, would you not agree?
I've always struggled with my identity as I am an African American teenager who has grown up in a military family. I've have always been struggling with my identity because I am black but I tend to have a more (what people call) a “white” personality. This isn't the only problem. My family and people I know say I have an “intimidating look.” I am 5’11”, and guess I could call myself pretty athletic. And added to all this I am black so nobody expects me to be into something like the furry fandom.
When I was 10 years (around 2009) I moved too Japan. Around that time, I discovered I liked looking at and drawing anthropomorphic animals. I never knew of the furry fandom at that time so it was just a little thing to me. It was like that for the next 3 years until we moved back to America. This pretty much ruined my social life as I had already established my life in Japan.
We moved from Baltimore, to Rhode Island, then recently too California, all within 3 years due to my father being active military. I discovered the fandom when I first moved to Maryland. I slowly got into it and was started drawing and admiring artists through YouTube, DeviantArt, etc. But the thing is during this time between being in Baltimore and Rhode Island, my outside personality completely changed to conform with the people I hung around in school. And the people I hung around with was (yup, you guessed it!) the typical ghetto, suburban, rude teenagers. It was a struggle for me as I wanted to tell people about me being furry and share my art and make friends who liked furry art. I was actually lighthearted, nice person on the inside but yet I had this forced, rude outside personality that kept all that hidden.
I recently moved to California as I said earlier and I decided to make this a fresh start, yet I still have this conflict inside and outside of me. Do you have any suggestions on how to make friends that have the same interest as me even though my conflicting personality and outside appearance gets in the way?
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It is indeed very difficult being the son of someone in the military who moves around a lot. Children are happier if they grow up with a sense of stability and home, which is hard to do when the average military family moves every three years (I’m just writing this for the benefit of my readers). One thing I would say about your particular experience is that you probably gained a lot of insight and knowledge about other cultures by living in Japan. That’s something that could benefit you and your view of the world.
As for looking muscular and athletic—yes, I understand how people get intimidated by that, sadly. People judge too much by appearance, whether it is someone who is attractive (he’s attractive, so he must be a pleasant person) or ugly (he’s ugly, so she’s a bad person) or whatever. People see your muscles and that you’re black and think you’re a thug or some such. So sad. Obviously, you’re a sweetheart inside.
Now the trick is this: having the courage to show others who you truly are. You’ve conformed to the “ghetto” set because you wanted to be accepted and fit in (very human desire), and you are probably afraid to show your furry side because you could be rejected by your peers at school. For starters, since you are likely to move again and again, I would not be overly concerned about peers at school, unless some of them become actual friends and not just people you are trying to get to like you. Second, I would start slowly by first trying to make friends online. Fortunately, there are many places you can do this, and if you like I will send you some suggestions if you haven’t already located some good furry social groups. You could start with SoCal Furries (http://www.socalfurs.com/), since you’re in Oxnard, and, if you ever get the chance, try to go to the Prancing Skiltaire monthly furmeet that is held in Glendale (http://prancing.skiltaire.net/). Start talking to furries online, start posting your furry art, talk to fellow artists. When you locate some who start to click with you, then you might start to show them both your outside and inside through photos, cam chat, and the like.
You have to let your guard down. This is scary, I know. Very scary, but it’s clear you are not happy living a charade. You want to be who you really are, right? A nice guy who is into furry, likes to draw, likes to be physically fit, and happens to be black. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of that. And, you know what? You’ve discovered a community—furries—who are more accepting of differences than many other social groups. Here’s a cool article about how more and more African Americans are getting involved in the fandom (Anthrocon is an example): http://newpittsburghcourieronline.com/2013/07/10/more-african-americans-get-involved-in-anthrocon-every-year/.
Another thing that benefits you: many furries absolutely adore Japanese culture (especially anime, of course, and Japanese cartoons have had a very strong influence on the fandom--Kimba, the White Lion being of particular note), and you’ve experienced it first-paw! You can certainly find furries who share this interest with you, both in America and back in Japan.
Maximus, you don’t seem to know it, but you have stumbled into a community that might just be the ticket for your releasing the inner you: furries. I encourage you to get involved with them. I’m sure you’ll find some cool fuzzy friends.
Hope that helps.
Hello Papa Bear,
I am a fan that wrote to you a while back and it seems like I need help again...
Lately I've noticed a pretty toxic looking pattern in my behaviour. I'm not sure why but small things I don't understand tend to set me off and I need to rant to not be overwhelmed. On top of that I think I subconsciously seek conflict even though I hate it. I've never thought it was a huge problem because I could control it, until recently.
As you might or might not know, Daniel from the YouTube group Cyndago recently passed away due to suicide. I looked up information because I had been out of the loop, and found Cyndago has quit YouTube which confused me and kind of angered me because I saw no logic in the decision. I decided to post my opinion that they had no reason to quit on a website to hopefully get some clarification as to the reasoning behind it.
That ended up being a huge mistake.
Almost immediately I got a ton of backlash from fans for apparently being insensitive to death and mourning and one person called me (warning for harsh language) "either a [redacted] angsty teenager or disrespectful trash of a [redacted] human being" before telling me pretty angrily to "have some [redacted] human decency."
What made it worse was that an account that was allegedly Ryan's (another Cyndago member) found my post and responded saying I thought it was all about me, which I never said but I still feel awful about that. I have Asperger’s which makes me have trouble empathizing and seeing social cues sometimes, so needless to say I was very upset and did not understand what I said wrong. It's just an opinion, right? I never said they had to stay, just that I didn’t think they should quit. (Though my post was poorly worded and sounded mad because I was tired.)
I have already issued an apology and explanation, though it seems people either ignored it, didn't see it, or hated me more for trying to apologize because I've gotten some more hate since. I feel like I've irreparably screwed up and would like some advice to keep this from happening again because I kind of hate myself now.
Apparently A Bad Person
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You are not a bad person. For one thing, your Asperger’s could very likely have made it difficult for you to write a post that evoked the amount of sympathy that many people might expect. For another, who hasn’t written an email or post while angry or sad or under duress and then hit “send” or “post” before they should have? I know I’ve done this a couple times.
We all make fools of ourselves now and then. And you took the right steps to apologize for it, and if not everyone accepts that apology, then they just need to get over it.
In the future, my advice would be that whenever you feel like posting something that has a strong opinion in it, you first write it, then set it aside for a while (save it in Word or save the message as a draft). Go back to it a few hours (or even a day or two) later and reread it. Now that you have calmed down or thought about it, ask yourself, “Is this what I would write now? Is it well-reasoned? Is it polite?” If it is, go ahead and send it; if not, either rewrite it or don’t send it at all.
Don’t hate yourself. We all goof up sometimes. Learn from the goofs and move on.
Third time! This time though, it's not as personal but a lot more complicated.
So I'm a big part of the Transformation/TF part of the fandom, a largely fetishized group with some very unique art. While I have yet to contribute, I have hit a small snag that bugs me.
I knew this artist, we'll call them Carlos, who was a moderately decent artist with some glaring flaws and almost no following. He came across very abrasive and rash, which may have pushed people away. I got to know him and he was the same with me but seemed like a good guy. But then he dropped a major bomb.
There's another artist in the TF world, let's say she's...Joan. So I met Joan first and she is CRAZY popular, bursting onto the scene of TF by saying she needed money for a pet's surgery. Her fame skyrocketed with her clean art and tfs, albeit more on dA than FA. And it was through her, or him, that they revealed themselves to be the same person.
So this mediocre male artist created an account to be a female artist with sympathy fans, and the same kinda mediocre anatomically incorrect art, but had done so in such a way to build up a massive following. Through this lie they amassed tons of fans and money, and nobody knows about this other than me.
This female persona had a very specific niche for tf, let's say she only did Foxes. And she was very strict about doing anything not fox related, and having a list of fox species for people to pay and pick for their tf. But then for some reason, perhaps nobody else wanted foxes, she bails on this and accepts all animals out of the blue. For no reason other than more money.
Then his normal male account posts a journal about getting tired of doing tf and I respond, saying that they might lose some fans if they drop tf altogether, but then they get all defensive at me, saying I'm the reason they quit skype, saying that dirty art is impure and filth among other things. The journal also insulted the furry community, calling it an emo ridden group of losers and just a horrible journal of horrible hate. It was so vile...he was dwelling on the clean days of tf but everything is dirty, nothing is ever 100% clean. It's not like it just started becoming naughty in the last 2 months.
Oddly, when we had chatted during skype and I expressed some disinterest in this person's affinity for chiptune and foxes, they freaked out at me. That may have been the downfall of our relationship.
Then, I blocked the male account because I was sick of being harassed by this liar and manipulator...but then I should check my messages a few hours later and find a note from the female account asking to talk things out. I ignored the note for a day cause I didn't wanna bother, but then when I decide maybe to give it a shot, guess what? She/He had blocked ME now!
Here's what she sent me:
“So lets talk like actual adults before anonymity on the internet. Clearly you're upset, clearly I misspoke, a lot of it lacks context, and I think that lead to a lot of wacky insults and mudslinging.
“So if you'd like to actually hear why I feel the way I do, with details, instead of assuming I'm a run of the mill miserite troll scapegoating a community that does not deserve it.
“And hey perhaps you could convince me otherwise but either way our last discussion was clearly some old salt in the wounds. Lets say we can heal like logical reasonable human beings?”
And so I can normally just block and remove a person from my life right? But this person works in the same vein of tf that I like and draw for, so every time I see their icon or name I just get knots in my stomach. I have a problem forgetting things and it's especially tough when I see their name everywhere.
My final question is this; How can I move on and not be so bitter? Sure we both said some things, but the hastiness of the blocking and the inability to accept each other's opinions, but was it just a doomed friendship? Or is it just a moral sensor going off in my brain whenever I see the people she's/he's duped on their account praising this liar? Should I expose them? Clearly they won't leave the tf community when they have so much money coming in from selling out their ideals by taking other species, so I'm at a real crossroads.
Thanks a lot Papa!
From your favorite Malayan Civet (since I'm the only one in the fandom lol),
Cassidy~! (age 17)
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The Internet is such fertile ground for drama, isn’t it? And the online furry community is certainly no exception. Whenever I get a letter such as yours, Papabear listens to his gut, which always tells me one of two things: either there is more going on here than meets the eye, or I’m hungry. If I’m hungry, I eat, and then get back to the problem, which is this....
Carlos/Joan (hereafter CJ) has some serious issues going on with him/her. These are emotional and possibly psychological problems that you likely know nothing about. You only know what CJ posts and chats with you about, and that’s it. When something upsets CJ s/he lashes out and acts somewhat irrationally. Joan seems to be the slightly more rational side, while Carlos the more fiery, defensive, and angry side. CJ may be bipolar or have cyclothymia or bipolar disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Sufferers of these illnesses go from depressed states to high states to various degrees and frequencies depending on the type of problem. Another possibility is some form of autism, such as Asperger’s, which can cause someone to overreact or react inappropriately in social situations (and become hypersensitive to any kind of criticism). This would explain the reactions to comments about his/her TF work and about the TF art community in general.
One of the more difficult interactions in any community is to express empathy and to show compassion and support to someone you just met online who appears to be a mean person. It’s hard because you can’t usually tell if they are that way because they are troubled or if they are just mean by nature. What Papabear usually tries to do (not always because some people are so unbalanced that I just hope they see a doctor, but I can’t afford the time to deal with their many problems), is first assume that someone is that way because they are unhappy. Then, instead of criticizing them, I ask them if they need a shoulder to lean on and a sympathetic ear. I certainly would not criticize something like their artistic skills and, instead, would encourage their desire to draw and express themselves (a very healthy activity). Even if they are poor artists now, with encouragement, they could improve. (If people criticized me harshly for my piano playing, I would be sad and would stop trying, but they are encouraging me and that is why I am slowly improving).
I wouldn’t bother to “out” CJ as being duplicitous (and you’re probably incorrect in assuming you’re the only one who knows s/he has two online profiles). It’s not illegal and it’s really none of your business (are you jealous that Joan has seen some success because she is really Carlos? Perhaps Carlos is actually Joan? Who knows? Who cares?) Many artists get commissions, I’ve noticed, especially among furries, by pleading they need help financially for something. It’s a way of supporting people. Perhaps it’s a bit disingenuous, but it’s called feeling some sympathy toward others. I always look at it as a “there but for the Grace of God go I” phenomenon. What if I were not so lucky as to have a job and a home and a family? Wouldn’t I cry out for help, too? I would. I’d be asking you to buy my books, even if the books didn’t interest you or you thought they stank up the place.
I believe what you are experiencing with CJ is the cacophony of a cry for help. It can hurt the ears, indeed, but one way to alleviate it may be to give them a big hug, some tea and sympathy.
Hope that helps,
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.