Today, I learned of another death in our local Bay Area community. Iain of Edukink has passed away, and while no death can be truly prepared for, this one came at as a complete shock to the entire community.
I learned of his passing through Fetlife.
It was not the first time I'd been notified of a death in our community through Fetlife; it was not the first time I'd learned a major, life-changing event. I've learned of births on Fetlife; people expanding their families in other, blessed ways on Fetlife; people's geographical moves; new careers; new Significant Others; marriages; divorces; and so on. Sometimes, I've read about simple epiphanies my friends have had that have been so shattering, so cataclysmic to their old way of thinking, that they had to share it--and we were there to read, listen, and applaud them for making such an important leap on their journey.
Fetlife can sometimes be an awful beast. There are trolls here, stalkers, predators, lurkers and thieves and mischief-makers. There are those whose interest in the kink community never goes beyond a certain gruesome fascination, and Fetlife is their peephole into our seductively riveting world. Yet they hold their fascination with haughty contempt: we are the freaks; they are merely the audience, watching the spellbinding show. They get to watch from the safety of their own darkened rooms, where their high-definition screens light up every nipple and ripple of skin, and feel contemptuously secure in their own anonymity.
But for many of us (and, I'd like to think, a vast majority of us), Fetlife is different. It is a gateway into a whole other world, full of great friends, great fun, incredible community, and a whole new definition of family. It is like a wardrobe that leads to Narnia...
But the door doesn't swing. It slides.
What comes through the gateway to the vanilla world, your vanilla world, is completely up to you.
Fetlife should not replace community. It should augment it. It should be a place of support, knowledge, understanding, and laughter. It should be where friends can come and gather to encourage one another, learn new things, keep abreast of each other's lives...and when necessary, unite as one to help our brethren in need.
Look, I know Fetlife has its problems. It's been tainted by those who would corrupt it, abuse it for their own power. Hell, even Fetlife's own creator is guilty of this.
But Fetlife is not any one person. It is not even many people. It is a beginning, a door to something better, and you don't even have to take a step back to open it; all you have to do is move a bit forward.
The world behind it is right there in front of you. And while we're not exactly waiting around for you to show up...we'd be sure glad if you did.