The Dramagogues – Episode 1 – Strife

I’ve been tiptoeing around this subject for a while now. It’s one of those topics that is both a pretty big deal and should be talked about, as well as one that is pretty divisive and some people could be tetchy about. My big worry in bringing it up I not that I’ll open a discussion on the topic, because that’s what I want to do. Rather, I worry that any discussion that does happen would be more inflammatory than anything. It’s one of those topics that a lot of people seem to agree on, but not agree on why, and it’s difficult to describe in words in any event. So I’m going to do the band-aid thing here and just say it all at once: either furries are more dramatic people than other groups, or they think they are, and either concept is fraught with implications and certainly worth exploring, given how much time and energy the fandom seems to put into its drama.

There is no metric of drama. It’s a hard thing to gauge and an even harder thing to gauge objectively. To say that furry is more dramatic than other groups, or more dramatic than life in general or simply the non-furry portion is a hard statement to back up. Is the drama more intense or less? Does it happen more frequently or less frequently? Is it more or less legitimate? Or important? Rooted in reality? That there are even so many questions in the second paragraph of a write-up on the subject bodes ill for saying, definitively, whether or not furry is more dramatic. Instead of trying to determine one way or another on the issue, I think it would be best to explore why this either may be the case or at least why many of us believe it is. I asked this as a quick poll on twitter a while back, so I’m going to structure the first two parts of this article around the responses I received to the two parts of the question that I posted, starting with one of my own views, while the third portion will be more about the duration of dramatic events in the fandom, with potential future exploration down the line.

Let me begin with some of the thoughts that have been going through my own mind as I work through these articles. I think that one of the biggest issues I’ve seen behind the drama, at least that which I’ve been party to or part of, is that furry is larger and more diverse than we expect it to be. We, as a community, share a strong common bond in our shared interests. We have our unique ways of interacting with each other, our unique modes of expression, and our unique concept of character. We have gotten so good at dealing with what we have and how that works within our subculture, that I think we believe our group is more self-similar than it really is. With our strong connection, it’s easy for us to expect that those around us will share more than just our interests and some of our mannerisms, that they will also share our opinions and our eccentricities.

Part of why I started to see this was due to the fact tht many conciliatory efforts that I saw being made publicly were posited as diplomatic ways of informing one on how to interact with others. However, many of these efforts come off more as ways to successfully interact with whichever party posited them. That is, the one who attempted to solve the problem did so by assuming the embroiled parties (even if they were one themselves) saw things the same way that they did. While it may seem like we’re a collection of mostly canids and there is a lot of self-similarity in character creation and our shared interests, we’re just not that much alike.

In other instances, however, it appears that furry is smaller than we want to think. We want the fandom to be large enough to accommodate every aspect of ourselves, and we want that to include a group of friends who share the same experiences. Furry just isn’t big enough for that, though. There are going to be clashes here and there in everything from names to interests. I ran into the name problem, myself, years go. When I started into the fandom, I went by Ranna, which was a name I had stolen from a book (and that’s why I rarely go by that name anymore). Of course, the minute I tried to sign up for SPR using that name, I was rejected due to there already being one there.  Same for Tapestries – a different Ranna, in fact.

In the long run, I really shouldn’t have been surprised that I ran into other “Ranna”s out there. We all wanted to be sure in our own little parts of the fandom, though, and so actually running into someone with the same name was a bit of a shock. The fandom just wasn’t big enough to hold that, though, and so we run into all these instances of people knowing friends we thought they would never know, and we find out that those friends maybe know much mores about us and our relationships than we had previously thought – this was something that happened to be twice within the past few weeks, actually: a friend I had known for a while under a different name didn’t know that I wrote for [adjective][species].

The drama, here, comes perhaps from the fact that it’s easier to speak about other groups of friends within our groups of friends. It’s easy for me to talk about drama at work when I get home and, with a filter in place of course, vice versa. Similarly, it’s easy for me to ramble on about some of the goings on in my offline life to my online friends, but things get difficult when it turns out that someone I talk to online knows more about the relationships than I had thought. This is another downside of our heavy interaction on the Internet: it’s so easy to say something to one group of friends and a different, perhaps contradictory thing to another group that could spark some strife when the information is shared between the groups.  Enough from me, though, on to what others have to say.

Minority identity acts as a force multiplier on social dynamics. In-feuds carry the implicit baggage of membership.

– krtbuni

Although is is a tough statement to unpack, I feel that it captures a lot of what may actually be going on within the fandom. By belonging to a discrete segment of society, we are all members of a “minority group”. Members is too gentle of a word, even; this is something that we feel is part of ourselves. For many of us, furry is part of our identity. The downside of that, is that every interaction within or about that social context of which we are a part is also about part of ourselves. That’s the force multiplier: that there is some drama that may not even be connected to us makes little different when our membership carries this implicit baggage with it.

Every interaction that happens within some circle that’s important to us becomes a part of us in a way. If you are Jewish (disclaimer: I am not), antisemitism can have a very real effect on your life, whether or not you experience directly; if you are an African-American (disclaimer: I’m 1/16th black, but that means very little), the racism that our country still struggles to overcome may impact you in a very real way, even if it may not seem like it from it outside. Accordingly, if a tv show misrepresents the fandom of which you are a member, it is very easy to feel personally misrepresented, or if there is a fight between two furs in which you agree with one side, it’s easy to feel as if it is your fight as well. This would explain the way in which what seems like a relatively small bit of drama snowballs out of proportion once others know about it.

Any community whose central theme revolves around crafted image has inflated drama. see: art, acting, politics, high school etc.

– _am3thyst

This is similar to the above quote in that it has to do with the fact that we are members of a community, and that fact is what makes us a little more dramatic. However, this touches on some of what I’ve mentioned before here on the blog. Specifically, our whole subculture is based on the fact that we interact not with our selves, but with constructed personas that are intentionally misrepresentative – granted, in the relatively innocuous way of being a different species, or perhaps a different gender. The downside of this, of course, is that we are not our characters.

We have the same amount as other fandoms. Ours are just in the forefront unfortunately.

– Adonai_Rifki

You know, it may just be due to the online nature of many of our interactions that the perceived level of drama is so high within the fandom. Having spent a good portion of my childhood years with a step-brother and two step-sisters taught me that there is, indeed, plenty of drama in the real world. I used to keep a toy on the frame of my step-brother’s and my bunk bed that I would move from one end of the bed to the other as he annoyed me to sleep – my own version of “I’m going to count to three…” – which of course just caused him to act out all the more and led to fights. I was a real brat, growing up…

So really, being around drama wasn’t something that’s unique or new when I joined the fandom, I had been around it all the while growing up. The thing that changed instead, was the visibility of the drama, as everything was now written down and immortalized somewhere. Even if you’re hanging out in a MUCK or IRC server, the text will still linger there on the screen until its pushed off the top, and even then, it resides in scrollbacks and countless logs. I found a log from years and years ago chock full of drama the other day and sent it to an acquaintance who had been involved, and everything was still fresh to the both of us. The text had endured and, along with it, the drama behind it. That is the same drama we complain about on twitter and FA: every time something happens and hundreds of people make journals about it, the drama explodes and becomes all the more visible, and often winds up outlasting even the original problem itself by quite a wide margin – “Krystal can’t enjoy her sandwich”, anyone?


In the next episode of The Dramagogues, we’ll be looking into potential reasons why the fandom might either be more dramatic or think it’s more dramatic than the world around it.

About Makyo

Makyo spends her time as a frumpy arctic fox, usually, but she’s all over the map. She’s been around furry since about 2000 under a variety of names. She writes, programs, and screws around with music.

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8 thoughts on “The Dramagogues – Episode 1 – Strife

  1. I can certainly connect with the notion that each and every furry out there would want to establish themselves as unique individuals, starting with their names. When I first came up with the name Kurowolfe, I did a vanity search online to look whether there are other ‘Kurowolfes’ out there and found out that thought they exist, their names have a different spelling, without the ‘e’. I somehow felt relieved by this discovery, though deep down inside, I know that in this relatively large though still small community, there is a ‘Kurowolfe’ out there, with the ‘e’ attached.

    However, my real life experience had taught me to be more open to this phenomenon of name similarities: my real name, although considered quite common in the country where I live, has a very unique spelling that sets me as different. I cherished in this sense of individuality, until I found a petrol station attendant with the same name spelling as me, crushing my self-identity to pieces. I learned to accept the fact that with 7 billion people currently living in this world (and many more who have perished), the eventuality of someone having the exact name as I do is bound to happen sooner or later. Since then, I’ve found two other individuals having the same name as me; one is a downstream operator of a fertilizer plant, the other a cameraman for the prime time news.

    About the whole drama thing, I concur with what krtbuni and Adonai_Rifki said. While I do agree that the furry fandom does have a rather dramatic way of trying to express themselves and their ideals, especially in terms of using a ideally constructed fursona that may or may not show our true nature and may also be too exaggerated, this behaviour is not unique and is present in all the communities and groups that had ever come into existence in this world. Also, being a minority group certainly imbues us with a stronger sense of belonging and loyalty in which I think defines the furry fandom as a whole, especially since it has been subject to negative controversies and public image by the mass media, even if we are not personally accused with these claims. It’s just like the supporters of sports teams: even when they are not the ones actually down there on the field trying to win a match, they still share the feeling of joy when the team wins, and abjection when the team loses. In fact, this behaviour is even considered healthy and beneficial for one’s psychological well-being, according to this study I read a few years ago, but only if done in moderation, and not crossing over to fanatical side. Being a furry and having friends around the world certainly helped me out of my major depression and suicidal streak, though I still consider myself not mentally sound now.

    That’s my two cents, and boy, I couldn’t remember the last time I wrote something this long =w=

    1. Kuro,

      Apologies for not responding sooner; the preparations for conducting the survey at the con kind of stole me away. I think you make some really good points about identity. Primarily, that one’s name is essentially a portion of one’s identity, as is our membership within this community. Perhaps that’s a better way to state the root cause of so much of our dramatic interaction: every negative interaction with something that we consider part of our identity (a sports team losing, a member of a website being banned, someone having taken our name of choice on some service) is a negative interaction with us via our identity. That would be the curse of the membership with furry, I suppose. However, as you say, there is certainly plenty of good that comes with this extension of identity even if it leads to all this drama, and I can certainly attribute my own rise out of depression to good times with the fandom.

  2. . >>We, as a community, share a strong common bond in our shared interests.<>There is no metric of drama.<<

    Oh yes there is. The overuse of a worn out, non-specific "buzzword", rather than being (at times painfully) specific about the subject of maturity, relationships, and personal growth, as well as communal interactions. The very use of the word in this context almost drives me to vomit. I am a writer. Drama is an art form, both written, and performed. I resent the "hijacking" of the word for this purpose, and its continued use as a "catch all" for people who would rather put a label on the result of a problem than they would deal with the root causes of the sundry problem.

    But that's "Furs" for you. The problem is always somewhere else, and the solution never begins with anyone, so there are no solutions within a Furry framework. This is the principal reason that the IS NO "Furry Community" nor is there ever likely to be. The vast majority of the individuals who constitute the large unwashed body of Furry fandom (which is roundly reviled by the remainder of even the fan dominated universe) cannot, will not, and will NEVER put aside anything that is associated with their own selfish self- fulfillment long enough for any sort of Community to coalesce around whatever microscopic kernel of commonality they might share. That, of course,supposes that they would be able to seek it out if they took their vision away from themselves long enough to look.
    But as long as nothing but the drives are catered to, self satisfaction (and lube) can be had in 55 gallon drums at any "Furry" Convention" why should they be bothered to look for anything at all beyond themselves?

    I have been a "Furry" (Not a "Fur" gawddammit!) for all but the first two decades of my life. I am now, and I shall be one until this life is done. I have long since walked away and given up on any aspect whatsoever of the fandom based nightmare that has utterly and completely overtaken and destroyed something utterly wonderful that has been at the core of my own life and hope since I became a part of it.
    So when I read something like this gut-churning lamentation about "Furry Drama", well, let me put it in the language most "Furs" will understand and will heed:

    Frankly, I don't give a fuck.

    Roci

    1. This is a difficult comment to respond to. While I agree with much of what you have to say, there are various things that I do disagree with that I’d like to point out, but it will be hard for me to do that without coming off as nitpicking.

      That said, I’d like to say that I agree with you on the fact that there is a lot more behind furry interaction besides just the fact that we all call ourselves furry. You and I both take this harsh interaction and say that there has to be more behind it than just harsh interaction – in your case, you say that it is largely due to the fact that furries think of themselves first and foremost and get to the others later, if at all, while I attribute it to the means of interaction – interacting on the Internet primarily means that our primary means of exchanging information is one that revolves around an intentionally constructed sense of self that is displayed to those around us. That we won’t interact face to face because of the fact that we are so concerned with the ways in which our characters interact changes the entire concept of interaction itself. Hell, a good portion of the “drama” I saw at Further Confusion this year was due to the fact that the badge printers were adding attendees’ real names to the badges, a rather large violation of the separation of character and self.

      There are a few points I feel the need to address, however. Regarding your feelings toward the word “drama”, I have to disagree. It is my job as a writer of…well, let’s call it introspective journalism to write in the vernacular of my audience. I simply don’t feel that I can write about the concept of “drama” within the furry fandom without calling it “drama.” Last night, I watched a con attendee punch another in the chest, then proudly proclaim, “It’s a good thing I’m immune to drama!” The word is very deeply ingrained within the fandom and there’s simply no way that we’re going to extract it. In fact, it has become idiomatic of furry to the point where the word has gained the second meaning of, and here I quote Wikifur, “unnecessary and often immature emotional turmoil” between two or more parties. Accepting the mutable definitions of words is something that I personally enjoy – it is part of the beauty of our language.

      Secondly, I very strongly disagree with your contention that there is no furry community. I would say that, by virtue of the fact that enough people have come together and identified as members of the furry community, the furry community exists. It’s the law of equality, there – I and enough people are willing to call ourselves furries, and thus furries are, and we form the community by interacting with each other both online and off in order to form a general consensus that is both specific enough to not simply be a fan community, yet not so specific as to exclude too many people. This weekend, I spent my time around four thousand some-odd people who were willing to come together in a hotel and share this consensus in person such that we could all come together under one name: furry.

      Finally, I’d like to say that, while I agree with you in that the word “drama” is more a name of the resultant problem rather than any initial issue, I disagree that my post was a “lament” against this concept: my goal was to explore the fact that so many of those who identify as furry do indeed spend a lot of time talking about, thinking of, and potentially causing this “drama”. While it might not be unique to the fandom, that we spend so much time and energy focusing on this one concept is interesting enough for me to spend at least three of my weekly articles on the topic. My goal was not to explore the underlying issues behind “drama” so much as to explore the fact that the fandom does focus on it rather a lot. I do apologize if I was not successful in my attempt, but I feel that the underlying causes are far too varied for a blog that is intended to cover many more generalized aspects of furry.

      Thank you very much for your own readership as well as your comment. I hope the fact that I have chosen to spend some time focusing on a subject that I do personally find interesting doesn’t dampen any fun you might have while browsing or following the site, especially considering there are two more articles along the same vein that are in the pipe-line. Feel free to respond with your thoughts to those posts as well, or contact me at makyo@adjectivespecies.com if you’d like to talk more directly about such things.

      Best,

      ~M

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