Furry Fandom and the Internet forced back to roots by viral outbreak
The Internet was seen as a major catalyst for the furry fandom finding one another during the times before we held conventions. During that earlier period in the 1990s, conventions and meets were rare, and finding one another was done mostly through the chat rooms and message boards of the past. There was no bandwidth for video or sharing major animation projects, therefore most of our intimate conversations were textual.
For many younger furries, it was a time that was lost in the annals of a distant history. Instead they found themselves joining in amongst a wave of growing conventions being held in various places around the world on any given weekend. Ones where those in custom fursuits march out in the streets openly rather than feeling a stifling isolation of being cooped up in hotel spaces, with a handful of home made creations, being wary of a hostile media looking for a freak show.
Coming out of 2019, it seemed that the time where furry was just an Internet thing was fully behind it. However a series of unfortunate events were in line for 2020, a year that has led humanity to be forced into their rooms by an irate Mother Nature as an easily spread virus has forced governments around the globe to take drastic measures to slow its spread and put strict limits on social gatherings. A situation which has forced both the furry fandom, and the internet that brought it together, back to their roots.
The Internet reverts to a tool of defensive
The technology that has brought together the furry community and delivers your swag directly to your door started with a very different function in mind. In the 1960s funding was pushed into a project to prevent military or research intelligence from being lost to a nuclear attack on vulnerable facilities in range of a nuclear strike. To do this the military looked to decentralize the information infrastructure so that the loss of a facility to an attack would allow other facilities to retain copies of vital information.
Therefore the old adage of “what is shared on the Internet stays on the Internet” to describe how once something is posted online it will never go away, for better or worse, has its truth embedded in the Internet’s origin. That was, indeed, the original intent of the Internet’s design.
Since those earlier days the Internet moved away from its purely defense role and has found its way into the establishment of communities and has evolved into a more commercial usage. So much so that “.com” was, and still is, the most common suffix to addresses indicating commercial/private domains. To most users, its foundation as a network for information defense had been long lost to its usage as a community creation and commerce tool.
So much so that the government has basically abandoned the sharing of vital information from .gov domains and instead has started to just join in on the .com social networks, which has led us into our vulnerabilities to misinformation and confusion.
But regardless of this evolution in the Internet’s use, we find ourselves in a world where governments have been forced to implement social distancing tactics to lower the spread of COVID-19. This forces us to, once again, use the Internet in a role of tactical defense. Of decentralizing people from clustered hubs of their inner-city meeting spaces to coming together in their own homes. Instead of data being spread out over a large space, it is our own abilities and presence that are now the items that are being kept safe by keeping ourselves out of one basket.
Little could those who designed the ARPANET back in its infancy have foreseen that a tool being designed to help protect the country from intelligence loss, would instead be the tool that would protect her population from the wrath of disease. But in 2020, the Internet has become the greatest defense to connect with one another when we cannot directly and to try and remain productive in our data infrastructure while in mandated self-isolation.
And so while the furries are forced to retreat into its virtual borders, they have been here before.
For furries a return to a communicative isolation
While Usenet’s alt.fan.furry may never be what it was before, online communities that once were slowly losing reverence have all of a sudden found a second coming in the days of isolation.
Second Life, a virtual chat room with graphical avatars has started to see bustling activity. The Gay Yiffy Club, a particularly popular spot that has been around for over a decade, is virtually elbow to elbow at almost all hours in these times where the real world clubs and meets developed by the fandom have been forced into abandon. Other clubs such as The Ark have also been crammed to the gills.
Some of the younger furs have turned toward the recent advent of streaming to pass the time in isolation. Conventions, in order to try and raise funds for displaced charities, have also come together to try and encourage these streamers to help in this cause. Keep Calm Con was an example of this for Furnal Equinox, or Down Home Furcon.
This can be great for those who couldn't afford conventions. Through their convention streams of panels that would have otherwise been exclusive on site, it will open the doors to people who otherwise would have been shut out by the exuberant costs of attending events in the downtown metropolitan cities. It should be noted here, though, that some conventions streamed their events even when the conventions were active, showing how important sharing our activities via the web is to our fandom.
However this does come at a cost through the loss of revenue for artists, dealers, and conventions themselves due to the hiatus being enforced. So those furries that can, should certainly support artists and others with the money they would have otherwise spent on hotels, travel, and etc this year. If the financial situation of those furs do not change in this highly volatile time, of course. As the airline always says, put on your own face mask before assisting others. Which may have something to do with them being the first to ask for a bailout. Now if you'll excuse me I need to prepare my anus for when they tell the TSA to do cavity searches on me for that joke.
Our fandom's foundation is mostly within our own imagination, and in a world where the large corporations who try to invoke our imagination through their movies and entertainment are forced to curtail their operations, the playing field has been leveled. Steven Colbert and Seth Meyers are now doing blog style videos in their homes, meaning that my YouTube channel where I look at a camera and yammer to dead silence was just ahead of its time.
As I was editing this a small clip of my channel was featured on Samantha Bee’s show Full Frontal. What is happening to our world, man?
If this need to isolate maintains for a long period of time, the amount of new entertainment from larger institutions will slow, giving ample opportunity to consume works crafted by individuals that can be created in isolation as well as enjoyed in such. In fact, if you have a written work, comic, or game that you enjoy, you can take this opportunity to show support by writing up a review for Flayrah (or Dogpatch Press/Furry Book Review/Amazon/etc).
The other end of the tunnel
Coming together to enjoy our activities in each other’s company through the Internet in spite of the crippling uncertainty of a hostile world is something the fandom has developed a skill for. Life for most furries are uncertain even during the so-called 'good times'. We’re so skilled at this that the Finnish backed press has seemed to suggest adopting a fursona in these trying times. Must be we have shown our ability to try and maintain cheer in adversity so that it’s been seen as a mental benefit in moments such as this.
In fact, this sentiment was echoed in that Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal segment that I had mentioned prior. For a group of people who found each other through isolation, perhaps we will be looked upon to inspire those who find themselves there now themselves. The humans, they’re not alright man.
So fear not, for the year will pass, and those of us who make it will hopefully come out of it stronger and wiser than when we entered. I do anticipate that there will be a handful of obituaries that will need to be written for our site before this wrathful Pangolin Plague is through. It’s important to know that things are going to change, some things for the worse. But hopefully it’ll be enough to snap us out of not taking the time to enjoy the smaller pleasures in life. Good company, fiery spirit, and a helping paw when needed will see us through.
And when we are allowed to march the streets and hold parades again, the humans we share this planet with will certainly feel blessed to be able to enjoy the festivities with us once again.
About the authorSonious (Tantroo McNally) — read stories — contact (login required)
a project coordinator and Kangaroo from CheektRoowaga, NY, interested in video games, current events, politics, writing and finance
Will hugs no longer be the furry handshake after this? I hope not. Someone else already said we can only hope for herd immunity to protect us from future mutations of the virus.
What would the furry fandom be without hugs?!! What would the furry fandom be without fluffy, adorable, and colorful creatures to embrace at a con?!!
An entertaining opinion piece. My favorite part is the unintended joke on paragraph 15 directed at ex-con-attendees: "I am once again asking for your financial support". Passing by on the possibly false assumption that COVID-19 is an "irate Mother Nature" thing and not a "viral engineering" thing. The rest of the article gets better towards the end. It's a good read.
So do you believe that the virus happened because "those" people eat bats, or because it's a conspiracy and manufactured weapon, which "those" people announced to the world in December of 2019 (thus the name COVID-19 and not COVID-20) before it had taken foothold in the countries of their "enemys"?
Can't be both.
The real, unmitigated psychotic energy in your comment, lol. Yeah, it's definitely a black mark against Sonious that he didn't use a commentary on furry subculture to #TeachTheControversy. WHAT IF an animal likely uniquely integral in the evolution of new coronaviruses being slaughtered and sold in crowded open-air markets alongside other wild animals and which has already caused an outbreak of the same kind in recent memory WASN'T the source of another outbreak? WHAT IF it was actually goblins sending the virus to people via virus telepathy? WHAT IF it was spread by bad thoughts? Thank you Mike for asking the real questions here!
COVID-19 is either caused by bat or a pangolin, Sonious.
Research is ongoing. But I'm calling it now – Magnus Diridian's next suit: a Chinese pangolin/vampire bat hybrid wearing a corona.
Just pointing out the figure of speech will not age well if later investigations show it was engineered, a possible hypothesis. I have no idea myself on its origin. Thank yourselves for the false dichotomy, and the long-winded red herring.
It wasn't engineered and that's a horseshit conspiracy theory.
We don't need that kind of bullshit going on now. We hardly have a government that takes it seriously as it stands.
Just pointing out
What about the "possible hypotheses" that it exists to force vaccines on the world, or that it's a byproduct of 5G? Don't forget about those when you're going around giving these friendly pointers to people. I wouldn't want you to end up looking like a fucking idiot or something.
Okay, I'm going to need more on this one.
This one at least sounds kind of fun in addition to stupid.
It's just that China first started rolling out 5G in November, so it was around the same time as the outbreak started, so it's Clear Evidence of 5G making people drop dead.
These things only really get fun when you have a relative who likes to mix-and-match conspiracy theories and loves to post on Facebook.
Other than I've read that meteorology utilizes similar bands as 5G and was afraid of interference caused, so if it was 5G then Doppler radar would have been the end of humanity, yeah?
Not an expert in those kind of things, but I think we have been already using these things outside of the public domain for awhile now.
Oh, okay, it's really, as these things go, not that crazy. Dumb as shit, sure, but not crazy. (There's a difference.)
You don't realize how stupid you look when you think virology or viral engineering are conspiracy theories when they're as legitimate scientific endeavours as GMO research. You know less pathology than a redneck.
Damn, you say "redneck" like it's a bad thing.
Anyway, it's not the existence of GM viruses I'm calling a conspiracy theory, dude.
And if (a big if) the rivals of the United States are militarizing viruses I would think that would be all the more reason to fix our healthcare system as a matter of national security, yeah?
Too much implying in that question, I doubt its purpose.
The question doesn't care about your feelings about it.
And now you're further implying that there are feelings involved. Seems to be the case on your side.
So you're saying that countries are developing viruses to disrupt other countries but those countries should not take actions to prevent illness within their populous?
No emotion about this, it is a serious question.
I mean you can use your military in a RTS to attack the enemy base and dump resources into it, but what good does that do if the enemy has used a tactic that is attacking your economy thus crippling your future ability to create military units?
SCVs and Vils are the foundation, without them any military will crumble. Any RTS player knows this.
You're the one who brought up the possibility that this is occurring and in fact lambasted me for saying that it was a natural occurrence, now I am saying if it is an unnatural, then what action do we need to take as a result?
I never said countries develop viruses to disrupt other countries. I said the SARS-CoV-2 could be an engineered pathogen. There are a few reasons why a pathogen might be engineered.
Some sources now say the virus could have been leaked from a pathogen reservoir. You can attribute it to malice if you like, I'm more of a fan of Hanlon's razor generally.
In any case really this opinion piece is yours, it's an entertaining opinion piece. If you really want to know what I mean when I say things, it's as easy as reading what I'm actually saying instead of some strange imaginary deformation you all seemed to go along in this comments section, beating red herrings.
No idea how I'd go on about resolving a pathogen leak, intentional or otherwise. I'm not an epidemiologist.
Okay, I'm going to chime in as an expert, for real.
Not as an epidemiologist, or whatever, but as a person who has worked in the food service industry. Okay, the most commonly accepted theory for "wah happun?" in the case of our current pandemic is that a pathogen was passed along to humans due to lax and/or negligent food safety regulation; this happens all the time. It's called fucking food poisoning; and, okay, usually the virus or bacteria or whatever doesn't, you know, go worldwide, but that's because most of the time you're dealing with salmonella or E. coli or some shit that is already worldwide because they come from animals that are routinely used in food preparation all over the world and we know how to deal with this shit (both biologically and medicinally).
The consensus is that more "exotic" meat was used in the Chinese markets the virus in all likelihood originated from; one of the reasons we all eat the same basic set of cows and pigs and chickens and turkeys and sheeps across the globe is because we know what pathogens they might contain, and we have evolved immunity to most of them and know how to treat or prevent contact with the rest. HIV/AIDS is the exact same case; the pathogen was passed along to humanity due to eating apes, known as "bush meat". In both cases, economic hardship and political unrest caused a local population to resort to using non-traditional sources of meat to feed themselves without proper preparation, and a mutated virus was able to take advantage of this and cross the species barrier.
There is a reason you can't actually get wild venison at your local store; you might be able to get venison, but it's as farmed as the beef steak, because to legally sale meat in America, it has to go through Critical Control Points during the butchering of the animals to make sure the meat will not kill people who eat it. And, yes, hunters do eat venison that they've hunted and butchered without trained government inspectors; and some of them have died because of this. Look up "chronic wasting disease".
Jesus Christ, "foreigners eating weird stuff" is a old school racist trope; you don't even need the conspiracy theory to be your same old racist self!
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