The fear of exclusion feeds directly back to my analogy. If I try to exclude you, then someone might try to exclude me, so I'll force myself to accept you. That also ties into a post I made sometime in the past - most furries are 'in it' simply for the fact that it IS an all-inclusive fandom. For the "Boo hoo, I'm an outcast in high school" kinds of people, furry's a friggin godsend.
-- Pretentious Furry-Hating Fuck-tard
Perhaps, for some, Furry-dom is indeed a "friggin godsend". Well, guess what: I don't care! My response would be: "Welcome to our fandom, fellow Furry". Now, of course, it's also these Furry hating fuck-tards who accuse us Furries of "hating human beings" because many of us like animals (as if these were mutually exclusive). Yet, who here is acting with the greater compassion and humanity: the Furries who offer that high school outcast acceptance, and friendship -- perhaps the first this person has received in a long time -- or this elitist dick who damns Furry-dom for that very inclusiveness? Oh, sweet irony!
Some teens become Goths, Jedi's, Witches, Satanists, or whatever, for the same reason. It is quite true that kids right up to high school graduation form social hierarchies. Well, you can't have a hierarchy with everyone at the top. And kids can be spectacularly cruel to one another. Life at the bottom can be hell. Sometimes, it isn't even the child's fault. Daddy gets transferred by the company, the family is uprooted to a new city where they know no one. The child is sent to a school where he's "the new kid" who doesn't fit in with any established clique. Regardless of his social standing in his old school, he starts all over again at the bottom. Indeed, if there is a worst time for any family to be uprooted, it is when they have 12 -- 14 year old children. The transition from grade school to Jr. High, frequently involving a whole new school, is when that kid most needs a circle of dependable friends.
So that 14 year old boy who's not so good at sports, who's always picked last and can be found sitting alone in a corner of the school cafeteria may decide that he really wasn't meant to have this clumsy body and a face full of zits. No, he's really a sleek, proud, powerful alpha male wolf. He spends his Friday nights on-line, role playing his "true self" (because none of the "cool" kids ever invite him to join them). Or that "homely" girl who's behind schedule for prettying up, who believes herself to be a powerful witch who could cast some really destructive spells, except that the Rede prohibits that sort of behaviour. Calling them "pathetic losers", is just one more act of thoughtless cruelty. They can already get their fill of that from their school-mates; they don't need it from you, you asshole.
Would you prefer to insist that he see himself as he really is? He's this gawky, pizza-faced, crack-voiced, unpopular misfit who's the target of all the rest of the cool and not-so-cool kids. Until that day comes when one of the "princes" of his school pushes him into his locker just once too often, or the captain of the football team demands his lunch money outside the schoolyard just once more, until he snaps and shows up at school the next morning with daddy's hunting rifle, a pocket full of magazines, and a couple dozen of scores to settle. If it was your kid going to that school, would you be so damn insistent that Mr. Dork stay grounded in reality? Really? Fact is: there is nothing wrong with Mr. Dork. He will out grow the need for his fantasy self with coming maturity. As for the fantasy itself, he could have made other choices: Otherkin, witch, wizard, worlock, vampyre, changeling, Jedi, etc. There are other fandoms as well: Goths, Trekkies, Star Wars. It isn't Furry-dom's fault that parents can't teach their damn brats to respect others. Raising your kids isn't our job.
As for those who are socially handicapped, this may very well persist into adulthood. Again, the reason for this is quite often Asperger's Syndrome. He certainly didn't ask to be an Asperger's patient. Characteristics of Asperger's include obsessions with strange interests, monomaniacal collecting, peculiar mannerisms, social disadvantages caused by an impairment in interpreting body language, taking statements "computer literal". It's very dangerous to tell the Asperger's child to: "Run along and play in the traffic". The "normal" child will get the message: "Stop bothering me for awhile". The Asperger's child will actually do it. When pulled out of harm's way, and asked why he would do something so foolish, or violate parental rules, he will innocently look up and say: "But, mom, you told me to!" He won't understand the subsequent spanking he's likely to receive. Another characteristic is persistent feelings of alienation. He doesn't feel quite "human". Fandoms were just made for these folks. Pathetic losers? Consider this: Asperger's patients are way above average in intelligence. The greatest inventor of the second half of the 19th century was Nikola Tesla. He had every indicator of Asperger's in spades. Don't be so quick to laugh at the "geek": he's probably a whole lot more intelligent than you are.
Now, it's unfortunate that some of these folks may lack social skills to the point of unemployability. It's also unfortunate that success in a corporate environment depends far more heavily on political skills than professional competence. I've known quite a few executives who would never put someone in for a promotion for the very reason that they don't want to lose this person who's doing the job better than anyone else who's held the position. Indeed, the highly competent "geek" often becomes the target of office politics because of that competence. Of course, he's unaware of those office politics -- and how the game is played -- until he, once again, finds himself unemployed.
So where would you prefer this "loser" go? Into a geeky fandom where he finds acceptance, and, perhaps, an opportunity to learn some social skills, perhaps to discover hidden talents he didn't know he had, or into an Al Qaeda sleeper cell where he will also receive acceptance -- along with bomb-making instruction and indoctrination into pure hate?
To be sure, these are extreme examples; that does not change the fact that there are lots of cults, "movements", organizations, that specifically prey on these people. They could do a helluvalot worse than joining a fandom that's all about fantasy creatures and animal people. Furthermore, it's a question of simple compassion. Denying social misfits and inept geeks their geeky fandoms is not going to magically "fix" them. All it will do is add to their social isolation and their misery. Besides, once you get to know them, they're cool people. I can't say the same about Fur-haters.
The outstanding quality of Furry-dom is the friendliness, the lack of embarrassment over public displays of affection: the hugging and skritching. About the only other folks who are like this are the Baha'i's. A common feature that you will often see at Furry web sites are forums where Furries can post to ask for advice on personal matters. Now, can you imagine what would happen if you asked for such advice on, let's say, a NASCAR fan site? You would probably be ridiculed mercilessly and told to stop bothering them with your personal problems. They wouldn't care, whereas the concern Furries show for one another is genuine. These are good things.
In conclusion: grow the fuck up fergodssake! You graduated from high school a long time ago. High time you started acting like it.