Some of you might know by now that the great and logical Mokele has finally bid adieu to the therianthropy community, and entered official retirement. His site is still up, but a lot of personal information has been removed, and there will be no future updates, obviously.
I’m tempted to follow him, but I know I’d be doing it for all the wrong reasons. Knowing my fella as I do, I know that a big component in his decision was how busy his offline life has become. The poor guy is swamped on the best of days, and his priorities have made a major shift. Ours both have, but I’m still not ready to completely bow out yet, though I’m not much more than a ghost in the community as it stands currently.
I think about leaving because nowhere can I find the community I joined. Years ago I was an overexhuberant, often messed up, spiritually open, anxious teenager. I’m embarrassed when I think back to how I behaved then, and yet I experienced more acceptance then than I have ever found in recent years. I could be cynical and say that this is because the community has always been more willing to welcome naive, stupid, and illogical children, but I know that not to be true. I was welcomed because I shared a fairly uncommon trait, and because there was a spirit of acceptance in many places back then that has all but vanished now.
There was still drama, of course, still petty fights between people whose online-egos grew too large, but that was the minority, and it didn’t have too much of an effect on those of us who weren’t privy to private groups, meetings, and conversations. Now, it seems that every board has such individuals. Everywhere I go I find the elitist groups, the argumentative, the whimsical, the angsty, the moronic… They’re a whopping majority, and they’re affecting the way the community thinks.
It used to be that I could share a beautiful shifting experience without being criticised, questioned, or ridiculed. It used to be that anyone writing purple prose about their ridiculous romantic notions of a “purer time” and “what it means to be an animal” would be gently reminded that they’re human, and they need to come to terms with that. “Human” was not an accepted insult, and science was not the enemy. Spirituality could be discussed next to psychology. People were not so anxiety-prone and uncertain that they felt the need to propagate their theories by destroying others.
People were allowed to disagree.
Maybe I lucked out with the places and people I found, or maybe nostalgia is fooling me into thinking such a time existed when really it did not, but I do think the majority can agree that this community is not the same one of 3, 5, 10 years ago. It’s not the same at all, and it certainly has not changed for the better.
Why do I stay when I’m clearly so disillusioned?
Well, my first answer would be “I don’t rightly know”. Investigating my inner-workings further I’d say that I’m a bit of a masochist, and a bit of an optimist: I cling to the hope that if I gently prod the too-trusting towards the cynical, or the cynical towards the trusting, that we can find a common ground; that we could thresh out an explanation, a definition, even a community that does not seesaw dramatically between the two extremes of “anything goes” and “bastardised logic”.
I don’t think it’s so hard to say “I believe” or “I feel” when one is discussing elements not set in stone, or lacking in factual basis, nor do I feel it’s anything less than hypocritical to mock, kick, or ban polite, thoughtful people who discuss the spiritual for being “moronic and illogical” on boards dedicated to a personal and ineffable phenomenon. There IS a middle ground here, but no one seems to want to work towards it; everyone is too busy putting someone else down.
I say this as much because I’m tired of being treated like a bad person because I can’t believe everything that is esoteric, and because I’m tired of watching the many groups faction off simply because everyone is so caught up on their way and their definition of therianthropy that they can no longer see the wood for the trees.
I’m not an active member in the community anymore. I post from time to time, and occasionally I start to feel like I’m an accepted member again; just someone in the world who can relate to all these strangers because we share something so amazing and confusing in common. And then the bickering starts, the misinterpretations, and the hatred, and I just want to retreat to my tree and not come down.
I suppose one could say that I need to care less about the individuals and more about the concept; about therianthropy, but at this point I’m beginning to suspect that all these problems arise from people caring far too much. Whether it’s the newbie who wants to create a ‘name’ for himself in the community, and does so by criticising everything he reads or hears, whilst inadvertently behaving in the way he’s come to hate and ridicule; or those stating with religious fervour that they must re-define therianthropy more stringently in order to “protect” it from the “moronic masses”.
I really think everyone’s completely forgotten why therianthropes first started coming together: to share, to discuss, and maybe to make some friends.