I'm wondering what, in your opinion, is in store for the future of furries as it is going right now. Will there be less hate and more members or the other way around? Parts of the world seem to be going in a direction that may benefit us and others not so much.
* * *
An interesting question. I don’t think anyfur really knows, but I can offer my speculations about the future of the fandom based on what has been happening over the last years.
To gain perspective on where we are going, it might be good to understand first where we have been. I’ve always felt this was a pretty good summary of furry history: http://www.furrydolphin.net/2009_files/furry-history.html.
As you can see from that article, derpiness and nasty arguments in the fandom are not something that is exactly new. Whenever you have more than one person involved in anything, you are going to have disagreements. In the fandom, it has been stuff like “Who is a real furry and who isn’t?” As you can see from the above, one of those issues was the whole furry “lifestyler” issue. Today, it is things like “Are Bronies furries?” and the stupid “popufur” nonsense. Such arguments will always be with us, and likely will increase as the fandom grows.
That growth in participation is definitely having an effect on the fandom. According to one graph I saw posted on the Furry Fandom Infocenter at http://www.furryfandom.info/conventions.htm attendance at furcons has grown from about 5,000 a year in 1990 to about 25,000 in 2011. This is not only because attendance at existing cons is rising, but also because new cons are opening their doors every year. Some of the more recent ones include The Biggest Little Furcon (Reno), Arizona Furcon (Scottsdale), Indyfurcon, Fur the ‘More (Baltimore), and Unthrocon (Salt Lake City).
As the fandom has grown exponentially, so has its diversity. There are more older “greymuzzles” than ever before, both because older people are starting to join in on the fun and because young furs are staying in the fandom long enough to be categorized as greymuzzles. I feel that’s a good thing because it should lend some maturity and experience to the furry gene pool. I think we are also seeing more women join in, and we will see more furries in Europe, Japan, Central and South America, and other parts of the world. Again, the more furries there are, the stronger we can be, but also we will need to be careful about the inevitable increase in arguments between different parts of the fandom, as well as between furries and mundanes.
From what I’ve seen in the last 10 years or so, I think that the media is getting a bit better in portraying furries fairly. Also, some furries have been grabbing cameras and shooting documentaries and other informational videos. However, there is still a huge stigma out there. I see it all the time with furries writing to me saying their parents won’t let them be furry because they think we’re all furverts.
What is needed now—and I know I’ve mentioned this before in my column—is a way to communicate better, both between furries in the fandom and between furries and the outside world. This is a big reason for the creation of the American Furry Association (www.americanfurryassociation.org). Right now, there is a TON of furry stuff on the Web and elsewhere. Sometimes it is hard to find and people are not aware of the many resources at their disposal, so the AFA will help organize that information and get it out to people, furries and mundanes alike. The more we talk and communicate, the better informed we will be and the better able to dispel misinformation and mitigate unnecessary conflicts.
No one can accurately predict where the fandom is going, other than to say it looks like we will continue to grow for some time to come. Hopefully, we can do this without too many growing pains. Hopefully, too, stereotypes and false information about the fandom will decrease as we become harder and harder for mundanes to avoid and deny simply because we will be everywhere :-)
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.