Funny thought: As a musician and opera singer in the furry fandom, you generate no ‘cool’ waves. You’d usually have to ‘upgrade’ to, say, a DJ (*snerk*) to attract things like gift art or things like that. Crazy, really, it’s like the 17th century’s version of The Antipodes- everything is all upside-down: The semblance of something is more valuable than the thing itself. Over the years I have grown distant with ‘the fandom core’ as one might call it, and have stayed in touch only with individuals I choose, individuals who I consider worthwhile knowing.
Having been around since I first got online in 1995, I’ve seen a bit of change– back then it was a little more intimate, perhaps, a little hard to access because of the state of the technology, and not everybody was savy … but it usually followed that you had a certain kind of people that tended to be around- perhaps socially awkward and definitely a great number of them a bit of the tech geek, but perhaps a little more knowledgeable of things. Flakes there were and will always be, but the ratios were a little less skewered… heck, I remember when you could go to Yahoo Chatrooms and have an interesting and intelligent conversation (and the same goes for IRC channels. Nowadays….) The point I am driving at is that, as with everything, the more available something is to the mainstream, and the larger the number of people that pour into it, the larger the index of imbecility rises. This is a well-known phenomenon everywhere and perhaps Terry Pratchett had it in mind when he wrote, in the pages of ‘Maskerade’, “The IQ of a mob is the IQ of its most stupid member divided by the number
of mobsters.” This is not reserved to the observations of the literary jocund, but several experiments have shown that there is a marked decrease of intellectual acuity when people act as a group that when they act as individuals. And the larger the group…
So, in essence, yes, I am saying that the furry fandom of today is a very different place than the fandom of thirteen years ago when I first got my feet wet, so to speak, at sixteen. While wonderfully talented individuals are still around (such as Blotch, Bauske, Pinkuh, Vince Suzukawa, Kyell Gould, etc), there is also an enormous profusion of… well.. slackers, aimless people with whom attempting intelligent conversation is akin to venturing into undiscovered country and- I kid you not- for whom the word “erudite” is an insult (one of said ilk flung that insult at me, and was surprised when I took it as a compliment.) When I was in highschool I didn’t feel any identification to the peers of my own age because I considered them shallow and unimpressive, I always sought the company of older, more experienced and knowledgeable people– and I have to admit that I feel very little in common with the ‘younger’ furs, even those that are only four to five years younger than me (notable exceptions, of course, apply), because they seem to be awash in the same sea of triviality and superficiality that my academic peers were so comfortable in.
All this means is that more people found the fandom, crowds got bigger, and -just like in the world of Yahoo chats- the more people there are the chances of finding a ding-dong (or several) increased exponentially to the point that there are so many ding-dongs flitting about that it sounds like St. Paul’s at Christmastide around here sometimes.
But this is not exclusive to the furry fandom, but in everything. I have found that the world, at large, is comprised of a great deal of mediocre people, people who are so terrified of responsibility that they would rather let others prescribe their path for them. Many of them, having never done anything of which they are proud, hate their lives or are extremely dissatisfied with them. These people are the kind of people that derive a perverse pleasure when they hear of a great or famous person being in trouble or falling in disgrace, because dissatisfaction and mediocrity combined engender envy. They’re everywhere- whether they be at the board of the Metropolitan Opera or in the Furry Fandom or whatever.
The trick is this: to understand that they’re inconsequential, in the grand scheme of things. These grey people (borrowing an image from one of my favorite novels, “Momo” by Michael Ende) enjoy putting down the bright and the joyful out of shame of their own impotence. They pretend to be jaded, sarcastic, ‘worldly’ even, with knife-sharp tongues dealing out acidic wisecracks and ridiculing “the naive and the idealistic” not because they know better than they do, but because they are not as brave as they are. But they can’t touch you, if you don’t let them. No-one should ever be allowed to tear down the shining vision of what you want life to be, if you have the courage to pursue it, and all it takes is never giving the green eyed monsters enough importance, so that their barbs matter little when they come.
I guess it is because of this that I have become more withdrawn- I disappeared from the Master Zen Dao Meow boards despite having been there for four years, I broke off with most Colofurs in a rather decided fashion, I stopped going to cons two years ago and continued to nurture only the friendships that I sought while I work on my career (and within it, again, cultivate the friendships of my choosing.) There are, of course, individuals I wish I could speak to more often, such as Vince, but overall I have grown content in choosing my friendships. Elitist? Perhaps, you may call it elitist… but you have to first realize that an elite is “the best of anything considered collectively, as of a group or class of persons.” So it means that I consider the people before me and I choose whom to talk to and whom to interact with, based on my criteria- and I will not choose someone who displeases me or in whom I have little interest. Essentially, I choose what’s best for me. If being friends with a few as opposed to acquaintances with hundreds is elitist, then so be it- I am. Perhaps by doing this I am re-creating the intimate aspect of ‘way back in the day’, or perhaps I am simply one of those rare beasts- the introverted extrovert who is at home in any social gathering and is not uncomfortable at all anywhere, but who keeps his hand close and shares it with only those he trusts.