[Note to readers: Robert Hill (http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Robert_Hill and http://www.furaffinity.net/user/vawlkee/ ) is a furry (Vawlkee) I first met a few years ago. He is a talented artist and one of the original fursuit makers. He has worked as a costumed character and stage manager for Disney.]
This should be interesting, as I'm old enough (likely) to be your old man...
How is it that furry has become the private domain for the mainly under 30 crowd? As you know I was literally on the ground floor of what was to ultimately become "furry," and I can name names and time periods.
I've been the victim of snobbery, rudeness, and just plain ignorance - all because of my age! Epithets like "grey muzzle," etc. are offensive to me. These "people" acknowledge your age but don't give a damn who you are and what you've done.
The virtual disdain of the "furry" community to so much as chat with someone like me is offensive to the extreme. They add me to instant messaging and then when I want to chat, they plead that they "just aren't good" at communicating.
I'm almost ashamed to even admit that I'm a "furry." It's all about kids and their paw-off art and animal costumes. I don't say "fursuits" - why should I? I made my first animal costume 25 years ago, before 90% of "furry" fandom was even born! Does anyone even know - much less even care? - Hell no! (I know you do - but that's another story.)
It's like a fucking wolf pack with three options: "Lead, follow, or get out of the fucking way!" I've pretty much chosen the latter.
I don't know if this is a question or simply the rant of a guy that's just plain in the wrong place at the wrong time!
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As you know (and the following is more or less to benefit my younger readers), the furry fandom has really only been around since the 1980s (yes, there was some stuff leading up to that point, but I feel the beginning was in the '80s). To you and me, that doesn’t seem very long, but we now have a whole new crop of furries who were not even born at that time, as you note. Therefore, they know very little about you, and the MTV special and other films you appeared in, or the fursuits and art you created. Also, you have not been very involved in the community for many years, although your art is still online.
But the 1980s were a time when the Internet was still ARPANET and social networking wasn’t even a glimmer in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. Hell, Zuckerberg (b. 1984, cubbies!) wasn’t even a glimmer in his parents’ eyes yet. The world has changed considerably, and so has the furry fandom. In its early days, furry was just a celebration of anthros. Now it is much much MUCH more. It has become a lifestyle for many people, something that really got out of hand with that entire Burned Furs nonsense. It has embraced all kinds of philosophies and beliefs, behaviors, and ways of acting. To those who object and have hissy fits about the things that have become associated with furry (from therians and otherkin to plushophiles and babyfurs), Papabear has three little words:
Get over yourselves.
Furry is supposed to be one thing: FUN! Fun through the combination—in myriad forms—of animal and human characters. Why are people fighting about something that, let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things really doesn’t matter? Do people who “take their art seriously” and get reverential over Brian Jacques’ “Redwall” series get hurt if there is a furry somewhere off in a corner masturbating to a naked picture of Mattimeo? No. With all the hunger, crime, war, and environmental destruction in this world, you all have other things in your lives that you should get riled up about instead. Ranting about what words people use to describe one furry or another is about as important as what brand of tampon Paris Hilton shoves up between her legs.
Why, Robert, do you object to being called a “greymuzzle”? I, personally, take it as a badge of honor. I’m an older furry and younger furries look to me for guidance and when they call me a greymuzzle or, even better, a papabear, I am thrilled and honored. You don't get old by being a fool. Age is not a sin, nor is youth a virtue.
I don’t believe that the under-30 crowd have made the fandom their “private domain.” (Although there are some rather obnoxious people who think their scat smells like fresh cinnamon rolls, but that is true in every social group of humans I have ever seen). There is an active and growing older community of furries who form their own groups, such as the greymuzzle--pardon me, "chronologically advanced"--group I founded on FurAffinity.
Yes, there are a lot of young furries. Know why? Because the fandom is growing by leaps and bounds and because the fun of it all appeals to those with young hearts. This mostly means younger people, though I do know of some furries who came to the fandom later in life because they have youthful spirits, too. The terminology they have created (fursuits, murr, greymuzzles, noms, pawsome, etc. etc.) is just part of the charm. You don't have to say "fursuit," but it wouldn't kill you to do so.
As for older furries, there aren't as many because a lot of people who join the fandom when they are younger decide that it is "for kids" when they "grow up." I think that's sad, but that's how it often works. More power to greymuzzles, who, in this bear's opinion, are the hardcore furries through thick and thin to the end!
The youthfulness and energy of the fandom is one of its appeals, and a very good thing in Papabear’s book. Does it make me feel old when I mention Gilda Radner and a furry friend doesn’t know who I’m talking about? Sure, but then I tell them who Gilda was and voilá! They have something new in their lives they didn’t know about that makes them laugh and brings them joy.
Now, about chat and this furry “disdain” you are experiencing. It is actually true that many young furries are shy and have a hard time communicating. But you may find a little kindness and patience goes a long way. It might also be, dear Robert—and please don’t take offense—that your abruptness and cynicism turns them off and chases them away (and calling them "people" in quotation marks is a little offensive to them, don't you think?)
Here is my advice to you. Happiness with one’s life does not come from the plaudits of others but from the satisfaction of doing good for others. It is giving, not receiving, that makes a person happy. And you are not happy about the furry fandom because you wish that it would give you something that it hasn’t: more recognition. You will be much happier if you give back to the fandom, without expecting anything in return, because you are doing so out of the kindness of your own heart, out of love for others.
This is a lesson I myself learned. Papabear has had some doors slammed in his face, too. I am no stranger to rude furries, and I used to let this get to me. I don’t anymore. What I did was I went out and got me a good attitude about furries, set out to help younger furs in the fandom, extended a big paw of friendship ... and found that paws, hooves, claws, and wings, and maybe even a few fins and tickly insect feet grasped my paw in return. I have more furry friends than non-furry friends, and I am glad. And it is all due to attitude, Robert.
There are many kind and sweet and loving people out there just waiting for you. Don't conclude that "all furries" are young, rude snobs who can't communicate. That is not the case at all. Certainly not in my own experience.
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.