I understand where you’re coming from here, and though I don’t agree with it, I appreciate you taking the moment to come to me and respectfully lay out your request. I understand that the way “tags” work on this particular website can lead to a feeling of “this is our space” and “we have a claim to what is said here,” but I’m afraid, for most things, I don’t agree. If I write something disparaging of feminism, or a particular religious action, or anything of the like—things that many people may hold sacred—I will tag it as such, because that is what I’m talking about, and that is where it belongs.
And many people who browse these tags are not members of the group, and could range anywhere from genuinely curious to outright disdainful. For the record, when I browse things like “otherkin,” “fictionkin,” and “transethnic,” I am not doing it specifically to mock and scorn people, I am doing it because it’s an aspect of our blogging/sharing/special snowflake culture that I find incredibly fascinating, and also rather disturbing.
I am a writer (in that that is how I make my living), and one of the most important parts of my job is to stay on top of things that are happening culturally, and how our generation is changing and becoming distinct—looking for the markers that make us who we are. And it is undeniable that a byproduct of our ability (and desire) to share our entire lives, our minutia, and our emotions with the world at large, is to have an overinflated sense of self-importance. What we do is “special,” or so we’ve been taught since we were in kindergarden, and online communities can only serve to reinforce this.
Usually, this manifests itself in pretty benign ways. There are people who have themselves spread across dozens of social media platforms, people who microblog every minute of their day, or people who leave no personal detail of themselves or loved ones unexposed—for them, the desire to share, reveal, and be observed is too alluring. And though we can get fed up with constantly hearing about what kind of sandwich our neighbor ate this afternoon, there is certainly nothing inherently harmful in the practice.
But then you come further down the line, to people who have buried themselves in online communities and discussions to the point of—by choice or by default—losing touch with reality completely. You have people my parents’ age claiming to be a different ethnicity inside, twenty-somethings who insist that they have several people—and a few animals—living inside of them. You have people who insist that even saying the word “people” or “human being” is inherently offensive, and will go on the attack against the offender for being, and I’m not making this up, “speciesist.”
Of course, this is the kind of thing that we expect to find in the darker corners of internet chat rooms and forums, the kind of affirmation of delusion that we would be afraid a young, impressionable teenager might fall into. It’s taking someone who already clearly has a tenuous grasp on real and imagined, and reinforcing that belief to the point where it becomes a politicized issue. And that politicization is where this becomes truly dangerous, because these groups aren’t existing on their own personal plane, or in a private, unreachable corner. It is on a very popular website, where people of all backgrounds and of all disadvantages are together.
And when the struggles of these delusions are being compared to that of trans* people, or an ethnicity is being referred to as something that can be an “identity” one can assume, it is dangerous. It is offensive, in the most base sense of the word. To say that me not accepting the idea that someone is a fictional character inside is in any way akin to me not believing a FTM is really a man is absurd, and the lowest form of self-righteous currency. Slinging mud like that in an effort to gain traction and validity for a movement based in fantasy is nothing short of repugnant. And claiming that an “identity”—like that of a black woman, when you are a white woman—is one that needs to be respected, and that to not respect it would to be racist, would be laughable if it weren’t so counterproductive to the real fighting of oppression that was going on.
If someone truly believes that they are a cat, or a car, or a silkworm, or a fictional character—they need help, and quickly. It is something that needs to be worked on daily so the grasp on reality doesn’t become increasingly tenuous. The last thing that person needs is to be reinforced in their delusion to the point that they no longer understand what reality is, or the difference between them and someone who is undergoing hormone therapy.
But the thing is, I don’t believe that most of these people really believe it. I believe, despite arguable evidence to the contrary, that they are doing it because they want to feel different, oppressed, victimized, ostracized, and somehow righteous in whatever anger or resentment they have towards society. They want to be special, and they want to get in on what they perceive are the benefits of being someone classified as a “marginalized group.” And they clearly are not above using very loaded terms and taking the struggles of trans* people and other groups to further that cause.
So in the end, if I choose to talk about it more, I will always tag it under exactly what I’m referring to. As much as you may find my dissent offensive, I find the very principles of what these people are doing to be offensive. So I suppose, in the Tumblr world, we cancel each other out.