Story of a Former Alt-Furry: Clouded by Clout

by Dogpatch Press Staff

This guest post was submitted for anonymous posting on the guest’s behalf. That’s a community access service offered by this site. The story gives details about hate groups that can help readers with similar experience know it’s true, and can put the poster at risk of backlash. Part of such stories that often goes unspoken is the extreme abuse that such posts attract. That’s why it’s important to offer community access service, even for some stories that may have scary information that may be impossible to tell openly.

Sadly, abuse often comes from people who claim to be allies, as well as from enemies — and in cases targeting this site, they often fall for lying and baiting from bad faith sources. The knee-jerk reactions come from acting tribalist and putting agreement above finding out what’s going on. It may gain clout for the group but make you less informed.

“Perhaps we need to spend slightly less time asking whether we agree with, or approve of, a text, a piece, an experience, and ask what it does; or, better yet, what it might do? There is a power in simply asking “hmm, what’s going on here?” – @L0v3byt3

If you find the post valuable, be aware of abuse that comes with hosting it, not to gain clout that others fight for, but just to offer the service (since 2014). Of course nobody owes debate or an audience for bad faith and it’s fair to simply block it, but the post also describes how hate groups can be reinforced by attacking them – and a different solution.

To learn more about how hate groups seek to get attacked for publicity, check out the Behind The Bastards podcast about George Lincoln Rockwell, the American pioneer of those manipulative tactics. – Patch

Hate groups prey on loneliness.

I want to preface this by saying that I understand if you do not want to listen to the words of someone who used to be part of something horrible. What I have brought on myself and my reputation is nobody’s fault but my own and saying sorry after the fact may seem like an afterthought or a way to staunch the bleeding. What I am offering you is an insight into how these insidious groups like Alt-Furry work from an insider’s perspective, and how to avoid them if you feel unsure of yourself, or help others avoid falling into the same trap.

Since the beginning of human history, when we banded together in tribal groups, feeling like you belonged offered you a sense of safety. If you didn’t have the charisma or the skills to start your own group, you joined one, or tried. A sense of community makes you feel useful. It makes you feel like people need you around. Sometimes, this is so intoxicating, especially to people who have been alone for quite some time, that you overlook things that others in your group do.

After all, they are your friends, right? It’s okay for people to be imperfect. If you point out that what they are doing is wrong, they won’t want to be your friends anymore. You will have to be alone and afraid again. Unfortunately, this feeling of fear is sometimes what drives us to turn a blind eye to things that hurt the people around us. It just gives you company when the ship begins to sink. Anything is better than dying alone, even dying together.

Taking advantage of this feeling is the core of how many hateful groups operate, and Alt-Furry is no exception. By convincing you that others hate you, and are always out to get you, they separate you from the world and trap you into a bubble. This is not to say that they are master hypnotists or that they force people to act the way they do. Instead, they are master manipulators, and nudge people who are vulnerable emotionally into doing the wrong thing. They convince you that they are your friends not because they like you specifically, but because everyone else -hates you-, and so they are the only friends you will ever make.

You have every chance in the world to walk away, but they convince you that doing so will only make you alone again. This is how they got me.

They entice with a sense of belonging.

My type may be just like you, or someone you know. I have skills in doing things that furries enjoy. I like to draw and play music and I am pretty good at both. However, I do not have very much self esteem. I was very overweight during my earlier years and had a family that was very strict in what they wanted me to become and do. I grew up a person who needed the validation of others because I never got it, and the things I liked and what I wanted to do could go to hell for all I cared. All I wanted was to be part of a group, people who liked me and told me I was doing the right thing, even if it meant I had no individuality.

Without sounding presumptuous, I feel like I can say that there are probably many furries who feel the same way that I did. This makes you a prime target for evil groups like Alt-Furry and the first type of person they go after.

The problem began with the self, as most problems do. When I first joined Twitter, I saw many posts from certain furries about “white man” this and “Republican” that, which I took as personal attacks seeing as how I was both. My life’s goal up to that point, to fit in, had been a very selfish endeavor. So of course, when people had something negative to say about a group I was a part of, I took it personally. That group was my identity. It was everything to me. Having to analyze or be critical of the group as a whole meant that the people in that group would not like me anymore. They would say I was not allowed to belong. I would be alone, my biggest fear. My music and my art didn’t matter, because it wasn’t for the group’s benefit. I could never get popular by doing that, I thought. However, if I did good things for the group, they would see me as a hero.

So, blindly, I would go to bat for them. If I called all the liberals hateful and made fun of them, my Republican friends would all vouch for me, right? It didn’t matter if I was ratio’d, because I was doing the right thing for the group. This willingness to toss yourself on the fire to warm the masses, so to speak, is one of the top traits that will draw Alt-Furry to you. This is an important point to note.

They manipulate and groom potential recruits.

I have spoken to many of my fellow friends who left the group, and the story was always the same. A member would DM them on Twitter after seeing them make an opinion post about something and receiving backlash over it. They never went to Alt-Furry. Alt-Furry found them. They constantly search and seek out people to recruit, and this was confirmed to me when I was asked to join their Discord server. Inside of it, there was a channel specifically tailored to finding furries with “unpopular opinions” (read: uneducated bullshit) where the leader or one of the moderating team would say “Should we welcome them in?” At the time I thought it meant they cared about helping people who were just like me, but I unfortunately realized too late that it was instead a predator sniffing out bleeding prey.

As time went by I saw a few pretty bad opinions in the chat, most of which have been rightfully widely spread by critics for the public to view. I shook them off, for the good of the group. At this point Alt-Furry had convinced me that everyone who wasn’t an Alt-Furry hated me because they were just hateful people, bad people. Of course, this was wrong, they hated us because WE were the hateful ones. If I had begun to point that out, however, they would shun me.

They had convinced me that because I allied myself with them, nobody else would ever want to be my friend again. So because I didn’t trust in my own skills to make people like me, I doubled down on doing bad things for the people who said they did. This, in turn, created a vicious cycle of me separating myself from my friends and falling deeper and deeper into Alt-Furry. This was exactly what they wanted and exactly what they planned.

Attacking enemies gains clout in the group.

For my sterling service, if you could call it that, I was promoted within the group rather quickly. Here’s why. Back when the Charlottesville riots were brand new and hot off the presses, Twitter incorporated an algorithm into its report system that would automatically ban people robotically for saying certain strings of words if you reported the tweet. Some of you may remember a number of high profile accounts being banned then for seemingly no reason. This was because of Alt-Furry. Seeing a chance to capitalize, I researched what these words were and tried different combinations until I could get people banned for a single tweet. Strings like “Kill all ___,” “___ needs to die,” etc, proved themselves to be the key to abusing Twitter’s system.

Of course, I was the one who discovered this, so I was lauded through Alt-Furry for such stupid things as reporting someone for a Tweet made years ago saying something like “Every spider needs to die” and watching their account go down in flames, even if it was only for a little while. They even made a separate server where I had a direct line with the server owners, where they would send me tweets and ask if it fit the algorithm. One of them even said I “had the Midas touch.”

Finally, I had found my group. I was on top of the world. I was even part of their secret hit squad. I finally belonged.

But as time went on, I began to have doubts. At this point I was a blue-ranked member, which meant that I was one rank underneath the moderators. I had brought it up with the leaders at once point during a voice call that it seemed like even though they were billing themselves as free speech, only one type of talk was prevalent through the chat. Right-wing, sometimes very extremist views.

I was quickly assured that any leftists were “welcome,” they just refused to show up because they were hateful and could never listen to opinions other than theirs. I found this odd, because every time I had seen a leftist join, they were quickly piled on and shouted down by everyone else, which the leaders would just call losing in the court of public opinion. Even the few times I would step in and say “Let’s hear them out,” the other members would say things like “Wow, you too?” as if I had never been part of the group at all for daring to go against the flow. Exactly what I was always afraid of.

They like you if they can use you, but they really care about gaining power.

I decided to withdraw from political views for a while afterwards and try to peddle my art and my music because, I had noticed up to this point, I was hardly making any at all. Everything I was doing was for Alt-Furry. But when the time came to post my things, I did not receive nearly as many likes and retweets from my so called “friends,” because it had nothing to do with politics. It had nothing to do with the group. In fact, all they ever asked or cared about was “who I banned today.” This is when I began to feel the inkling of realization tingling in the back of my skull and I laid awake at night asking myself a lot of questions.

Those questions were answered one day when something happened that even I could not ignore. Someone many of you know, named Foxler, had begun making waves and doing interviews online when the media blitz about Nazi Furries was happening. Unfortunately I had been extremely ignorant of who he was and what he stood for up until this point, and this was the first I heard of it, because up until then he was a Purple-level member (moderator) and many people seemed to respect him. I was one of the first ones to speak up.

I said that we could not allow Nazis into our group, because then we would become a hateful group of ideologists just like the people we purported to hate. I was instantly accused of being for “the other side,” which I did not understand because I thought the only side we had taken was one of “no censorship.”

And if people who were against Nazis were “the other side,” what did that make us?

Breaking the spell.

That is when something very important happened to me: someone reached out. After I made a few tweets about not understanding why this had happened, I received a DM. It was from someone from what they would call the “other side.” They handed me a pair of “They Live” glasses and showed me everything I had been lied to about, everything Alt-Furry tried to hide.

The leader had written a book where he was a soldier in the Third Reich. Another top moderator had commissioned art of his babyfur sona wearing a Nazi uniform and saying “Squeak Heil.” They hid these things from everyone, they shared them other places I would never go but never in the server I was in. In horror I realized my mistake, but at that point it was too late. People had written me off as a Nazi and placed me on a blocklist, not because I had different views from them, but because I had been tricked into helping actual Nazis.

I was sad, and I was angry. But more than being angry at them, I was angry at myself. I had perfectly good skills and they were completely wasted by the fact that these people had lured me in with a false promise of friendship with the actual intent to recruit me. All they ever liked me for was my willingness to put myself on the fire for them, to show them what a good friend I was.

Luckily for me personally, this did not mold me into the soldier they were hoping for. Unfortunately the damage had already been done. After a giant fight with the moderators where they had dared to use the phrase “if you were really our friend,” I left the server that I had just dedicated the last few months of my life to. My group of friends that I gave everything up for, all gone, and I had nobody else to go back to.

This really opened my eyes to the extent of the damage they had done to me personally for their own selfish gains. I deleted my Twitter account, realizing nobody would ever take my word in good faith again (and they had every right not to). So, thanks to my own hubris, I now no longer had my group, or my outlet for my own personal things. Alt-Furry used me and tossed me out when they were done.

However, unlike many others who they have hurt or recruited in the past, I fought back.

Fixing the damage.

After reading that several alt-right Discords were being disbanded, I decided to dust off the one thing they ever wanted me for, and got to writing an email to Discord support. The weapon they created was turned back on them, and the Alt-Furry Discord server is no more.

While the more hardcore members have congregated elsewhere, their numbers are severely impacted, and their movement is draining by the day because they have begun to be more upfront about what they really are. The second I finally began believing in my own individuality, not only did I break free of Alt-Furry, it helped to tear their entire system down. It made me realize how utterly weak the group I had clung to for a sense of strength truly was. It also made me realize how strong I could be.

This experience made me learn that the power of the individual is more important than many people may think. I implore every person on any social media to be careful for groups like these, to love yourself instead of letting someone else define what you are and loving that idea.

As I said earlier, maybe you are just like I was. Someone who is unsure of themselves, someone who thinks they are not worth loving. You are worth it. You are strong. You can fight for what you believe in, and you will make true friends doing so. If you fight for yourself, you can be proud. You can look upon your accomplishments and see how the world is better than when you came into it.

If you fight for others, you are nothing but the gun. A weapon. When you are out of ammo, they will toss you aside, and all that you will have created is destruction and hurting other people. Self-hatred is blood in the water for people who need you to use them as a crutch in order to function.

Hate grows with groups, but one person can be the antidote. 

Remember, what ultimately saved me was the fact that someone reached out. If you see someone who is making hateful posts, or having doubts about themselves, it is okay to reach out to them and ask them why they feel that way. They will sometimes respond negatively, and that is okay. Sometimes people do not want to change.

But for every 100 times someone rebukes you, there can be one who will sit and listen. One person who you can convince that the world is a place where they can be their own person and people will love them, as long as they are not being hateful towards others. And that one person will try 100 times and find one person, and that person will do the same, and so on until speaking to one person created the seeds for a new force in the fight for equality and justice.

Thank you for listening and please, use this information to make sure you or nobody else ends up the same way. We love you. Don’t mistake hatred for yourself as hatred for other people.

– Submitted by Anonymous

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