Furry, Explained

Who are Young Furries and How to Guide Them Through the Fandom

February 23, 2021 Finn the Panther Episode 8
Furry, Explained
Who are Young Furries and How to Guide Them Through the Fandom
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this week's episode, we talk about younger furries! Despite the fandom being primarily composed of adults, the younger generation of furries are crucial to the future of the furry fandom. But they're not perfect, and younger furs tend to make mistakes when navigating their way through the complexity of the furry fandom. So today, we go over the importance of the young furs, as well as tackle some of the common mistakes they make and alternatives that older furries can provide to them!

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Hey there and welcome to Furry, Explained! I’m Finn, a big black cat from the internet, and Furry, Explained is my show about furries and their culture. On this episode we’re going to be talking about young furs! Despite their age demographic being more or less ignored for the most part, younger furries are a very important part of the furry fandom as a whole. In fact the way I see it, the younger generation of furries is arguably the most important when it comes to the health of the furry fandom. One of the main reasons why the furry fandom has survived all these years is due to the younger generation finding the fandom in the first place and being active furries at earlier stages of their life. These younger furs are the future of the fandom, and it’s important that they feel just as welcome to community as someone who is older. Now with that being said, younger furs aren’t perfect, and a lot of them tend to make some mistakes that can cause them to get into a little bit trouble. But those mistakes are mostly due to their inherent young age; a lot of the times, they don’t know any better, and it’s up to us as older furs to correct their mistakes and guide them through how we do things here in the furry fandom. So, in this episode, we’re going to discuss why younger furs are important, but still fallible. We’ll go over some of the more common mistakes that they make, and review some better alternatives to their actions, allowing them to course-correct themselves, and give a layout for what older furs should look out for and give guidance when necessary. This should be a fun one so let’s get into it! Welcome to Furry, Explained, and we’ll get started right… here. 

 

So who are these young furs? Well, this one is pretty simple, young furs are members of the furry fandom who are not adults yet. This usually means they’re under the age of 18, but some also categorize young furs as 16 and younger, but for similar reasons. One of the great things about the furry fandom is that there’s no real age limit to join and be an active member, meaning that on one end of the spectrum you can be considered an older member of society, and still be an active member of the fandom, something we defined in the last episode as a greymuzzle. But it also works the other way as well;  typically, the unofficial age floor for the fandom is the teenage years, since that’s the requirement to sign up for many online social media sites, but there is a large group of members of the furry fandom who are considered young and up and coming. Now, unfortunately, younger furs seem to be a topic of discussion and even disdain for many furries. And it’s true that some of the arguments against younger people joining the fandom are valid: the furry fandom is still primarily made up of adults and because of this, some aspects of the fandom are restricted to those who are mature enough to engage in them, typically those who are older than 18 or 21 and above. Also, because such a large part of the communication amongst furries happens online, there’s the concern that younger furs can be led down rabbit holes that could have otherwise been avoided with proper adult supervision. And those are all solid and legitimate arguments, but in my opinion, that’s not enough to discourage younger people to join the furry fandom. To address those concerns, while I don’t think we should get rid of or even hide some adult aspects of the fandom, I think the fandom as a whole needs to improve the messaging around what is safe for minors and what isn’t. And I agree that younger people and the internet don’t really mix all that well, but I think the generations going forward are doing a lot better in terms of education on online safety, since they are growing up with the internet being an essential part of their lives. But the actual reason why I think the fandom is and should continue to be open to younger members is that they, quite literally, are the future of the fandom. What do I mean by that? Well, think of all the people who you consider “representatives” of the furry fandom. This could be a popular content creator, fursuiter, or someone who shows up at cons all the time. At some point, they are going to get older and quite possibly not want to or physically be unable to be as active in the fandom as they used to. Yet the fandom has lasted this long, and I don’t see it dying anytime soon, so the only way for the fandom to continue growing is for people to grow up with early exposure to the fandom. Now early is relative, and we can argue semantics all you want, but it’s just a matter of fact that the younger you get started in the fandom, the more time you’ll have in your lifetime to enjoy it. Now another reason why I think younger furries are so important to the fandom is that they bring fresh ideas and perspectives and styles to the fandom, allowing them to carve out a niche for themselves and make things that others can enjoy. Just think about all of the new artists, content creators, and even fursuit makers that are out there now. A lot of those producers are either still in their younger ages or just coming out of their teenage years, meaning they’ve been exposed to the fandom for a decent amount of time, and have been working on their contributions to it for all of these years. This is what I mean by saying that young furs are the future of this fandom. They will be the next group of artists, convention staff, founders of new furry social media sites, and create so many other things that we probably can’t even fathom today. That young energy and inquisitive-ness (that’s a word) helps the fandom grow and prosper through generations. But, despite all of the positives that younger furs bring to the table, it’s not always perfect, and like everyone, younger furs make mistakes. They just tend to make a little bit more of an amount of mistakes than seasoned furry veterans because they're new to all this. Half of the time they’re just trying what they think is right and without proper knowledge beforehand, they end up making the wrong decisions a lot of the time. This ends up being a point of frustration for a lot of older furs, and why some may not particularly enjoy the youth of the fandom. But I see their missteps as an opportunity. An opportunity to course-correct them early and teach them how to properly interact within the fandom so they know what to do going forward. And in my experience, a lot of the mistakes that young furs make fall into very similar categories, meaning if we, as older furs, can educate them now, they will get off to a much better start in their early years in the fandom. So let’s take a quick break and when we come back, we’ll go over some of the more common mistakes that young furs tend to make. We’ll then follow up with some steps to guide them away from those mistakes, so they don’t make them again or even better: help them avoid making them in the first place. We’ll be right back.

 

So as we mentioned before we went to break, pretty much the main reason why young furries frustrate a lot of people in the fandom is due to their tendency to make a lot of mistakes. Which in all honestly makes sense; not only are they new to the furry fandom, which is already a large and complicated entity to tackle, they’re also just young in general, meaning there’s a lot of life experience that they just haven’t gone through yet. Because of this, most of the mistakes that they make aren’t done on purpose; they’re more due to a certain level of ignorance of not knowing how the furry fandom works. And when you’re young, that’s a pretty good excuse to use; many times young people do a lot of stuff that is wrong because they just don’t know any better. Now that doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences to their actions, like if I’m ignorant of a speed limit because I didn’t see any signs anywhere, I’m still going to get a ticket for doing 40 in a 25. And even though those consequences are learning experiences in and of themselves, I’m sure most young furs would rather learn the easy way rather than the hard way. Now again, this ignorance only works if you're actually doing something wrong without knowing it's wrong in the first place. Willful ignorance is an entirely different problem, that cannot be used as an excuse for doing something wrong. If someone knows what they’re doing is wrong but does it anyway, that’s a conscious decision that that individual is making, and they deserve any negative consequences that come because of it. But for the most part, that’s not the case with young furs, and a lot of the mistakes that they make are ones that, once they understand what they’re doing is wrong, their chances of doing it again go down by a lot, and providing them with proper alternatives that reach the same original goal will further increase their learning on that particular matter. So, with this in mind, let’s go over some of the common mistakes that young furs make, and provide some alternatives to help guide them through the furry fandom. And we’ll start with arguably the most common mistake that young furs make: stealing art. Stealing art basically means taking art that someone else made, and claiming it as your one. This can take many forms, and includes using other people’s characters as your own, tracing art and posting it as something that you drew originally, or doing something like taking someone’s full-fledged art piece, editing or removing their watermark, and reposting it like you made it, which is the worse that I’ve seen. But what usually ends up happening is that young furs join the fandom and see all the cool fursonas and other characters that everyone else came up with and want something to represent themselves as soon as possible. So they go on Google, search up “fursona” or “anthro animal,” click on something they like, download it, and re-upload it as their profile picture or other online identifiers. This is something we’ve probably all seen before and something that some of us, myself included, have done in the past. Google is great, but the content that it finds is not open-sourced, and unless it’s explicitly stated, every piece of art or character that you find belongs to someone else, and their property is protected under general copyright law. Now, I know copyright law is complicated and this is not a law show, and I have my own personal, and probably unpopular opinions about that kind of stuff, but regardless stealing someone else’s art or character and claiming it as your own is just that: stealing. Meaning it’s technically illegal and depending on the magnitude of the situation, you could get into some serious trouble for doing so. This includes ending up on an artist blacklist, where your name is pretty much permanently scarred, and artists will instantly deny any request you have for art. And besides, people may take months or even years to come up with every last detail of their character to make them really repent how they want to be looked at from a furry perspective, and just taking someone’s character for yourself is in some ways indirect identity theft and just not something you should ever do. The good news is that there are still a number of ways to have a profile picture or something else to represent you online without having to take someone else’s property. I’ve said it before but the lifeblood of this fandom is animals and art, so one thing you could do is draw your own character. I know there may be some fear of judgment from others if you’re not too good at drawing, but the only way to get good at something is practice, and having your profile picture evolve over time as you get better is always a cool experience to see. But if you’re like me and don’t have a lot of motivation to draw in the first place, there are a number of places to get free art bases for your character that you use and work from there. That’s something you can Google and download from the internet; as long as you’re giving the proper people credit and using the art in accordance with its terms of service, it’s a great way to quickly get your character up and running while you hammer out some of the more complicated details. Or, if all you know is what animal you want your character to be but have no other details about the actual character, here’s a little tip that I’ve seen work in the past. If you have an animal in mind, just use an actual picture of what that animal looks like in real life, and use that for your profile picture and other social media stuff. You should still credit the photographer or give some way for people to link to where you got the picture from, but this is a lot better than leaving your profile blank and much better than using someone else’s work. The next mistake that I see young furs make is wanting other people to make art for them, but not wanting to pay for it. And look I get it, young furs, especially those at or under 16, may not have a job yet. If they’re lucky, they might get an allowance for doing chores around the house, but that’s usually saved in a piggy bank somewhere as cash and can’t easily be translated into a form of payment online. So young furs will sometimes try to get people to make art for them for free, which is almost always a no-go. Remember these artists are operating a small business and deserve to be compensated for the work that they provide. On top of that , some artists make drawing furry art their sole source of income, meaning they are relying on a steady stream of paying clients to eat and pay for housing. So no, if someone is asking for payment for their artwork, you should never try to get someone to make it for you for free. But that doesn’t mean every artist actually does ask for payment. It might take a little more work to find, but newer artists just joining the fandom might offer art for free or for a very low price if they are just starting out. Now your results will definitely vary here, and you shouldn’t complain about anything you get for free, but you might get lucky and work with the next big artist in the fandom, and you can say you were one of their earliest customers that they practiced on. Also, even though you might not have money as compensation, some artists will do something called an art trade, where they will draw you something and in return, you draw something for them back. This bartering system still happens frequently in the fandom so if you have some drawing skills yourself, this could be a good way to get some art from some of the great artists that make up this community. Now as their time in the fandom grows and they start to get the lay of the land, young furs will quickly see that there are some furries that are more “popular” than others, especially online. Now this is a tough topic to try to interpret to younger furs, and excuse my unintentional alliteration there. At this time of their lives, teenagers and younger adults are still trying to find their place in this world and really gravitate towards the idea of having a large following somewhere, whether that be places like in school or online. So when they see someone with a lot of followers, their eyes light up and they make the correlation that if someone has a lot of followers, they are cool and liked and accepted, which at the end of the day is all that young furs are looking for at that stage of their lives. Unfortunately, this gravitation to a high follower count can be so strong that young furs will do anything to try and reach that status at any cost. This can be done in a lot of ways, but typically translates into a young fur impersonating a more popular furry online. They basically pretend that they are that more popular person, by using their character and image and likeness online. Now, this is pretty bad for a couple of reasons. One, you’re stealing again, and in this case, stealing a couple of things, including character, any art they may have or make, and their identity as a whole. In the real world, this is called identity theft and usually results in prison time if you're caught. Also, despite what younger furs may think, this is the worst kind of way to get attention because it will straight up not work. Everyone knows the real accounts for the actual person you’re impersonating, so trying to come off as someone you’re not will not only be super obvious, but will get your account banned almost instantly. Remember these furries are popular for a reason, and most of them worked their tails off to get to the position they are in now, as you really can’t take shortcuts to fame. (And I know I just realized that I broke my promise that I made in the trailer of this show by not making any more animal puns. But please forgive me, I say “working someone’s tail off” unironically all the time and it just slipped out while I was talking. Hopefully, you don’t unsubscribe, and I do really apologize, it won’t happen again. Except maybe it might who knows. Don’t worry about it too much). And I know it’s hard for younger furs and younger people in general to process this, but social media following isn’t everything and it doesn’t define who you are. Heck I’m still stuck at five followers on Twitter and I’ve been in this fandom for a few years now, and if I really cared about getting that number up, I would be on a following spree every day and try to make it up in volume. But again, I want people to follow me because they like my content and don’t lose sleep at night over how low that number is. It doesn’t define who I am as a person nor should it, but unfortunately, it does for a lot of people and it’s hard to get over that once that hurdle is stuck in your head. But anyway the main point I’m making here is don’t impersonate other furries just because they’re more popular than you. It won’t just work. Speaking of popularity, one thing that young furs quickly realize is that fursuits are very common to see amongst more popular furries. There seems to be some kind of relationship between furries and fursuits in that if you have a fursuit, your chances of being popular, especially online, go up by some percentage. And honestly, it makes sense; fursuits are cool to look at and some of the things that furries do in them, like dance, act, and so on really speak to the creativity that this fandom has. So it’s only natural that younger furs have an inclination to wanting a fursuit for themselves, but that can get them into some trouble rather quickly. What ends up happening is that younger furs will figure out how to order a fursuit, and then use a source of payment that isn’t theirs to fund it, and I guess I should have also mentioned this in the art section earlier because this happens with artists as well. Usually, this ends up being their parent's credit card and if something like this happens, it’s a lose-lose-lose situation. The younger fur loses because they typically don’t get to keep the art that they got through improper means, or if they do they end up on those blacklists that I mentioned earlier. The parents lose because depending on what payment method or what card their child used, they may not be able to get that money back. For a lot of parents, that thousand or more dollars spent on a fursuit could be their entire paycheck for the month, so losing that amount of money can be devastating to the financial health of the family that they’re working so hard to try and support. And the artist loses for a very similar reason. If the parents are successful in the chargeback, that artist loses out on that money that they otherwise would have made on that fursuit commission. For artists who do that full-time, that fursuit commission could have been covering their rent or food budget for that month, meaning they also can’t afford to lose out on that income for the month. It’s a bad situation all around and in all honesty, younger furs shouldn’t be looking to get a fursuit until they're much older anyway. By that time they should have a job so they can save up for one themselves, but also everyone seems to forget that when you’re young, you’re still growing, meaning the fursuit that someone makes for you will more than likely be too small for you a few short years later. That suit then becomes unusable and you’ll have to go through the entire process again to get another one, so it’s best to just wait. Remember, having a fursuit is in no way a requirement to be a furry, despite what the numbers on social media may tell you. And if you really want a suit, you could always learn the art of making one yourself. It will actually end up being cheaper in the long run, and if you get good at it, you’ll never have to pay someone to make a suit for you again and you can end up charging other people for your handiwork, so that option is always there for you as well. And finally, the last area where younger furs tend to have a little trouble with is trying to go to conventions. Since younger furs are minors, there are some extra rules that are put in place for conventions to accommodate their younger attendees. Usually, if you’re a minor or under the age of 18, you need to have a parent or legal guardian sign some form of consent form authorizing you to go. Also, in some cases, especially if you’re under 16, you might have to have a parent or legal guardian actually attend the convention with you and be with you at all times. This may seem unfair to a lot of younger furs but really, there’s little to nothing that conventions can do about this. Most conventions require insurance so if anything breaks or goes wrong, it can be paid back to wherever the convention is being hosted and in most convention insurance clauses, there are restrictions on how minors can attend. In fact, some conventions don’t even allow minors in the first place just to avoid anything extra that they have to deal with. Plus there are other factors that are just out of the control of the convention. Most of it is just for a safety aspect; conventions can gather a lot of people in a small space so making sure younger furs are safe is a top priority. Plus there are parts of most conventions that are strictly for attendees 18 and older and most those restrictions are put in place to keep younger fur from experience something that they’re just not old enough for yet. That doesn’t mean younger furs should be discouraged to attend, however. Instead of doing something like faking your identity, which I promise won’t work and will get you banned from attending cons in general, going with a parent or guardian is a lot better than not going at all. Allowing them to go with you is a great way for them to get a full understanding of one of the hobbies you’re interested in and as we discussed a few episodes ago, furry conventions are one of the best ways to meet other people in the fandom and make new friends. And I guess that kinda brings me back to why we should encourage younger furries to join and find their place in the fandom. A lot of people are interested in joining the fandom because it’s extremely inviting, especially to those who may not fit into normal circles. This fandom has always attracted the nerds, geeks, and otherwise outsides that don’t really fit in into some of society’s more mainstream factions. This is why I think it’s good that people are joining the fandom at younger and younger ages; they’re finding a group of people that will accept them for who they are and have a high chance of finding others whom they can also consider best friends or even family. But younger furs are prone to making mistakes, and if you are a younger fur listening to this, don’t feel too bad for some of the mistakes you make. I used some pretty extreme examples here but a vast majority of furries, young and old, are prone to making mistakes a lot less serious than some of the ones I described. The thing is, the younger you are, the less that’s expected of you, so you have a little more wiggle room to experiment and see what works and what doesn’t. And hey, if you get caught doing something you’re not supposed to, be honest about your mistake, apologize, and do the right thing next time. Again it’s hard for people to blame you for what you don’t know, just don’t try to lie or cover up your mistakes; they eventually will be found out it will come back to bite you. And if you have a question, it’s always better to ask so you know you’ll be doing the right thing. Speaking of which, to those who are listening that are older furries or those who’ve been in the fandom for some time, it’s up to us to answer these questions with patience and respect. Remember, even if we joined the fandom in our late teens or early twenties or even later, we’ve all been that inquisitive kid trying to find our way in the world. And most of the time, when we made mistakes we weren’t trying to be malicious, we just didn’t know better. But now that we do, it’s up to us to help guide the next generation of the furry fandom. And that doesn’t mean yelling or berating them when they do end up making a mistake. Show them how to do what’s right instead of belittling them for what’s wrong. I’m excited for this fandom to keep growing and from what I’ve seen, there’s a myriad of young talented furries in this fandom who will undoubtedly grow up to be the next great furry content creators, artists, and even fursuit makers. And without them, there would be no future for the furry fandom, which is why in order for this fandom to continue growing, we need to guide and support one of the most important groups in the fandom: the young furs.

 

Alright, that’s it for this episode of Furry, Explained! Thank you so much for tuning in and listening, I really hope you enjoyed it and maybe learned a few new things today. As always if you want to continue the conversation about younger members of the furry fandom, or have any other feedback for the show, make sure to find and follow me on Twitter. I’m @FinnThePanther and a link to my Twitter is down in the show notes along with any other of the references I used for this episode. If you do like the show but don’t know how to support it, well the best thing you can do is to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts! If you’re on iTunes or Apple Podcasts, make sure to give the show a rating and a review as well. You can also tell people about the show, and I’d greatly appreciate it if you did that as well. Thank you in advance for doing so and we’ll be back next week for another episode of Furry, Explained, but until then, stay wild out there. Peace.

Intro
Who are Young Furries
How to Guide Them Through the Fandom
Outro