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Furries: The Internet as their Costume

The rise of the expanding world that the Internet created various little communities where people with similar ideals have been able to unite and express themselves to one another without the threat of an outside appearance hindering the formation of potential relationships. In these groups, people are able to unleash their innermost sources of secret pleasures and hobbies onto one another, showing off sides of themselves that they would never unleash onto their boss, coworkers and even their closest of friends. In this case, the Internet becomes a source of escape from reality; instead of facing the day-to-day troubles that can lead to suffering, people have the ability take refuge in their little communities where they are able to connect and help one another. An online (and real life) community and beliefs come in the form of “Furries”. This group focuses intensively on animals, and how certain animals can describe a person. They have really become somewhat popular due to the spread of their culture to online communities. These groups allow people from different backgrounds and cultures to unite in their love for one common theme.

The Furry movement began in the 1980s after several comic book series were first released which featured animal characters with human characteristics and personalities. This was not a particularly new innovation but nonetheless helped to popularize the fundamental ideas behind the movement. These anthropomorphic animals inspired people to take upon the identity of another animal character, put on a costume of said character, and become someone/something else. In some cases, Furries create their own original character and make an identity for it. They take it to the next level and sometimes create their own “fursuit” for the character and use it to meet other Furries in conventions and meet ups.

An example of a fursuit. They appear to be at a convention

       Furries have since spread online, using the Internet as a home to communicate with each other and to meet up with each other. Furries connect with one another through social networking, and there is even a Furry specific social network that they use. Here in the webiste Furry4Life, Furries become friends with one another, connect, and even share their own artwork with each other. There is an event tab on the website where I’m sure Furries schedule meet ups and different events (you need to be a member to see  what specific events they are planning). The website is constantly updating with the recent activity of its members. They are also present on another website called SoFurry, where Furries communicate using different forums and talk about animations that other members post.  Both of these websites’ descriptions have a very open attitude towards who they would like to visit their website. Furry4Life describes itself as a network for people who are fans and live the furry lifestyle. SoFurry calls itself a home for artists and fans of anthropomorphic animals in general. These descriptions are quite relevant because there are various definitions of what Furries are, and how they are supposed to act. Some believe that actually speaking like a Furry makes you one and that even if you have a fur suit and participate in conventions, you are still susceptible to be labeled as a “poser” if you do not know the language. Others, however, believe that by simply admiring of anthropomorphic animals makes you a Furry, even without completely knowing it.

On Tumblr, there has been an attempt to list the different “do’s and don’ts” in the Furry fandom. The author of this blog generally looks to protect her fellow Furries as well as answering any questions that a relatively new Furry might have about code of conduct. Tumblr is also home to a hateful blog about the Furries. In this blog, the users post and reblog the negative things that some Furries say around the Internet. Of course, in any large group there will be ignorant people who will say ignorant things. The people who run this blog are also associated with those who express hate towards Bronies as well, and the actual page has multiple links to other blogs that also express hate towards the Furries. The people running the blog use many slurs towards the Furries and also selectively choose quotes that can easily either be taken out of context or be used to make the entire group appear bad. In this blog, there is no credit given to any good aspects of Furries, such as their creativity. In this case, Furries go through some sort of adversity seeing that their lifestyle gets attacked time and time again by certain people, both in the internet, and in the real world, where most people would believe that their lifestyle is weird when compared to the norm. It is because of people like this that Furries exist most loudly in online communities. People who cannot open up their horizons to this harmless group that are a little bit different in their lifestyle are the reasons that people have to hide their true selves to begin with. We should accept differences and embrace it. Lastly, Furries use Tumblr as a way to bond with one another. I found a page that explores a humorous side to living as a Furry. This comedic page appeals mainly to Furries, and is filled with some inside jokes, ones that only a Furry can comprehend, and other posts that would universally make a “normal” person smile, mainly because there are some posts of animals which would be considered as cute. Once again, this is an example of Furries bonding online, and enjoying each other from a distance, connected by a network.

According to an online survey, 81% of Furries in a selected sample were males. Eighty-nine percent of these Furries were Caucasian. The most common occupation these people is that of a student, which corresponds the average age of these Furries, which is 24.3 years of age. This movement will continue to evolve over the coming years. An interesting result that came from this study was that a majority of participants were either bisexual or homosexual. This shows that no matter one’s orientation, one can become a Furry, and that the Internet no doubt plays quite a large part in the relationships between Furries. The majority of Furries make less than twenty thousand dollars, a function that correlates with the fact that the majority of Furries are students. The majority of Furries also participate in Furry activities, multiple times in a week. Furrues are typically heavily involved, which means that they consider being a Furry a lifestyle. Lastly, Furries spend reportedly spend a majority of their time on the internet; whether it be through blogging, participating in chat rooms, or meeting new friends on the Internet.

The Internet has created a safe place for people with unique interests to congregate. These online communities create a meeting place where ordinary people with alternative interests can meet each other and talk about something that both parties enjoy. This community enjoys having the ability to become something else, and by wearing their fursuits, they become someone else, assuming different characteristics based on the animal of their choosing.  In this sense, the Internet becomes a perfect haven because Furries  use the Internet as an alternative costume, assuming another identity in order to potentially attract and meet new people. Furries, and others for that matter, should not be attacked and criticized for their differences. If they are not harming others in the process, they should be left alone to do what they please.

For more Information on the Furries, I found a documentary on the fandom:

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