Warning signs that a were site, group, or individual may be unhealthy

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I urge you to carefully think about whether a person, site or group is exhibiting these unhealthy behaviors. And if you look this over and realize that _you_ are doing these things... please stop and think about it.

-- Coyote

If you or someone else is doing this stuff, it may be a warning sign. Don't do this stuff, and know that you don't have to put up with other people doing it. You deserve better than that.

-- Savage

Warning signs that a were site or group or individual may be unhealthy:

1. Grandiose fantasy titles or claims that are used to play one-upmanship or power games. "I am Lord BlackToothDarkClaw, the mighty p-shifting alpha of the Death Star Pack. Fear me!" The subtler version of this is "I am a True Were, and you guys aren't unless you do what I say." Any claim of having special powers or secret knowledge that nobody else has should be considered with skepticism. Any claim of having the "One True Way" of being a "True Were" should be questioned.

2. Advocating hatred or violence, or exaggerating the dangers and thrills of being a were. Ex, hating or hunting vampires, or having to protect one's self against "were hunters", or against secret government conspiracies to capture "real weres". Living in a live roleplaying game based on the X Files. More subtle but just as serious a warning sign is active hatred of any other groups including normal humans and furries. The "us against them" mentality taken to unhealthy or paranoid extremes.

3. Lack of critical thinking or basic reality checks. Any and all possibly supernatural experiences are eagerly accepted as such without a single question, and maybe expanded on with wild theories that are backed by "facts" straight out of popular fiction or games or Hollywood movies. Any attempt at rational questioning is met with anger or hurt feelings.

4. Too much skepticism. It's equally bad to jump on people harshly just for believing in the supernatural or for sharing an experience that they think might be supernatural. Critical thinking is good, making fun of people for sharing and believing is bad.

5. Disrespect as the default way to treat people. If newcomers are verbally abused or otherwise disrespected instead of being treated with normal adult courtesy, this is a warning sign. Of course if you are rude to people they might be rude to you in turn, but if you start out being polite and are treated like dirt, this is a major warning sign. The subtler version of this is the idea that you have to "earn" the right to be treated with normal courtesy and respect. Until then, you are a lowly recruit that anyone may abuse, especially the high status "alphas". No one should have to tolerate abuse as the price of acceptance into a community. You can say "no" and walk away.

6. Rigid system of social status, with "alphas" on top conspicuously exercising power over others. Some people are comfortable with this system and consent to being submissive to the alphas. Other people don't consent to being submissive to anyone and feel abused because the alphas want to play non consensual power games with them. Power over people games should be played only with consenting adults. If somebody tries to be *your* alpha without your consent, that's not cool.

7. Questioning any of the leaders or the rules is not permitted. The rules exist because the boss says so. Any attempt to ask questions or suggest improvements is censored or punished. It is reasonable for there to be some restrictions on what can be said or posted, but those restrictions should be clearly explained so that everyone understands why they have to exist. The rules are enforced by whim and favoritism, not in a fair, ethical or consistent way. A subtler sign is that the admins lack a sense of humor about themselves and their policies. It's not okay to poke gentle fun at the group.

8. Requests for money or sex. An alpha who wants you to pay tribute or to have sex with him and he will teach you all about how to be a True Were is not somebody you should trust. In particular if you are underage and an adult wants to talk to you about sex or in a sexual way, they have shown their willingness to commit what may be a criminal act. Do not trust these people because they are selfish users who do not have your best interests in mind. Don't necessarily believe people who say they are your own age, either. You might be talking to a 50 year old sexual predator who is not even the gender "she" claims to be.

9. Lack of older adults on board - the "alphas" or admins are all in their teens or early 20's. There are some bright young minds in the online community, but it is a lot more difficult for younger people to be positive adult role models because they just don't have the life experience. Many young people are too eager to be "alphas" when they are not emotionally ready to offer the adult support and guidance that a community needs.

10. Isaac Bonewitz's excellent Cult Danger Evaluation Frame can be used to further evaluate any group you encounter online or in real life.

Updated February 8th, 2022 at 01:34 PM by Savage

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