Sorry for bothering you multiple times over the past year, but I've found your advice to be some of the most helpful stuff in the fandom (yeah, we'll get to that in a minute).
Let me jump right in on this one. I have a friend who I know outside of furry-related stuff. We first connected about 4 or 5 years ago, through some local email group that was (and still is, to a degree) relevant to us in terms of location and education.
This friend of mine is really sheltered. And when I say really sheltered, I mean REALLY sheltered. This has never been a problem for me. If his parents want to make him so sheltered that he doesn't know what's really socially acceptable, that's up to them (mind you, that has little to no relevance to my question, but it is still true).
My problem arose when I added him as a friend on Facebook a few months ago. He's still as innocent as before, but he's started taking a liking to a particular art form that we furs seem to be commonly associated with. If you thought I meant porn ... well, I have nothing to say about that. No, I mean anthropomorphic art. He seems into the art of anthropomorphic animals.
No problem, right? Well, this is where I messed up. Before I really caught onto that he's into anthro stuff, I posted a few pictures on Facebook of anthro stuff by furry artists. Nothing inappropriate, mind you, just general furry art.
He ended up asking about it, and I couldn't just ignore him, so I sent him a link to a particular Orlando Fox's (who did the art I posted on Facebook, making sure I technically owned the rights to distribute the art in question) Twitter page. Fortunately, that seemed to not cause any problems at all.
What I'm worrying about is that he seems to be inching closer and closer to the fandom. When I tweeted about this, I was met with "bring him in" tweets. But that's the problem. Remember how I mentioned he's super sheltered? Well, that means that if he were to accidentally stumble across just one piece of mature furry art, or if he were to look at what anti-furs say about furries, he'd probably be either very confused, or he'd be running. Either way, I'm sure his parents will find out about it. That's what I'm afraid of.
Don't get me wrong, his parents are very nice and very responsible people, as well as fantastic parents, but I'm sure if they found out that there is that stuff in the fandom, and that I am linked to the fandom, that would be more than just the end of my relationship with that family (we've already discussed this topic when I emailed you about my father and his reaction to me joining the fandom).
So my question boils down to this: should I take measures to make sure he stays away from the fandom, or should I take measures to give him a very slow introduction to the fandom, while trying to keep that art away?
I realize this letter is incredibly long-winded, and I do apologize for that, but I had to clear up details before I asked the actual question, otherwise the answer would be a lot simpler.
Sil (age 15)
* * *
Welcome Back, Sil,
Glad I could help you in the past; now let’s look at this current predicament. What I noticed right away was a bit of a contradiction regarding the parents: you say they are “fantastic parents” but fantastic parents wouldn’t shelter their child so much that he would be afraid of the outside world and not know how to deal with social situations. Only thing I can figure out is that you are leaving out an important detail, such as he is emotionally or mentally handicapped (it could also be physical, but instinct tells me it’s one of the other two). If that is indeed the case, then it would be very wrong of you to deliberately expose him to things that could frighten or traumatize him in some way. Even though you say this has “no relevance to my question,” it really does—very much so! If you are dealing with a—I assume—teenager entering puberty at the same time he is dealing with a mental or emotional disorder, then you really need to be careful!
We can easily assume that if this friend of yours starts looking at furry sites on a regular basis, he is going to quickly stumble upon adult imagery, much of it having to do with fetishes he won’t be able to begin to comprehend. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” (The tone of your letter also hints at you perhaps feeling guilty, thinking you're the one who introduced him to furry art in the first place, yes?)
If I am right about your friend, and if you are correct that he has very good parents, then the people to talk to first about the fandom are his parents not your friend. It would be unfair to both him and his parents to have him discover something disturbing, becoming traumatized in some way, all without his parents knowing what’s going on with their own child or how to help him.
On the other paw, let’s say that your pal is a perfectly normal person in every way except that his parents have sheltered him too much. This is not a good thing for the kid, not at all. In this case, I would give him a slow, measured, guided tour of the fandom, trying in every way to introduce him to things slowly and with an explanation at each and every step. This means a lot of work on your part, if you are willing to do that and be a good friend. That’s sort of your second option that you posed, giving him the slow introduction, but it would be futile to think that you could keep his eyes from adult art forever, so prepare him for that as best you can. Inform him he is going to probably stumble on some sexual things and try to explain what and why those are on the Web.
Again, if I am right about the first option, I would go to the parents first. A good way to do this, since your father is cool with the fandom now, is for both you and your father to discuss it with them. The fewer surprises the better!
4/30/2014 01:48:36 pm
I also think the "in what way is he sheltered?" is a good thing to elaborate on. If he's emotionally and mentally fine, then what kind of restrictions are his parents putting on him? Does he have parental restrictions on the internet, or is it open? How old is he (I'm assuming he's a teenager)? Do his parents monitor everything he looks at? Is he in any other fandoms?
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