There are somethings the Internet has exposed me to that I can’t brainwash myself enough to forget.
Things that make me go “Ew”:
Irresponsible pro-ana sites. I have empathy for people with eating disorders. What I don’t understand is why sites that encourage a type of mental illness or eating disorder can be so irresponsible. Women who want to lose a few pounds (generally because society promotes underfed boniness as sexy) occasionally joke about wishing they could “catch a dose” of anorexia. I know they are using that as shorthand to say that they wish they had better control over emotional eating or better will power, but come ON. For one thing, if you lack most of the underlying issues that plague the average anorexic (such as anxiety over becoming an adult and relating sexually with others, or feeling out of control in a general sense…not that every anorexic has these issues, but they seem prevalent), you’re not going to “catch” anorexia. It’s not a virus.
I have seen some images of anorexics (and, in the past, was accused of being one when I was not), and my reaction is more likely to be “I think I’ll go have a bowl of ice cream with chocolate chips and wash it down with a few steaks” (though I don’t need either menu item at the moment) than “Oh God, I am a fat cow”. Though, yeah, there’s some of that. But mostly it’s “ew” and a lot of pity and concern. I inevitably wonder how many of the girls posting are going to be dead in a few months. I get depressed. It’s all very sad. What complicates this issue for me is that I am completely pro-choice, and accepting of people’s right to get body modifications and respectful of Do Not Resuscitate requests / patient-requested euthanasia (though it’s plagued with such a potential for homicidal abuse that I can’t back it totally). So I accept that someone has the right to starve to death if they really want to, but I don’t have to like it or think it’s psychologically sound or that people shouldn’t intervene when the anorexic is underage.
Die, Spammers, Die! Nuff said.
Creepy Furries. Encyclopaedia Dramatica says: “If furries were dudes who like hardbodied 19-year-old girls in bunny suits, there’d be no need for an article here. Furries are, in fact, the opposite: people who are out to ruin the fun of wearing costumes for sex for everyone. This is what happens when kids are raised by television cartoons, constantly told to play with talking teddy bears, or excessively roleplay the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RPG. The furry subculture can also be viewed as the product of an unholy miscegenation of hick and nerd culture […]. The circumstantial evidence for this view is strong in that furry culture has strong elements of animal fucking, a popular hick pastime, and significant links to anime, a staple of nerd civilization. Furries are disturbing due to the intricate, full-body suits—-known as fursuits—-every furry will eventually build one and most will only have sex with them on […]. Furry artwork tends to species-blend and be overtly sexual. […] Furries are frequently mocked and featured on Something Awful and the Portal of Evil, where the worst of the worst are showcased and ridiculed. This leads to cries of ‘fursecution’, and often furries compare their detractors to Hitler and act as if being made fun of is equal to the plight of the Jews, which does little to help their credibility.”
There’s a lot to be offended by in that somewhat biased commentary (you should see the homophobic comments I deleted…or, not) but there’s also a grain of truth in it. I don’t like how it was said, but I would have pussyfooted around the issue far more. (No pun intended. I don’t have any cats or cat-like things on my feet.) May I say that grossly inaccurate comparisons to the Holocaust made by apparently insensitive or ignorant people shrieking “Fursecution” insult me to the bone, and I am not even Jewish. It detracts from the actual horrific event and makes it seem less appalling. (Also, invoking Hitler on the Internet earns an automatic “You Lose”.) Someone teasing you for wearing a costume may be mean and lack a sense of fun (in your opinion), but they do not attempt genocide. Get clear on that.
As for what Wikipedia says about Furries, read on: “There exist online galleries which host erotic furry art. This art style [and frottage or actual sexual intercourse while in a fur suit] is known as yiff in the Furry fandom. Pornographic material focusing on intercourse whilst participants wear fursuits also exists. The term Furvert (a portmanteau of “furry” and “pervert”) specifically refers to the subgroup of the fandom that sexualizes anthropomorphic animal characters. The term may be used pejoratively, as a joke, or merely as a descriptor.”
In the interest of full disclosure: I used to draw ‘funny animal cartoons’. I was incredibly shocked when I found out that one of my ‘fans’ was disappointed that the furry people didn’t have sex. Her furry animal cartoons had lots of sex! (They were also often naked toddler furpeople doinking, for that fun added “Grooooo…EWWW!” factor.) My cartooning wasn’t THAT kind of furry animal art. Adding animal elements was a way to avoid being sued so I could make wicked, scathing fun of famous popstars. Plausible denial. “Judge, do Madonna or Simon Le Bon really look like people with big cat-dog faces and tails? No. I rest my case.” In fact, the main difference between my furry animal toons (besides the fact that I drew the bulk of them when I was 16 and 17, the fact that I never took them too seriously, the fact that no one reported that they felt grossed out after reading them, and the fact that several were published by legitimate massmarket international magazines) is that they were 95% people, with human bodies wearing clothing. Fur-Art seems to reverse the percentage (humanoid face, humanoid private parts, that’s it) and Clothes Are Bad (usually). And there’s a lot of sex. Yup.
Basically, all you need to know is that a quick search for furry information online leads, 90% of the time, to sites about people who like to dress up as animals (with or without extra genitalia or tails, and with varying degrees of anthropomorphism involved) and either skritch or yiff each other. I suspect that the 10% out there who retain a grasp on reality and / or can function in the “real world” without wanting to be or actually being in a furry costume constantly and who find the idea of fetishizing yiffesque behaviors gross are unhappy about the whole thing. We’ve all been in fandoms or liked things where the loony & attention-seeking minority ruin it for the sane & quiet majority. Furries are worrisome in that the minority out there must suffer for the obnoxious majority.
Personally, I have witnessed innocents attending fandom conventions (the Green Room has great free booze and nosh; if your boyfriend’s band ever plays a fan convention, definitely go) in cute homemade animal suits who aren’t aware that other human beings exist who would be actually be turned on by Sonic the Hedgehog or Wookiees (I am assuming) and who thus do experience psychological damage after being squashed into a crowded hotel elevator with people in cute homemade animal suits who like to grope / yiff others or use squicky endearments or make yucky comments. One of the reasons the o.O and >X(( smiley icons were invented. We’re not even going to get into Furries who “marry” or doink actual animals (i.e., bestiality), because that just makes me sad.
Trolls. Trolling hasn’t been particularly witty or productive since about 1996. Cut it out, you’re boring. Or step up your game.
Deluded Otherkin. Otherkin are humans who believe they are not human, but instead they are human-looking shells which contain the souls of mythical creatures, such as dragons or fairies. Otherkin differ from furries in that furries like to dress up and pretend, while otherkin believe they really are non-human and don’t (usually)dress up. Also furries generally pick real (usually furry) animals, while otherkin go for mythological creatures, almost always with wings.
This is not to be confused with a Native American tradition of “spirit animals”, but as I am not actually a Native American, and as there are approximately 56,932 different tribes with different belief systems, I refuse to make an ass of myself trying to explain further. Suffice it to say that the Native American beliefs are not loony. Also, degree of looniness in Otherkin directly correlates with the ability to differentiate “this is a fun fantasy concept I like to explore” and a deep-seated conviction that there’s an actual dragon or faerie inside you just bursting to express itself. Hey, when I was six, seven or eight years old (and eight is stretching it), my best friend and I liked to pretend we were fairies. While playing outside. For a change of pace. Being cats was fun too. No actual belief that we were mythical beings or animals was involved. If an adult still thinks it is fun to play-act that he or she is a mythical being, fine. Just know when to draw the line so you can function in society.
Encyclopaedia Dramatica snarks about what happens when otherkin do decide to dress up: “Glamour Bombing is where fat, delusional “faeryie-kin” run around downtown in your city nekkid except for a cowboy hat, a tutu and faery wings, to, you know, freak the mundanes and stuff. Most people who “glamour bomb” have probably never held on to even the simplest fast-food job for more than a week at best.” Do not confuse this practice with nice, normal gay guys who like to dress up during pride parades. We love our gay guys. They can wear tutus all they want to. Especially during pride parades and at clubs. Those who actually want to, that is, which is not to be confused with the large percentage of gay guys who don’t have any interest in tutus. (Not ONE of my gay guy friends would be caught dead in a tutu, though one or two are partial to glitter.) Go, gay people.
I’m going to reserve the right to give the side-eye to any adult who seriously thinks they are secretly a dragon, though. That is a bit too “creative” for me. Seek meds.
Fake Deaths Online. A cry for help. Some of us wonder, morbid-like, who would and wouldn’t give a crap if we died. We might even think about who’d bother to come to the ceremonial bod-planting. Who’d bring flowers. Who’d bring pie. (Pie is good.) Who’d fling themselves atop our casket and wail like a bad actor on a soap opera. But we don’t actually give it enough thought to pretend-off our virtual selves on the Internet(s). On the other hand, illogic and dumb quotes make this a trainwreck worth exploring once in a while, just for the “there but for the grace of whatever deity or deities I honour go I” factor. But you wouldn’t. Go there, I mean.
Pro-self-harm communities. Not to be confused with self-abuse, though I pray that no one has seriously formed a community to discuss it at any length. (This being the Internet, I am being naive and foolishly hopeful.) Self-harm used to be the province of unhappy people who acted out suicidal ideation and unhappy dysfunctional Goths (note that “dysfunctional” and “Goth” are NOT synonyms, but they are, sadly, not universally oxymoronic either). Now every kid who likes Emo music (my understanding is that no actual Emo-music-loving kids call themselves Emo unless they are misinformed, but pretty much everyone else does) is assumed to be a cutting fool.
Mainstream America gets little peeks at the practice when watching movies like “Secretary” (with Maggie Gyllenhaal, whose surname I probably spelled wrong) and even “Nip/Tuck” episodes (where not only patients dig out the sharp pointy things to transfer focus on inner emotional torment to outer physical pain, but Dr. McNamara even has a go). Again, I accept that people have the right to carve their bodies up if they want to, but I worry about it. Also, I really don’t like cutting being portrayed as something cool, or having it implied that it helps fix the underlying internal issues or self-hated or depression.
Oddly enough, I may have been a kid who indulged in self-harming. It was more accidental than deliberate. I’d be reading a book and winding a hank of hair around a finger and suddenly there would be a hank of hair detached from my scalp. I was never a full-fledged trictillomaniac since I never had noticeable bald spots, but I have to say that this behavior just isn’t normal. On the other hand, I would never have joined an online group called “Scab-Pickers and Hair-Yankers and Skin-Cutters R Kewl”. Most cutting-related groups are for support. It’s the few that seem to revel in it as being some kind of defiant and shocking and ultimately useful behavior that I fret about.
Pro-Drano-quaffing communities. They don’t exist (I hope), but when they do, Darwin Awards will be given out left and right.
I sense a trend. I am not big on practices that encourage existing or potential psychological problems. Sanity is a tenuous concept for far too many people without other folks creating new and different ways to act out and attention-seek. I don’t like to observe people hurting themselves or creeping out other people. I agree that they have a right to do it, but I have a right to protest and mockitymockmockmock. This implies to me that I can dislike a particular subculture or practice, but have no particular problem being friends with certain people who enjoy the subculture or practice. (For further information, see the upcoming exposes on this very journal:
- Almost Everyone Else In My Family Voted For Bush
- My Mom Sicced Jesse Helms on Some Wiccans In North Carolina
- My Mom Revoked a Thanksgiving Invite For My Friend Tracy When She Learned Tracy Was Male and Gay
- My Mom Discussed Hiroshima and Nagasaki With My Japanese Roommate
- My Mom Had A Conniption When I Failed To Inform Her That My Roommate Was Black (Parts I through IV)
- My Mom Embarrassed My Boyfriend By Asking About The Earring Hole In His Earlobe Even After He Tactfully Chose On His Own To Remove His Earring Before Meeting Her
- My Mom Told My Gay Friend That It Was A Shame He Was Not Straight So That We Could Marry And Have Babies
- My Mother Refers To Some Of My High-School Friends As ‘Your Jewish Friend So-and-So’ Every Damn Time Even When Religion Isn’t Relevant To The Discussion
- My Mother Has Had Eye-Opening Experiences Teaching In A Public School And Now Fancies Herself Politically Correct And Qualified To Complain If Someone Says ‘Homeless’ Rather Than Saying ‘Urban-Outdoorsperson’, “Homestead-Challenged’, ‘Shelter-Disadvantaged’ And So On: Ask Her About How Cool All Black People Are And How Artistically Valid And Culturally Relevant Gangsta Rap Is
- My Cousin Once Asked In All Seriousness ‘What’s So Bad About Being Barefoot And Pregnant If All You Are Is Just A Housewife?’
- My Cousin Thinks Pro-Choicers Are Going To Hell And That Everyone Should Breed Or Risk Having No Purpose In Life
- My (Other) Cousin Was Once Not A Baptist, Was A Lawyer, And Was An Infantryman, and Is Now A Born-Again (Everyone Else Got It Right The First Time) Pain In The Ass About Poorly-Researched Jesus Quotes (e.g., What Christ Never Said About Gay People) and Poorly-Researched Politics (e.g., Bush Won Florida Fair And Square, Pay No Attention To A Nepotistic Governor, Denial Of Voting Rights To African-Americans and The Diebold Executives Behind The Oval Office Curtains).
That last expose will need a new title. Show, not tell, and all that.
My circle of friends and acquaintances is vast, and you couldn’t extrapolate the kind of people I’d enjoy befriending by selecting only a few of them. All my friends together in one place? Most of them would hate the rest of them. Me? I like them all or I wouldn’t hang out with them, ever. But some are more exhausting to deal with at length than others. This doesn’t make them bad people, it just means I’m not a saint. Also, I am grateful that they put up with my faults and quirks and occasional outbursts of crankiness. As I age, I grow opinions. Those opinions tend to take over my brain at times and make me blurt out things to my most trusted confidants that, while still tactful, would have been best left unsaid. (Note To Self: No one gives a crap about your opinion unless they request it…or read your online journal. Staple note on forehead. The end.)
Well, I guess you’re reading my online journal. Hello. You have met some of my currently unruly opinions. Sorry about that. They are litterbox-trained, but resistant to leash-wearing. It happens.