Friday, September 26, 2008

Observations from a class on Furries

I went to a class in SL about what's it mean to be a furry in SL and in RL. The class was held in a tree house.

The sim was really pretty - - their piece of it anyway - lots of woods and greenery. To get there you had to go up a long spiral ramp that went round and round the tree. Pretty, but hard to negotiate. They have a lot of freebies that I need to go back and check out. There were pillows to sit on and they had animations built in to make us sit cross legged. There were 6 or 7 pillows in a circle.

The person leading the discussion was a male lion in a suit. He said they'd been a furry for more than 10 years. He stood in the center of the circle and moved to face people as they asked questions. He either typed very slowly or there was a lot of lag on his end - his typing animation would freeze for long periods; I thought he had been logged out a couple of times he was frozen so long.

He would type small chunks of text, wait, and then sometimes we'd ask questions or he'd continue. The teacher kept the atmosphere light and encouraged people to ask questions whenever they wanted. At first people asked permission to ask a question but then we just started asking - we didn't type over each other's questions or his answers. The questions were polite - no furry bashing. The questions were also very introductory (mine included).

A little while into the discussion a lady lion avatar sat down and was introduced as his mate. She didn't say anything and they didn't say anything publicly to each other during the class (don't know of course if they were IM'ing or if they were together physically). She seemed to be more human, more anthropomorphized, than the teacher did but not sure why it seemed that way but I think it was because she was dressed revealingly and I saw skin, not fur. Neither seemed to have paws - I saw fingers moving while he typed.

There were 5 people in the audience when the class started and suddenly 3 of them disappeared -don't know if they teleported away or crashed. There were 2 women and a man who disappeared. one of the women asked a question and got an answer before they disappeared. The teacher made a joke about needing new material to keep his audience. The two of us left - me and a male avatar were still sitting and asking questions. The other guy was in jeans and a tshirt and had glasses. He was a human, not a furry. I was dressed as a human too. We all had voice enabled but the teacher used text chat and so did we.

After 90 minutes a few more people showed up but I had to leave before they asked any questions. It sounds like they try to have these talks about furries every friday - worth checking out.

It was kind of strange being in a group that small - kind of felt like you had to ask questions. And since the guy leading the discussion didn't talk much, it wasn't obvious what might be ok topics to ask about. I was originally worried about how to dress - should i put on some furry bits like a tail or ears, or should I dress up. In the end I just went with jeans and my hawaiian shirt, short hair and a pony tail. I forgot to put glasses on so my face looked weird to me.

I have the chat transcript on a notecard in world if people in class want to see it. I learned a couple of new things - some furries don't consider neko's to be furries (neko's are part human, part animal, like cat girls). There are ferals, anthros, and nekos - ferals are all animal and play as animals; antrhos are anthropomorphized animals and have human thoughts and usually walk upright. Nekos are human except for maybe cat ears or just a tail.

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