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Cycle of Fandom Involvement

Posted: November 5, 2011 1:54:28 • By Meadow Whisper (Natasha L.) • 811 words

Note: Some content on this site, including this article, is more than a decade old, and may not accurately reflect the author's current feelings or writing style. More information here.

I originally wrote this for a furry forum, but it applies to pretty much any fandom in existance. So if you're not a furry, mentally replace "furry" with whatever fandom you belong to.

So, you're a furry now. You've been around the fandom for awhile, maybe a few months, maybe a year or more. You're active on furry sites all over the internet, you have lots of friends in the fandom, you have a fursona. Perhaps you've even commissioned some art, or acquired a tail. The furry fandom has become part of your life, and maybe even part of your identity.

Now what?

I mean, sure, you know where to find art, but there just isn't much novelty to it anymore. And you've spent months picturing yourself as a {insert species here}, but how does that really affect your life? You still have your furry friends, but the fandom itself just isn't a subject of stimulating conversation anymore, there's nothing left to talk about that you haven't already discussed. And sure, maybe you'd like to go to a con or something, or maybe you've already been to a con or three, but it's just not as exciting a prospect as it was last year. So what's the point?

Congratulations, you've graduated from The Newb Phase. Welcome to The Rest Of The Fandom.

Every single member of every fandom, from the anonymous fringe to the high-profile community leaders, has been at this point, thinking exactly the same thing. "Why am I still here?". And if they haven't, they will eventually. It's the point where the fandom itself is no longer a new and novel thing on its own, where just saying "I'm a furry" is a meaningless statement. Fandom are a wonderful communities, and it's a lot of fun just to be here when it's new. But, at some point, simply being here is no longer fun, because the fandom itself is no longer new and exciting, it's comfortable and familiar. So simply being here is akin to simply being at the mall. It's not bad, but there's nothing special about it anymore.

So, why are we all still here? Because we found something that turned our self-identification from "I'm a furry" to "I'm a furry {something}" or "I'm a furry who does {something}". The exact contents of {something} vary greatly from person to person, and many furs have more than one "thing" that keeps them coming back. Artistic skill and costuming are the most common ones, but it can be literally anything. Even completely unrelated hobbies such as amateur radio or motorcycling can be one's attachment point to the fandom. No matter what it is, we're all still here because we found a way to turn the furry fandom from a comfortable environment into a supportive community for our passions. To every fur who made it past The Newb Phase, the fandom itself is just another social environment, but what makes it magical is that we can proclaim "Hey, I'm passionate about {hobby}", and easily find endless people who are not only also interested in {hobby}, but who are already part of the same social circle and will embrace us with open arms. That, my friends, is the true magic of the fandom world. I can go to any furry con in the world, put up a bulletin board message (or a tweet or forum post, this being 2011 and all) saying "Backgammon Meet-Up, 7pm at Table 12 in the Zoo", or some other obscure interest, and at least one person will show up and be my friend. Guaranteed.

What if you don't find that special "something" that keeps you coming back? What if you showed up for the novelty of the community itself, and just couldn't find anything else to keep you here? Don't feel bad, it happens. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of FA and DA accounts for people who showed up, the novelty faded, and they simply vanished. Even on the forum where this was posted, where so many members have gone on to become strong members of the fandom at large (I dare say it happens at a much higher rate than most furry sites), there are more than a few who simply faded and went on to other things, or went out with a bang (changing username to "furriessuck" is a popular one, we always change them back when we find them). So, it's entirely normal, and we're all sad to see it happen. You might move on to another nerdy sub-group; the MLP fans are a lot of fun. Or, you might just focus on other hobbies and stick to more traditional social circles.

But you know what? If you decide to come back, the furries will always be here with open paws, and an open audience to whatever else you might enjoy.