Furry Fandom and Thinking of Others

I’m reading this book called Improv Wisdom for a class Kit and I are taking, and it’s about applying the rules of improv to your life. One of the chapters is “take care of each other,” and talks about how improvisers always have to know what everyone else in the troupe is doing; not only that, they work best when they set up other people for success.

In my recent article for Uncanny Magazine, I compared furry fandom to a “massively multiplayer shared world in which all the players are continuously adding to that world.” Shared worlds are places which work best when the participants help each other succeed rather than just focusing on their own goals–it makes the world richer when you take into account what everyone else is doing, and the most successful shared worlds have had that element of cooperation around them.

Furry fandom places so much emphasis on creativity that I think we’re all predisposed to look outward at others. When you meet someone in the fandom, what are the first things you ask? “What’s your species? What’s your character?” And after that, “What makes you unique? What makes you YOU?” This might be something like, “I’m a carnivorous zebra,” or “I’m an artist and here’s what I draw.” But the focus is on telling each other about ourselves.

I’ve met exceptions to this, but the nature of the fandom as a fan-driven world leads us to find out more about each other and be interested in each other. That attitude carries over into other areas; you can see it in the charity donations from conventions, or the way furries reach out to help others in need (whether monetarily online or as costumed performers). Not that other groups don’t do that, of course, but in other fandoms I see them mostly reach out to others in the fandom, less often to people outside.

Anyway. Just a random Sunday thought as I’m enjoying yet another furry convention. And another thought: Why not take a moment to look outside yourself today and see if you can do something to help someone else be successful? Mom would be the obvious choice, but it could be anyone at all, friend or no, furry or no. Give it a shot and if you feel like reporting back, leave a comment. :)

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