Getzler—Othering Among Otherkin

Othering Among Otherkin: The Discursive Negotiation of the Face-Threat of Exclusionary Othering in a Demarginalizing Internet Community

by Melanie Getzler 

[Getzler, Melanie. 2013. “Othering among Otherkin: The Discursive Negotiation of the Face-Threat of Exclusionary Othering in a Demarginalizing Internet Community.” M.A., United States — Indiana: Indiana University.]

  • Otherkin do in fact other each other
  • Otherkin online politeness behavior is based around the ideals of free speech
  • Evaluation – the bald judgement of othered indiv. as possessing the characteristics of or belonging to the other – most frequent technique used
  • When talking about non-present others – joking and objectifying (fungibility, denial of subjectivity & autonomy)

Annotation Summary for: Getzler – Othering Among the Otherkin

Page 5, Typewriter (Red): Comment: Abstract

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “For individuals with marginalized, concealable identities, internet communities have been perceived in the past as havens in which belonging and escape from rejection are achievable enticements. However, even in these communities, rejection and othering occurs. This study examines discursive othering in a community of individuals with marginal, concealable identities who believe themselves to be something other than human – Otherkin. By studying the types of discursive othering found in this community and the politeness behaviors that accompany those types of othering, this study discovers that through increased politeness to one another while othering nonpresent members, the Otherkin community manages to maintain face and promote its own sense of self identity while doing unto others what drove them to seek a safe online community in the first place.”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Face, as defined by Irving Goffman in 1955, is “the positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has taken during a particular contact” and “an image of self delineated in terms of approved social attributes” (p. 213).”

Page 8, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “Face,”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Marginalized individuals, in particular, suffer socially due to the disadvantages society has placed upon them. If the trait is concealable, immediate recognition of the marginalized trait may be avoided, but other complications may arise due to the emotional consequences of concealing a stigmatized identity (Larson & Chastain, 1990).”

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Othering is here defined as the process of categorizing a person or group of people as belonging to an out-group rather than an in-group.”

Page 10, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “Othering”

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “This is a process that Social Identity theorists believe to stem from our natural desire to belong to groups with which we identify (Tajfel & Turner, 1986).”

Page 11, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In order to take the medium into account during the process of gathering data, this paper approaches the relevant data using content analysis and computer-mediated discourse analysis (CMDA)”

Page 11, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In order to analyze this politeness behavior, this study draws on the politeness theory set out by Brown and Levinson (1987) and later modified for use in CMDA by Herring (1994). As this method for coding politeness focuses on”

Page 11, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The paper first reviews the ways in which face threat from renunciatory othering potentially speaks to the politeness behavior in marginalized internet communities, highlighting a few broad questions in that regard, namely: 1) What discursive behaviors are involved in othering in marginalized internet communities, 2) how do marginalized communities use politeness to manage face in situations where othering occurs, if they do so at all, and 3) what values might guide this politeness behavior, if any?”

Page 12, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Next, the paper discusses how content analysis and CMDA methods can be used to explore possible answers to these questions. CMDA is applied to the discourse of a marginalized internet community (Otherkin community forums) in the succeeding section, followed by a presentation of the results of the analysis. In the conclusion, the limitations of the study and directions for future research are discussed.”

Page 15, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “While one cannot expect the internet to magically cure all marginalization, it has been theorized to provide a sort of ‘laboratory’ in which users can try out new or different aspects of their personality in the company of anonymous others in order to see how expressing those aspects of their identity feel (Turkle, 1995).”

Page 15, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Surveys of people who participate in these communities have revealed that the participants report greater self-acceptance the more they participate in these communities; the authors who found this effect called these communities ‘demarginalizing.’ (McKenna & Bargh, 1998).”

Page 16, Underline (Magenta): Content: “it has been found that non-psychotic self amputees, such as sufferers of Body Integrity Disorder and apotemnophiliacs, gather in online communities in order to support one another, exchanging photos, stories, and tips on how to ‘safely’ amputate body parts. Viewing their desire to amputate as part of their personal identities, these individuals not only seek medical information, but acceptance for their deviant views (Berger, Lehrmann, Larson, Alverno, & Tsao, 2005).”

Page 18, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “categorical othering – a distinction is being made between people, but the existence of that distinction does not necessarily lead to tension.”

Page 18, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “categorical othering”

Page 18, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “however, some othering is by nature ostracizing. Thisostracizing othering will henceforth be referred to as renunciatory othering.”

Page 18, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “renunciatory othering”

Page 19, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Pagans have been observed to reject some Pagans as ‘fluffies,’ inauthentic paganism practitioners, in both online and offline environments (Coco & Woodward, 2007).”

Page 19, Underline (Red): Content: “(Coco & Woodward, 2007).”

Page 20, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Building on Goffman’s concept of face, which relies on a speaker who generates an utterance and a hearer who receives that utterance, Brown and Levinson theorize politeness as consisting of discursive acts that protect or threaten someone’s face.”

Page 20, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “politeness”

Page 24, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The feeling of being an outsider to ‘normal’ humanity due to being wrong in body and mind is a notable feature of Otherkinism. This sense of being ‘wrong’ or ‘alien’, particularly bodily and socially,”

Page 25, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “has also been found in male computer geeks and hackers (Turkle, 1984).”

Page 25, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “While the Otherkin interpretation of feelings of inhumanity may be more literal than that which is experienced by hackers, the sentiment is essentially similar.”

Page 25, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “When hackers proclaim that they prefer their computers for being elegant and direct in their responsiveness, it may be considered to imply a dislike for the messiness of human interaction. When Otherkin proclaim a kinship with something other than human, it may be considered to imply that they are rejecting their humanity. ”

Page 28, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Research Question 1: Does othering occur in online communities of Otherkin? If so, what othering techniques appear in threads that contain othering?”

Page 28, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Hypothesis 1: Othering that rejects potential members of the in-group will be found in Otherkin forums.”

Page 29, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Research Question 2: With what frequency do the othering techniques found in othering threads appear?”

Page 29, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Research Question 3: To what extent will othering conversations be comprised of the different politeness acts? Specifically, how much politeness is there, and how much of each kind?”

Page 30, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Research Question 4: If both politeness and othering are found, how often will different types of othering appear with the varieties of politeness? Hypothesis 4a: Othering performed by Otherkin will be facilitated through evaluations that violate positive politeness more often than exclusion from discourse through banning the other from speaking or refusing to invite the other to converse. Hypothesis 4b: Displaying ‘liberalism’ and subverting tolerance will be more frequent than evaluation that violates positive politeness in threads that display othering.”

Page 33, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The popular forum www.otherkin.com/phpbb3(henceforth ‘otherkin.com’), the highest ranking Google search result for the word ‘Otherkin,’ is likely one of the best known Otherkin sites on the web. With a user population of roughly 2600 members, otherkin.com is likely populous enough to represent a good portion of Otherkin on the web. The second most populous Otherkin forum to be found in the Google search rankings is http://www.otherkincommunity.net/ (henceforth ‘otherkincommunity.net’), which boasts over 1000 members.”

Page 33, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Selecting two websites should help to avoid representing only the culture of one website’s community.”

Page 34, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In order to limit the number of threads it would be necessary to sample to threads in which conversation has ceased for some time, all threads that were sampled were taken from threads that had fallen silent in 2010 or earlier. Every thread from 2010 found in the Otherkin subforums on Otherkin.com and every thread from 2010 and 2009 in the Otherkin subforums on otherkincommunity.net constituted two pools of threads from which a random sample was drawn.”

Page 41, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “CMC Politeness: Modified from Herring (1994) Adherence to positive politeness (P+): “It’s nice to see you!” “That’s really interesting.””

Page 41, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Violation of positive politeness (P-): “I can’t believe you did something so stupid.” “Yeah, I really want to share a secret like that with you.” [Sarcastically] Adherence to negative politeness (N+):”

Page 42, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ““Could you possibly summarize that?” “By all means, continue!” “You can find it here: www.examplelink.com” Violation of negative face (N-): “Don’t talk about that.” “Why don’t you use proper punctuation and grammar?””

Page 42, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Othering: 1) Homogenization: 2) Evaluation”

Page 42, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Examples: “Fakers just delude themselves into thinking they’re something because they want to feel accepted.” ”The deluded ones are always so sweet, though.””

Page 43, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Examples: “Of course he’s crazy, he chose to join the ‘real werewolves’ forum.” “I’ve noticed a difference in some Otherkin, like they’re so much more full of light than the rest of us – just something so different.””

Page 43, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “a. Denial of subjectivity – people are treated as if they have no feelings, or as if those feelings don’t matter. 3) Discriminatory Objectification b. Violability – the sense that it is permissible to break or harm someone. c. Denial of autonomy – suggesting that someone has no meaningful independent will, such as suggesting that they are at the mercy of their own urges. d. Instrumentality – the sense that it is right that these people be used, in the same manner as any other tool.”

Page 44, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “e. Fungibility – the implication that any one person belonging to a group is interchangeable with any other.”

Page 44, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “4) Voicing/reported speech “*Imitating him* RAWR, I R A FEERFUL MISTAKUL DRAGIN OF DOOM.” “So he said in this really beautiful, calm voice, ‘On no account would I ever do such a thing.’””

Page 44, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “5) Displaying “liberalism”: Examples: “They definitely just want to feel special, but really, I think it’s because a lot of them come from a bad home life, and they’ve found a weird but beautiful way to deal with a hard reality.” ”I understand what it feels like”

Page 45, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “to be in your position, but it is still absolutely unacceptable to be as ridiculous as you’re being.””

Page 45, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “6) Subverting tolerance through use of humor: Examples: “But seriously, guys, ease up on him – I mean, he’s only a 7000 year old god, they’re very sensitive at that age.””

Page 45, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “7) Silencing and suppression: Example: “He kept making these really outlandish claims, like how he had phantom wings – not like yours, Sierra, I mean he was like trying to flap them at me and everything.” ”

Page 45, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “8) Proposals towards (or agreement with) unfavorable treatment (that extends”

Page 46, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “beyond the use of language.)”

Page 46, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Examples: “I really don’t want to make you to feel uncomfortable when I say this, but everybody needs a punch in the face from somebody with more sense to see their own ridiculousness once in a while, and that might be where you’re at right now.””

Page 46, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “9) Exclusion from discourse”

Page 46, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Example: “Don’t talk to him, don’t listen to him, he shouldn’t even be here.””

Page 46, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “10) Other: Types of othering that are neither from the literature nor found through grounded theory.”

Getzler table 1

Getzler table 8A & 8B

Getzler table 9A & 9B

Page 61, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Tables 1 and 2 show that othering was present to varying degrees in both of the communities sampled, confirming Hypothesis 1. Four percent of Otherkincommunity.net’s utterances other, and 25% of Otherkin.com’s utterances other.”

Page 61, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Research Question 1 also asked what othering techniques would appear in Otherkin threads. The results of this study reveal that all of the techniques discussed in the literature were found to some degree, save for fungibility, but they were found in different frequencies.”

Page 61, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Research Question 2 asked what frequencies these othering techniques occurred in. From table 3 it can be seen that evaluation was most frequent in the sample, comprising 53.5% of the othering. The next five most frequently used techniques were subversion of tolerance at 13.0%, homogenization at 8.4%, violability at”

Page 62, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “6.0%, displaying liberalism at 5.7%, and voicing of the other at 4.7%; all other techniques were 2% of the utterances in the sample or less.”

Page 62, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “This means that evaluation, which involves bald judgment of othered individuals as possessing the characteristics of the other or belonging to the other, was not only present but also outweighed all other othering techniques combined.”

Page 62, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Research Question 3 asked how much politeness each sample would be comprised of, and of what kinds. Tables 7 to 9 show that positive face politeness was most frequently expressed towards present parties, while violations of positive face politeness were most frequent towards nonpresent parties.”

Page 64, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Research Question 4 asked what kinds of othering tended to correspond to what kind of politeness. violations of positive face politeness stood out as the most frequent co-occurrence of othering and politeness, as is evident in tables 4A, At the same time, present others were included or joked with in adherence to positive politeness, as shown in Table 6A/B.”

Page 64, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “While these figures do not indicate that an overwhelming amount of agreement and joking occurred among forum gossipers while they discussed the targets of their othering, they are more prominent than the total use of objectifying othering techniques (denial of subjectivity, violability, denial of autonomy, instrumentality, and fungibility) that Boreus discusses in his 2006 study of political discussions regarding proposed treatment of the mentally deficient.”

Page 66, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “These numbers support Hypothesis 4a, suggesting that Otherkin politeness behavior is consistent with what one would expect of internet communities that have an ethic of free speech. ”

Page 66, Stamp (Star (Frame, Red))

Page 66, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Otherkin were more likely to be rude to someone (both to their face and in their absence) than to ask them to leave or silence them.”

Page 66, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Perhaps the most surprising finding in this study is the lack of redressive speech shown towards the targets of othering, whether those targets were present or nonpresent.”

Page 74, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Poster 1: okay, im sorry but could someone help me understand what all this ‘fluff hunting’ is about?? im lost :confused: Poster 2: it’s hunting of people who do fluff x) The ‘hunting of people who do fluff’ speaker 2 is referring to means to hunt down examples of people who believe things that are considered foolishly unrealistic or delusional. To be told that one ‘does fluff’ or to be called ‘fluffy’ is an insult.”

Page 74, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Another speaker concurs later in the conversation: “”Fluff are people who makes outrageous claims and expect others to believe them without question. If you point out a flaw in their logic, they will often throw and[sic] temper tantrum and run away. They are both extremely entertaining and rather pathetic. Sometimes they have legitimate mental problems, or they may simply be idiots. Whichever it is, we keep track of them here, in the hopes that others will not repeat their mistakes. And for teh lulz [sic], of course.””

Page 75, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “True to Tajfel’s theory, the othering of ‘Fluffs’ allows the speakers here to unite under a common identity (non-Fluff) and celebrate their superiority to an other who is depicted as childish and irrational as a contrast to the maturity and rationality of those capable of opposing Fluffs through ‘hunting’.”

Page 75, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “One speaker reports, “My own friend has been scared to even join otherkin support boards because of the ridicule she feels is inevitable,””

Page 77, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “There exists othering among Otherkin, and from the prevalence of bold, on-record impoliteness that it is performed with it, it would appear that those who congregate online in order to reveal aspects of their identity feel little need to hide their othering behavior. Like the pioneers of the internet who valued free speech above the comforts of a politely censored space, some Otherkin prefer their internet frank rather than kind”

Page 78, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “If scholars can identify the conditions under which othering tends to arise, we may be able to learn how to manipulate those conditions in order to create inclusive, pro- social virtual environments for those who have need of them.”

Page 78, Stamp (Question Mark (?, Red))

Page 79, Underline (Red): Content: “Barker, M. (2003). Satanic subcultures? A discourse analysis of the self-perceptions of young goths and pagans. In T. Waddell (Ed.), Cultural expressions of evil and wickedness: Wrath, sex, and crime. Amsterdam: Rodopi.”

Page 79, Underline (Magenta): Content: “Berger, B. D., Lehrmann, J. A., Larson, G., Alverno, L., & Tsao, C. I. (2005) Nonpsychotic, nonparaphilic self-amputation and the internet. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 56, 380-382. ”

Page 80, Underline (Red): Content: “Frable, D. E. S. (1993). Being and feeling unique: Statistical deviance and psychological marginality. Journal of Personality, 61, 85-110.”

Page 80, Underline (Red): Content: “Giles, D. (2006). Constructing identities in cyberspace: The case of eating disorders. British Journal of Social Psychology, 45(Part3), 463-477.”

Page 81, Underline (Red): Content: “McKenna, K. Y. A., & Bargh, J. A. (1998). Coming out in the age of the Internet: Identity demarginalization through virtual group participation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(3), 681–694.”

Page 82, Underline (Red): Content: “Turkle, S. (1984). The second self. New York: Simon and Schuster. Turkle, S. (1995). Life on the screen: Identity in the age of the Internet. New York : Simon & Schuster.”

Page 82, Underline (Red): Content: “Williams, K. D., Cheung, C. K. T., & Choi, W. (2000). Cyberostracism: Effects of being ignored over the Internet. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 748–762.”

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