Who Runs the Internet? Fur

The IT industry is full of people involved in this unique worship of anthropomorphic animal characters. For IRL, Dylan Reeve meets four furries to find out why that might be.

“Furries Rule the Internet.” It’s a familiar refrain among IT nerds Twitter: and: elsewherebut there’s definitely some real truth to it, and that’s even in Aotearoa.

The Furry fandom is a subculture centered around anthropomorphic animal characters. For the most part, the subculture sees people engaging online in message boards and groups like any other fan. Just as Swifties gather online to share images, stories, remixes, and merchandise dedicated to the wonders of Taylor Swift, furries gather online to share conversations, media, and content about, say, 6-foot-tall bipedal wolves.

Most outsiders, if they know about furries at all, assume that the community revolves around more than an obscure fight. This is simply not the case, according to both insiders and those who have written about the phantom However, it’s a prejudice that furries are well aware of, and means that many don’t feel comfortable about taking part.

Ember Fox, a purple cyberpunk Fennec fox who does some server maintenance. (Photo by @slideruleskunk on Twitter)

Despite the low public profile of furry fans, it is often assumed, and anecdotally true, that IT experts are overrepresented among community members. As such, there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of furries behind the scenes within communications and technology companies around the world. Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon. it’s likely that all of the world’s biggest tech names have wool in key roles.

Keep it brief In one of the 2019 tweets“All modern communication would collapse if about 50 people, most of them furry, decided to turn off their pagers for a day.” Or, in another tweet“I guarantee you the internet would collapse in the most horrific way if all the furs in the world hacked Thanos.”

Another last tweetIn response to the photo of dozens of furs together during the flight, he imagined a different disaster scenario. “.

Things may not be so definitive in New Zealand, but we’d still know about it if we lost all our furs in a freak accident, said MJ*, a cloud computing consultant and furry convention organizer. “It’s definitely going to have a noticeable impact,” he told me over the phone. “You will definitely find a lot [IT] companies with large deficits in some departments.”

According to MJ, there are even furries in senior management and c-suite roles in prominent New Zealand corporations.

H*, a software developer, “half degree in computer science, diploma in IT technical support and software engineering”, suggested that fans are widely represented in the New Zealand IT sector. “I have yet to meet a large IT-based company where at least one of us doesn’t work,” they remarked in an encrypted audio chat. “Often in high positions.”

Amber Fox*, a principal software engineer based in Pittsburgh, told me the situation is similar in the US, but on a larger scale. “There are a lot of furries who have very different positions in the tech industry,” he told me in a video call. “Furries exist throughout the hierarchy of the tech industry. A friend of mine is a CTO at a company, and when I worked at a university, I was a manager there and had a number of students who were furry.”

MJ’s fursona is a large, not particularly furry dragon. (Image courtesy)

MJ has been working in New Zealand IT for over a decade and now helps businesses navigate the complex world of cloud computing. Most of her friends in the furry community know what she’s up to, but due to sexualized societal perceptions, the same isn’t true the other way around. “It’s something I wouldn’t hide or deny if it came out. [but] I don’t share it out of place,” he clarified. “A lot of it is because I’m consulting, and there’s definitely a certain ‘corporate persona.’

H is similar. “It’s not something I would normally mention in my professional life,” they explained. “People in IT tend to have a vague idea of ​​what communities look like online, but there’s a perception of fandom that sometimes isn’t true.”

Negative perceptions of the furry community are often influenced by some exaggerated mainstream portrayals, in which the phantom is often portrayed as little more than a fetish community. One of the most famous examples was in 2003 CSI: episode “Fur and Hate” where fandom was believed to be little more than massive fur-suit orgies.

H’s fursona is a black and blue domestic cat with heterochromia, that is, different colored eyes. (Image via @JaybeeSFW on Twitter)

This is completely untrue according to the furries I spoke to. Instead, they describe an inclusive and welcoming online community where they feel safe. “There’s a lot of queer people in Fando. One, because it tends to be a very accepting space, and two, because it allows people to experiment with their identity in a safe way,” explained H.

Final*, a systems engineer for an Internet service provider, explained the origins of furry communities online and their value to their members; “We created our own spaces and sites to gather and be in our communities. It can be safe spaces that we can moderate to make sure hateful people don’t have a voice on the platform. And we can keep it safe, especially for members of the fandom who are younger.”

But why are so many furries working in IT? There are no definitive answers, but the inherently online nature of phantom probably has something to do with it, according to most furries I spoke to. “Being part of the furry fandom, you spend quite a bit of time on the Internet connecting with other like-minded people,” Final suggested. “You spend a lot of time online, you get an understanding [computing] and then you go and make a career of it.”

FInal’s fursona are a fictional species of their own design called Aliudae. (Image via @DSteverArt on Twitter)

“Fandom is also a very friendly place for queer and neurodivergent people, and there are people in tech, too, because a lot of people like us prefer to work with computers than people,” explained Amber Fox.

This strong connection between the fur community and IT also provides networking opportunities for furries. “Most of my acquaintances who work in the IT sector, I originally met them through their fans,” H. told me.

“I can’t go to the conference [the IT] the area without it effectively ends up being a fur meeting of some description,” MJ said. “That’s literally how I made connections for different aspects of the job. And people will often post about jobs. I’ve recommended people I know from fans for jobs and vice versa.”

For Amber Fox, the idea that her next job could be through a furry connection is very realistic. “I went on to interview for a number of different jobs through furry contacts. The job I’m currently working on was through a traditional recruiter, but my shortlist for other places I’d like to work includes mostly furry people,” she said. “So probably though the furry community would be the most likely vector if I was going to transition from my current role.”

So is it true that the internet is ruled by furries? Perhaps, there is definitely some truth behind the idea, worship is well represented behind the scenes of the IT world. But don’t worry, we are all in safe paws.

*All furs in this story are referred to either by their fursona names or initials to protect their privacy.

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