Just under 3 years ago the BDSM community was a very differnet place. There has always been discussion boards and chat rooms. We could always connect via mySpace and Facebook, but there was never a centralized social network. Until FetLife came into being.
I joined the site when it was still in its infancy (before a lot of the features you see today) and thought it was a nice place to network and get to know people. Just as with everything it doesn’t stay perfect for long.
This isn’t a gripe session about FetLife, I’ll let you know now; but it is a wakeup call for everyone thinking that FetLife is the end all, be all solution to community. Because it’s not.
FetLife, for as long as it remains a free community will always be the place I recommend novices go to lurk in the groups and feed off of information that they get there. It is the largest no-nonesense group of people I’ve seen. Even collarme or the others can compare to the amount of valid advice available from real people. There’s a bunch of garbage too, but I’m getting to that later.
The ‘famous’ people are members of FetLife. You can easily have a conversation with John Warren, Laura Antoniou, Midori and other BDSM educators. Where else can you contact them within a matter of mouse clicks? This makes them more available, reachable and real. Hopefully it brings them down to our level instead of the pedestal we tend to put authors and speakers in our community. After all, they are people just like us and have been right where you are at one time or another.
I enjoy that there are is a wide variety of people on FetLife. Everyday I could go on the site and find a new fetish I had never heard of and then the groups related to it so that I could learn all about what makes it hot for these people. I can find things that I find exciting and know that I’m not the only one.
This feeling of not being alone has helped the novice more freely embrace this part of their lifes and desires. I think that the internet helped blossom curiosity, but FetLife has helped bring those curious together. Nowhere else does this happen with as much success.
Now, with every rather open community we have to deal with a few people that spoil the bunch. People try to get around it with classifieds groups. They still approach me on a weekly basis even if my status says engaged and collared. You can’t get away from those who would want your for themselves. We each have to learn how to handle these people, either with respectful declinations or ignoring them outright. Personal preference wins this one.
We also have the people who like to slander others. They take what little they may know of someone from group threads or their profile and ‘broadcast’ that this person is horrible and they should stay away from them at all costs. They typically are the type to post this person’s email address, other personal and identifying information and are clearly out to ‘get revenge’ for something that isn’t very clear. I know, being a group owner of 2 very large groups I’ve had to deal with several of these faceflow types. It’s never appropriate to drag someone’s name in the mud no matter how well you know them. Let their actions and words speak for themselves.
Lastly I’d like to talk about the Holier than Thou type that seems to only confuse the novices. These are the types that say, in a variety of ways, that the way they do BDSM is better than someone elses and are quick to say that you must not be submissive enough because xyz. It’s so counter-educational and against what I believe and teach on Submissive Guide. Every single person who engages in BDSM is correct in how they engage in it. I love variety and enjoy hearing about what works for one person (knowing it won’t for me). It’s what makes community so wonderful to be a part of.
FetLife has changed the community atmosphere. It really has. Better or worse is personal opinion, but I know that for me it has a lot going for it. As it ages I think it will get more refined with the quality instead of just quantity. I’ll be there to see it age. Hopefully you will join me there.
PS: A few of you probably have a more negative view of what goes on with FetLife politics. I don’t tend to get involved in those and my groups are very run of the mill, safe and don’t tend to stir the pot so to speak. I can’t say one way or another how fair or unfair FetLife democracy is because my experience with them when I needed help was swift and fair. Your mileage may vary and I’d welcome comments if you’d like to send them my way. just don’t think that you can sway my views.