By Twilight Stray
There will be no ranting, no revocation of my moderator status accompanying a long angry essay advocating the downfall of the community, and declaring myself hereafter gone from the world of these frivolous forums full of useless diatribes. That’s been done so many times that it has become a hallmark of the forums- the angry person on the other side of a screen somewhere, who has become so much of a troo were that they no longer need the community and all of its problems. Often , they want to be entreated to come back- they think if they return triumphantly to meet the encore of the masses then they will ascend in the ranks to something truly worthwhile and popular.
I’ve been around for a few years- which admittedly isn’t a lot, but it has been enough in my own evolution. My art brought me to the forums, where every page struck me like a lightening bolt, where my days were full of epiphanies, serious soul-searching, and the drama of such a revelation as “there are other. By god, there is a name for this thing. And now there is so much to learn.” There was a time when I wanted nothing more to be a respected member of the community, someone who knew what they were talking about, who didn’t anxiously worry that they were in fact posing or didn’t meet the criteria required of whatever label was popular then. I became active when the community was embroiled in the Were symbol debate, and was active in those discussions. My Deviantart gallery still has the largest numbers concerning my ideas regarding the symbol. I cared about numbers, I cared about being real, and I cared about being a Respected Member of the Community. I had a lot to learn then. These are things I still care about to a degree, and I don’t consider myself to be naïve back then. I just had a lot to learn.
I’ll never say I’m done soul-searching. I’ll never declare myself some guru or greymuzzle. But I don’t think the community has as much to offer me as it used to. Not because the community is deficient, though some aspects of it arguably are, but just because I’ve pretty much learned what I can from it. The community was good to me- I got past the basics to learn more not only about myself, but how to debate well and make sure I could back up my arguments. I learned to introspect, and consider other arguments, and above all, to get over myself. The day I learned that it was not the end of the world if someone “knew,” was a big day. Most importantly, the community taught me that everything of real importance can’t be learned from the forums. All the real experience and knowledge about living as an animal-person in the world doesn’t come from reading. It comes from doing. It comes from writing. It’s a process of working from in to out, not learning what’s out there and looking in. I’ve done that- and I’ll always do that to a degree. But now it’s time to really take a look at what’s in there and see what it says about what’s out there, now that I have the experience to do so.
So now I find myself shifting to the other spectrum of Weres on the web- towards the realm of the solitary creatures, perhaps jaded by the community, but who maintain there own repositories of experiences expounding on what all this is for them. We all know the names- those who were once “respected members of the community,” who are no longer really a part of it. Sometimes they are those who were disillusioned with the popularity contest overrun by newbies that they may see the boards as. We have all stumbled across their sites- works of art and individual introspection, typed by those who are confident enough to go without the usual definitions. There is a theme throughout their work, one of evolution, individual awareness, and peace.
I haven’t had a major shift in a very long time now- not since the beginning tumultuous months. I think it’s something like eating- when you go for a long time without food, you become ravenous, but when you steadily keep yourself nourished, you’re fine and can concentrate on being whole. There is still hat dichotomy there, but I’ve become so much more integrated over the years. I’m a wolf-girl all at once, not bottling up this familiar foreign feeling until it haunts my dreams, leaving paw prints across my vision. With looking at all possible sides and arguments, I’m able to find a much better place to balance. And to quote Ozen, one such confident individual, “And now that I start exploring the base of my humanity, I find that there’s a wolf there.” The more I try to find out what’s me, what part is wolf and what is girl, the more I find how it’s all tangled up in this web of Self. Each thread insubstantial, and ineffectual- except where it touches other threads. Wolf on its own isn’t much without creativity, humanity, and so many other threads that overlap and intertwine and dance about until they create a vast net, poised to catch every price of experience or knowledge thrown at it.
I’m not leaving the forums. I’m not really staying though. I’m just doing what I’ve been doing more and more now- responding when it is necessary, and concentrating more on being a wolf living in the world and a girl living in the world. Yes, things will happen, opinions will change. Evolution, adaptations are inherent of the species. I just feel like I’ve been weaned from the puppy playpen of the forums. I have my own little den, and I’m big enough to talk to the big dogs one on one. Being popular, worrying about my own veracity matters less and less, and the drama of arguing on the internet holds nothing new for me- nothing to help me grow. The real stuff has started- and the less dramatic stuff has started. It’s been in the works for some time now; I just may not have seen it. So here I am, moving along the web, towards independence.