On Outgrowing ERP and F-List
A lot has changed since 2006.
First, a little history
When I made my first forays into furry characters, lewdness, roleplaying, and other sexual encounters within the fandom, I was 16 years old, a highschool dropout, working part time as a furniture mover, and it was a beautiful blue Californian summer. For hours I'd sit in my room with the windows open and my television on, hanging out on FurNet IRC playing a loosely established fursona (which would many years later finally take shape as Mizuki Hirasawa) as a form of escapism from my reclusive nature, poor home life, and misfit sexual interests. Time went by very slowly and the warm sunshine and blue skies of 2006 seemed to stretch on for far longer than it had any license to. As far as lives go, it was very comfortable despite the woes I suffered. It seemed it would be 'Summer Sunshine Forever.'
I developed a dependence on online promiscuity and sex as an outlet for my insecurities and conflicts, and I spent more and more of my leisure time on instant messengers and group chats getting into all sorts of extracurricular activities. I made a lot of mistakes, did a lot of learning, and wasted altogether too much of my time. The summer didn't last forever, to my growing chagrin, and as the warmth and light of the season faded, so did my content sense of peace.
2007 and 2008 are mostly wisps of memories to me now. After many, many years of emotional and physical abuse from my bipolar stepfather and abject apathy from my mother, I moved out of my parent's house overnight with two boxes of clothes and my laptop. I slept on the floor of a Section 8 two-bedroom apartment which housed 5 people including myself. I was detained by the local police department for violating curfew, lost a part-time job with Barnes and Noble for shoplifting, and spent a lot of time drunk or up to no-good. All throughout, my island of stability and escape was the same online haunts and sexual looseness. Surprisingly, I never stopped to think much about my character/fursona and was simply content to just, 'be.' Although it eased the near constant malaise my living arrangements and many life mistakes brought me, I was never truly content.
In 2009, I moved out of the apartment and in with my grandmother. I held a steady, full time retail job for two years and kicked most of my bad habits. I did wind up losing my best friend and former lover over stupid mistakes and boundary issues, which caused a major setback in my emotional maturity. I got out less and less, hopped from job to job, but was mostly content with my life and just passing time until 2011/2012. I continued to remain promiscuous online with the same, dated character of minimal description, adding Steam, Skype, and other more contemporary IM programs to my stomping grounds in the process.
In 2011, I was issued a state license to operate as a guard and picked up a full time job for just over minimum wage at a local patrol agency. I worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, and had precious little time for the lewdness that served as release for my ails. I suffered horribly. I can't remember much of anything beyond the constant routine of work, sleep, and basic responsibility while working for the agency until a life-threatening illness and brief hospitalization forced me to quit in late 2012. After a few months of recuperation, I signed on with an armed patrol agency in 2013. I was 23 and finally my presence in the furry fandom began to blossom into a more constructive one; one which would also prove to be deeply rewarding.
I made my first commission that turned my nameless, nebulous fursona into an actual, tangible character in December of 2013. I discovered F-List, created a profile, and began making connections and having more meaningful roleplay, both platonic and sexual, and formed lasting bonds with other characters and their owners. This tipped the pitcher as it were and I ordered commission after commission in rapid succession with my newfound expendable income, and my investment in them grew exponentially with each manifested character. I spent ages developing lore, mannerisms, flaws, and foils for each, and in taking the mantle of each in roleplay I finally recaptured the contentment that had escaped me since I left home for the first time 7 years earlier, and I was far happier than I had been in a very, very long time.
I made lasting friends, acquaintances, and flings; I roleplayed and cybered a great deal in my spare time, but I slowly regained a grip on my life and finally, truly felt like I was becoming a responsible adult, even if it was rather later than it should have been. This remained constant with a few major life events interrupting my mostly routine existence.
Things changed significantly before I realized they were changing at all. The reasons were many, and although it was nobody's direct fault, nor really something anyone could even be at fault for, I do believe there is some merit to saying collectively my unsavory encounters with undesirable partners may have been at least one significant contributing factor in many others that I do not wish to detail here. Sometime in 2016, my drive for promiscuity and lewdness began to wane. This was fine at first as the drive was still present if a little more sporadic, and my contentedness remained even as my encounters diminished in number. Beigelands was founded in its first form (the hand-coded, clumsy website and not the version you read this on today) and I began very deeply establishing lore and universes for each of my characters.
Conflict began to arise in late 2016 when my drive took a sudden downward turn. I could only bring myself to get involved in sexual encounters with particular characters of mine (mostly Mizuki,) only once every few weeks, and almost exclusively with new and unfamiliar partners. It worsened still in the new year. This brought conflict with a great deal of most of my established ERP partners; some catastrophically so, destroying friendships and leaving me with a growing sense of obsolescence and emptiness. Eventually, I retired two of my most established characters from sexual encounters entirely, and began logging into F-List less and less.
Finally, in April of 2017, I made the decision to blank all of my F-List profiles after archiving them for what little lore they had, removing all but the profile avatars, and permanently discontinue logging into F-List. After much soul searching and experimentation, I decided that I would likely not be engaging in much, if any, ERP ever again. The option is not entirely gone, but if I do engage in any, it will be on my terms, when I feel like it, and without any commitment or obligation.
I cannot stress enough that this is not any one person's 'fault' and that nothing anyone has done or could have done would change this. I honestly hope I don't see any moody posts about it; it would be incredibly selfish of them and I would be very disappointed. Though I may not engage in those interactions anymore, their memories will always remain with me and bring me fond reminiscing.
And what of the characters
With the advent of the new Beigelands in 2017, I finally established a visually appealing, sustainable, and fun to operate home for the serious aspects and lore of my characters and art. Progress will continue here, including acquisition of art and new characters, until such a time that I am no longer able or interested. Each and every one is precious to me in way that I simply cannot express and that value can never be diminished. I do hope you'll check back from time to time as I continue to write and develop for each of them.
Oh, and a bit of trivia: the name "Beigelands" refers to the dreamland in which these characters' worlds were conceived and reside; a forever warm, bright, orange and tan summer; somewhere in the way back when.
Perhaps, someday, our paths shall cross again.