Yesterday’s Wars (and why they mattered)
When I was active in the fictionkin (at that time, Otakukin) community it safe to say that all hell was breaking loose, day after day. Nobody really had a safe space to be fictionkin. Journals, communities and forums were, if not on a daily basis certainly on a weekly one, subjected to some of the most rigorous trolling and harassment I have ever seen in my life. In some cases it was persistent individuals, in some cases dedicated groups. In all cases, it was chaos.
Every day those of us in the community had our identities, and our sanity questioned. We lived and posted under a barrage of insults and the constant, hovering threat that even our private friends only posts would be taken, made public and subjected to ridicule. There were cases of trolls lurking in communities for months, gaining trust, only to expose themselves, post our secrets and make off into the night, laughing. Whenever we posted, we felt threatened, challenged.
Looking back, what all of this constant trolling and negative attention to the community did was make us stronger. Because we were questioned every day on our identities and what it meant to be fictionkin, we reflected every day on what these things meant to us, on why they were important. We hesitated before posting to make sure that our thoughts were organized as best to reflect that YES we were serious, and NO we were not insane. We were people with a belief, a strong belief, a belief that was constantly called into question. A belief that mattered, if only to us.
I look now and I see a community that has grown soft and idle, that no longer day after day has the bubbling pressure to defend itself. To rally together. I’ve commented already that the community feels very scattered today, and I think is part of the reason. I think that we scattered to avoid the scrutinizing gaze of trolls and harassment– to each carve out a personal place on the internet where our we could air our beliefs without threat.
I think for the most part it worked, and that, for the most part, it has been to all of our detriment.
I think without outside scrutiny many of us have lost the will to self scrutinize, and without persecution we have lost the reason to all hang together. And so I see us all hang separately. All alone in our little bubbles of what it means to be fictionkin– or otherkin– or therian. We hang separately and so our worlds become little bubbles of self reinforcement and feedback without any reason to question ourselves, to grow.
I see the problem but I don’t know what its remedy is. Certainly I don’t call for the days of constant war again, tiring, emotionally draining, and repetitive. But I think we as a community– if we are to BE a community need something to bring us together. Something to make us continue to search and question and reflect and scrutinize ourselves– not because we need to prove our beliefs to others, but because our beliefs matter.