What is the vegan community?
And who is part of it?
And, who gets to decide who else can be part of it?
A recent discussion on social network sites revolved around an activist (I don’t know anything about the case, so I will be vague) who was in prison.
I commented on a forum, that I had tried for a couple of years to make a connection with this person, and over the space of those years got absolutely nothing back, not even one single “hello”. This was someone who did not want my support, someone who had rejected my support, but now was in trouble, suddenly I was useful?
I pointed this out, and the fact I thought it was strange that there were people trying to make me feel guilty that I felt nothing about his arrest.
That set off a storm on the vegan blogs. I was selfish, a failed human being, stupid – you name it, the insults came fast and furious.
I should support my community without asking for something in return, and if this prisoner has not even said hello in two years of supporting his causes, then I should just keep giving to him, more and more and more.
(and by the way: it is laughable how often these comments come from people who are vegans of less than a year… give someone a copy of an Alicia Silverstone book and slab of Daiya and they think they are the Gods Of Veganism, lecturing to all and sundry about who qualifies for being vegan and what you have to do to Earn Your Place In Your Community.)
It was not surprising to me, just disappointing, at how many people said “I am unfollowing you” for not supporting “YOUR community”.
That doesn’t seem very supportive to me.
I jokingly said “I resign from the vegan community, as I don’t recall signing up”.
Talk about hate-mail avalanche!
It just demonstrates once again, how petty, nasty, spiteful, predictable, insular, cliquey, highschoolish, disgusting the behaviour is of some vegans towards other vegans who don’t faithfully fall in line behind the “gurus” or toe the line on doctrine.
This is the community that I am supposed to support?
These are the loving, caring, compassionate people, who lecture others on how a community treats its members.
It is hard to find the time to be a good community member when I’m too busy deleting the hate mail pouring in from the “real” community members.
By their reasoning, I am not a proper member for failing to support a vegan in trouble, because goodness knows, the vegan community is so talented with supporting its members (so clearly, I was never one of them, which makes it “ok” for them to send me hatemail).
yes, http://houseofhippies.tumblr.com/ I am looking at you
By defining an “us” and “them”, the Insiders and Outsiders, the real community members and the fakes, it is easy to hate others. Do exactly as we say, all of the times, and we will accept you. Have a different opinion, and you stop being a real member of the community, and you will become fair game. We will ignore you, hate you, belittle you, betray you, hack your accounts, because You Are Not One Of Us.
The same people attacking me were the same ones demanding I show more respect to others… because obviously the word “hypocrite” is not in their dictionaires.
The double standard of attacking someone who has supported you, for them not supporting someone who has completely ignored them for years – the double standard at work is laughable.
I try and try to be a good member, and get treated like, I don’t know… a melange of servant, moron, groupie, brain donor, ATM card, shitpile, football, doormat, yet when an animal activist is in trouble, I am supposed to reach out and do all I can to the very same people that have treated me like garbage.
My support has been rejected in the past, and I am a failed human being for going “you don’t want me around, I accept that, I will go away, like you want me to” and giving up… and here is the thing, you can only get kicked in the head so often before you say “I am not going to try anymore with that person”… until they are in trouble and suddenly they have a use for you.
People only pull the “be a good community member” card on you when they want something from you, and if you don’t do Exactly What They Want, When They Want It, then you are a failed human being!!!!
Being in a community is not, or at least should not, be a one way street. I find it hard to extend compassion to people who send me hatemail, or unfollow for a sarcastic comment, or take it upon themselves to be the final arbiter of who is a member of the vegan community or not.
I have seen little support and sense of community directed at me. And yet, I am asked to give more and more.
This is peer pressure at is more disgusting. Conform or you will be all alone.
Do what we tell you, and maybe you can be part of Our Community, because don’t think for one minute that just because you are vegan and animal liberation activist that you are part of Our Community. Oh No you are not.
In my experience, as someone who has been a vegan since I was 15, I have never experienced this sense of community with other vegans which people are always telling me I NEED to show to others, yet never extend to me.
Never, there has not be one single day, in the real world or online, when I have had that “I feel like I’m home” feeling.
In fact, every day that passes I feel more and more alienated from a cause which I work for practically every minute of my life.
Sometimes it feels like there is a rulebook, which all the vegans got, except me: the right forums to join, the right gurus to worshhip, the insiders, the outsiders, the right blogs to follow, you get that wrong and you just won’t ever fit in.
I often feel like I’m out here on my own, my own little vegan world of one or two, standing outside in the cold and the snow, rubbing the frost off the window glass, peering in, while all the other vegans are in a warm cozy room, huddled around a flickering fire, comfortable and secure.
Maybe I will never fit in, maybe I should sacrifice some of my beliefs (such as stop trying to convince people that leather wearing and cheese eating celebrities are not vegan; or vegans don’t necessarily need to have a USAmerican guru, and join the liberationists Or the abolitionists- must chose!), maybe it is time to compromise who I am in order to fit in better with a community that seems to constantly reject me.
It seems to be, that when ever I express an opinion, I am ostracised, and sent hate mail, I am called names, but do I really need to lie and say, “oh yes, celebrity in prison has my full support”, because he does not, and more to the point…. if I was ever in prison, I doubt he would take the five and half seconds required to give me a second thought.
So it seems my role in “my community” is to shut up, smile, reblog, promote other peoples causes, sacrifice my beliefs, never have an original – controversial – opinion, never disagree with anyone Ever, never ask questions, and suck up to the celebrities activists, and only then will I be accepted.
Only by changing everything about myself, is there ever any hope of fitting in with “my” community.
Because being part of a community is giving in to everyone unquestionly, and giving uncritical support every minute of the day, by pretending to be someone you’re not, so you can be completely ignored by everyone involved, except those sending you hate mail.
Yep, riiiight…. and people criticise me for saying, I don’t feel like part of THAT community?
Really? that sounds like something which people willingly want to be part of? And they wonder why so many distance themselves from “the vegan community”.
These side-shows, this online popularity contest, is best left to people who are still in highschool. The whole “I am unfollowing you” drama, really? this is how adults act? it’s time some people grew up (lunaselenaunicorn, I am looking at you, don’t just unfollow me, block me, because I don’t want to be reading about your mylittlepony obsession any longer).
If the spite, pettiness and nastiness is what it means to be part of “the vegan community” the one, true, very beige, homogenous, group-think community – then I am pleased I resigned my membership from YOUR community.
Oh, I am still a vegan, and will always be, I have just given up trying to feel some sense of belonging, a feeling of kinship, searching for a community – Your Community, which does not seem to exist for me, from people who send me hate mail about how I am a bad member of the community.
Eternally an Outsider: