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If I’m Ruining Fetlife, I’m Glad

·814 words·4 mins

I’ve been meaning to finish this particular post for a while, but I’ve held off.

This is primarily because I try very hard to not reward behavior that I don’t want to see again. The reason for this is simple. It’s essentially the closest thing to a fundamental rule in psychology: What you reward, recurs.

So if you reward something, you will see it over and over again.

Sometimes people learn this and interpret it like so, “Oh, okay, I won’t be nice to people if they’re doing something bad. I’ll yell at them or criticize them. Argue.”

But the problem with this is for some people, _any _attention is reward. Criticism can be a form of reward because you’re acknowledging someone and telling them that they’re important enough to single out and contradict.

If this seems strange to you, think about how many trolls there are online. If criticism weren’t a form of attention which is a form of reward, would it be so popular to be a troll?


You’re better off ignoring behavior you don’t want to see again if you can. If you address it all, it’s better to wait and do it much later (uncouples act and reward neurochemically).

Anyway, it was a while back that I got a rash of comments from people who were complaining that I was ruining FetLife by being popular there.

FetLife Is a Kinky Social Media Site

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, FetLife is a social media site that revolves around kink. It’s sometimes informally known as “Facebook for kinksters.” If you’ve never been and are curious, please be advised that it’s a VERY Not Safe for Work site. Nudity and such are allowed in a way that they aren’t on Facebook. If you couldn’t watch porn where you’re viewing the web, don’t visit FetLife there. Period.

Anyway, I’ve been kicking around FetLife for over nine years, originally introduced to the site by a woman I was dating. FetLife has a high population of non-monogamous people and makes it easy to list multiple relationship statuses, so it was a place I felt comfortable reading and writing about kink and polyamory as I was exploring them as a newbie.

It was also one of the places I first felt comfortable writing essays. For a long while, this was basically just for my friends on my local kink scene. After a while, my partner built me a site where I could blog (which is now Poly Land, this site), and I continued to cross post selected articles to FetLife, where people who used the site regularly could share and comment on them. A bit like how I post the articles to Facebook and Twitter.

People have their own social media preferences, and the hard part is really writing the pieces. Posting them a few different places is pretty easy compared to writing them.

So I do.

“You’re Ruining FetLife!”

When my writing started to take off, it first happened on FetLife. (My Facebook audience would eventually grow to a size that dwarfed my FetLife readership, but that would happen a bit later.)

And as it did, I began to encounter a stream of people who were really unhappy about my becoming popular. Granted, the stream of naysayers was much smaller than the stream of people who seemed appreciative that I was writing. But the detractors were steady nonetheless.

They weren’t really specific with their grievances or substantive in their criticism, but I was told the same thing quite a few times: That I was ruining FetLife.

Since they didn’t really tell me why, I analyzed what was popular in order to figure out how I was violating their expectations.

Much of the popular work on FetLife had an adversarial, confrontational style. There were a lot of rants and feuds. Permutations of the war of the sexes was an astoundingly popular topic (men vs. women, women vs. men, as heteronormatively and stereotypically distilled as possible).

I didn’t see a lot of wholesome kink. Non-aggressive philosophical musings. Slices of kinky life. Research-based advice about non-monogamy or BDSM.

Doesn’t mean it isn’t there, but it’s underrepresented. Or it was, anyway.

It might just be my imagination, but it seems like I’ve been seeing more of that kind of thing the past year or so. The kind of stuff I always liked reading there (before I started writing much myself) but could never find enough of.

If I’m Ruining FetLife, I’m Glad

The best I can figure, this is what they mean when I’m accused of ruining FetLife. That I’m responsible for propagating wholesome kink. Both by writing it myself and by encouraging other people to.

That I’ve somehow altered the balance on the forum, ever so slightly, by starting different sorts of conversations.

That’s why if I’m ruining FetLife, I’m glad.


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