Shane—Some People Aren’t People on the Inside

Some People Aren’t People on the Inside: Online Connectivity and Otherkin Subjectivities

by Margaret Shane

[Shane, Margaret. 2014. “Some People Aren’t People on the Inside.” In Educational, Psychological, and Behavioral Considerations in Niche Online Communities, edited by Vivek Venkatesh, 260–71. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.]

  • Otherkin identity queers ontology
  • Otherkin as a “flow of desire” rather than marginal subculture
  • Onto-Normativity—A compound term of art comprised of the prefix “onto” derived from “on­tology” referring to philosophical considerations of reality and being; and “normativity” referring to predominant norms. In this context, the term points to habits of thought governing reality prevalent in contemporary Western society.”


So-called alternative on line niche communities are prone to ridicule, derision, and dismissal owing to the challenges they pose to prevailing onto-normativities, those ingrained modes of thought that dictate how we describe reality. Relying on the divergent approaches of classic SWOT analysis and post-structuralist philosophy and queer theory, this chapter explores how online connectivity shapes expressions of one niche community, the Otherkin. Otherkin are conceived as flows of desire, difference, and becoming rather than as a marginalized sub-culture occupying virtual space. As such, Otherkin are queering and destabilizing established norms in ways that call forth radically new ethics, aesthetics, ontologies, epis­temologies, and social connections. This chapter relies upon Otherkin online texts and expressions to make the case that such destabilizations are essentially creative acts and that on line connectivity affords Otherkin strengths and opportunities as well as revealing weaknesses and representing threats to their niche community

Annotation Summary for: Shane – Some People Aren’t People on the Inside


Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “An analytical approach that fails to accept that Otherkin claims are in earnest also fails to seize upon the importance theironlineexchanges and community represent: their demand to pursue new ways of being in the world. ”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Otherkin exhibit no idiosyncratic semiotic system. They struggle towards a common vocabulary.”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Otherkin subjectivities thrive online and demand our respectful attention but we must take care to ask the right questions. Which onto-normativities do online expressions of Otherki11 subjectivities destabilize? Not, what do Otherkin expressions mean but rather what do Otherkin expressions do in this contemporary moment of neo-liberalism, late capitalism, and the society of control?”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Through new subjectivities, beliefs, modes of interaction, and pursuit of personal epiphanies and truths, the Otlrerkin embrace an expanded consciousness and awareness that re-enchants theirontologies(Wicker, 2005).”

Page 2, Note (Orange): Why are these the right questions?

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “l have elsewhere encountered descriptions ofthe Otherkin as a subculture. For the present purpose, I reject the Latin prefix sub (under or inferior) and its hierarchical and judgmental connotations. Describing Otherkin as a flow of subjectivity better conveys its mode of expres­ sion. Flow also captures the Otherkin’s singular focus on the fluidity of their lived-experience ofdestabilizing onto-normativity. ”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “SWOT analysis”

Page 3, Note (Orange): Compare to Willerslev

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “If the otherside is very strong you actually might lose a few of the very basic humanfu11ctio11s, like speech, I’m not joking. If you are reallyfarimo a memal shift you ca11forget how to speak, you can forget how to walk on two legs. ( Masticina, 2008)”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Such perceptions could be described as both pathological mental illness and magical thinking.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “When we Otherki1l .. . say things like “/ am an elf,” we say it in earnest, and we’ve put a lot of thought into how we came to that statement, over many years of our lives. This identification is not a make-believe roleplaying game. It is who we are in real life. (p. 5) Nevertheless, it is a product of science and technology – the Internet – that binds, organizes, and makes possible the broadcast and sharing of Otlrerkill subjectivities in this _niche space that amplifies as it captures the voice, defeats distance, and both circumvents and transcends social and political orthodoxi~s.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Otherkin awakening narratives sup­ port a sociological drive towards enchantment developed by Schneider as discussed by Wicker (2005). This contemporary moment of profound uncertainty, social -and political division, and the capture and conunodification of the radically new makes the ability to engage with enchantment desirable and transformative:”

Page 4, Note (Orange): As opposed to other historical moments?

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “We speak of cyber-space, chat rooms, MySpace, homepages being terms of the locus. But for our purposes, it is more useful to adopt an image of thought that emphasizes Otherkin flows, those points of confluence and divergence that cease­ lessly spring forth, flow, flood, and drain away across that morphing, destabilized niche created by online connectivity.”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Otherkin niche conununities grow from the substrate of online connectivity and they do so by channelling flows of difference and desire into continually shifting subjectivities that run counter to ontological, religious, political, ethical, arid social normativities. What we are attempt­ ing here is a morphological understanding of the Otherkins’ nicheonline.”

Page 5, Note (Orange): No reference to Castells?

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Strengths”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In this era of manufactured fear-neo-conservativerhetoric, economic crisis, global terrorism, and ecoand bio-vulnerability – the construction or rein­forcement of an “other” is a socio-psychologicalnecessity and being kin to chat other is a radically creative act. ”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Haptic space is aggregate. The “space that induces new becomings and is reciprocally produced by such becomings” (Roy, 2005, p. 32).”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The Otherkin identity is a safe haven for us to express the aspects of ourselves that do11 ‘t fit illfo the everyday world but that 11eed to have a place nonetheless . … Regardless of what the origin of our desires, memories, and patterns are, they are the1¥:, and in order for us to be truly healthy indi­ viduals we need to accept them and allow them a place in our lives that neither impedes everyday functions nor forces us to repress what we see as fundamemal parts of ourselves. (p. 30)”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “online connectivity strengthens Otherkin expressions of subjectivity by preserving its access to the space of excep­ tional flows. And yet, online connectivity does something curious to expressions that occur in the hap. It captures it in the moment of its occunence and creates a digital surrogate of the expression making possible perpetual replications of the utterance or expression severed from its original context. Online connectivity distils artefacts in the form of enduring digital records that, as discussed below in te~ms of threats, are prone to recoding, re-contextualizing, and cornm~dificatioo.”

Page 6, Note (Orange): Intertextuality

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “loosened from its contextual moorings”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Spirituality and religiosity remain at the microlevel of the individual and so online affordances become vitally important to the expression of radically new subjectivities. Otherkin’s most striking characteristic is its per­ petual differing and becoming in the Deleuzian sense.”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “when we examine onlineexpressions of subjectivity, we are only ever able to examine the digital artefact of a becoming.”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Weaknesses”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In their individual pursuits of self­ revelation, self-expression, and personal growth, Otherkin are confronted with the fact that online”

Page 6, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “Haptic space”

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “activity is not enough in itself to nurture and protect the subjectivity. There remains a need for face-to-face meets.”

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The actual, real-world con­ nections, though less frequent, offer an intensity that real-time or asynchronous online connectivity cannot match.”

Page 7, Underline (Magenta): Content: “The actual, real-world con­ nections, though less frequent, offer an intensity that real-time or asynchronous online connectivity cannot match.”

Page 7, Note (Orange): How do you know?

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Opportunities”

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “They are mov­ ing us past the post-modern, into the post-human and are doing so at this contemporary moment-a moment of profound anxiety, uncertainly, and suffocating pessimism.”

Page 7, Note (Orange): Again- why this moment? None of this is new.

Page 7, Underline (Magenta): Content: ” affordances ”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “From my own perspective, we ‘re already getting more exposure to the mainstream, thanks to the . llltemet, where anyone can plug anything imo · any search engine and find information. While I’m sure some people would be quite happy to stay closeted, for better or for worse we ‘re sf owly getting brought out into the light as it were . … I figured that since people are goi11g to find out about us eventually, we may as well lei them be informed by us, rather than by third parties who may not always understand us. (p. 19)”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In 1990, relying upon nascent electronic mail, R’ ykandar Korra ‘ti ( 1990) founded the Elfinkind Digest. Even the most cur­ sory review of Scribner’s Otherkin timeline: The recent history of Elfin, Fae, and Animal people (2013) reveals that Otherkin creative output and activity – including electronic mailing lists, list servs, e-journals, conventions, meets of all kinds, Web-published literature, biogs, and video con­ tent – developed in lockstep with the Internet’s technological advances and burgeoning ubiquity beginning circa 1993. Threats”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “There is inherent risk in expressing radically new sublec­ tivities online. That connectivity also serves as a conduit for mainstream cultural and ontological hegemony by affording those intolerant to the subjectivity equal access to the virtual space and participation in the online conversation.”

Page 9, Underline (Magenta): Content: “Deleuzian becoming is a concept ofthe self as “a constantly changing assemblage offorces, and epiphenomenon arising from chance confluences of languages, organisms, societies, expectations, laws and so on” (p. 27). ”

Page 9, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “Deleuzian becoming ”

Page 9, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “[The Jmemet]”

Page 9, Underline (Magenta): Content: “[The Jmemet] is a virtual reflection of the real world, but one that both mimics and is clearly dif­ ferent from the real spaces it reflects. The l11temet is less a series of objects and spaces than a series of movements between them . … this movement can be in ‘logical’ linear sequence … or it can take new pathways linked 011/y by the random thoughts of the surfer. .•. The lntemet therefore already begins to peel away the stratum that forms society, since that stratum relies on clear co1111ectio11s of objects and spaces. (p. 30)”

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In this online space – at the confluence of the virtual and actual – Otherkin expressions of subjectivity destabilize ontological normativity through a fluidity of identity, a utopian ethic, and joy in the expressions of the radically new and deeply meaningful connections (Buchanan, 2000).”

Page 10, Stamp (Star (Frame, Red))

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Otherkin are queering onto-normativity in ways similar to how Queer Theory challenged heteronormati vity.”

Page 10, Stamp (Star (Frame, Red))

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Seen through a Deleuzian lease, queering is a radical position from which .to demolish the entire set of onto-normatives that defineand circumscribe human life. Queering is thebecoming of flows of difference that go beyond the givens that dominate our thinking about the human experience”

Page 11, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Otlrerki11 are queering onto-normatives and de­ ploying Queer Theory’s radical transformative power to destabilize and decentre our givens and normative categories, to insist upon the mutability of constructed identities, to seek inclusion, and to explode the potential modes of human existence.”

Page 12, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “CONCLUSION What are the Otherkin responding to?What are the Otherkin subjectivities called forth by online con­ nectivity in this contemporary moment? Flows of Otherkin expression respond to the rationalization and secularization of society or what Max Weber ( 1919), famously mistranslating Friedrich Schi I­ ler, described as a “disenchantment of the world” that insists upon the objective and the rational (Robbins, 2011, p. 74).”

Page 12, Underline (Red): Content: “Butler, J. ( 1990). Gender trouble: Feminfam and the subversion of identity. New York, NY: Routledge. Butler, J. (1993). Bodies that.matter: On the dis­cursive limits of sex. New York, NY: Routledge.”

Page 12, Underline (Red): Content: “Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Min­ neapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press . Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1994). What is philoso­ phy? New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Foucault, M. ( 1972). The archaeology of knowl­ edge. London, UK: Tavistock.”

Page 13, Underline (Red): Content: “Foucault, M. ( 1986). Of other spaces. Diacritics,16(1), 22-27. doi:J0.2307/464648 Kirby, D. (2009). From pulp fiction to revealed text: A study of the role of the text in the Otlrerkin community. In D. Deacy, & E. Arweck (Eds.). Exploring religion and the sacred in a media age (pp. 141- 154). Surrey, UK: Ashgate.

Laycock,]. P. (2012). Wearespiritsof anothersort: Ontological rebellion and religious dimensions of the Otherkin community. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, 15(3 ), 65-90. doi: 10.1525/nr.2012.15 .3.65”

Page 14, Underline (Red): Content: “Weber, M. ( 1919). Gesammlte a11fsaetze wr wis­ senschaftslehre. Munich, Germany: Duncker & Humboldt. Retrieved from http://www.wisdom. Vocation. pdf”

Page 14, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Onto-Normativity: A compound term of art comprised of the prefix “onto” derived from “on­ tology” referring to philosophical considerations of reality and being; and “normativity” referring to predominant norms. In this context, the term points to habits of thought governing reality prevalent in contemporary Western society.”

Page 14, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “Onto-Normativity:”


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