None of the participants to my study stays in character all the time or in any way thinks of their fursona as it is generally thought of identity. The fursona is not an internalized or naturalized self-representation which would enable the reenactment thereof outside the conscious decision of the subject. Identity proper – even if nowadays, after the postmodern/poststructuralist experience, can no longer be construed as destiny and nature – requires such internalization and a certain stability over time. The most frequent explanation given for the fursona identification is reenacting one’s fursona in a manner similar to an actor playing a role, in full awareness that one is human. This reenactment can be done by means of a fursuit (animal costume) or through role-playing in Second Life or other online platforms. Some informants prefer fursuiting (or even restrict themselves to fursuiting in some cases) as a means of fursona reenactment, while others believe it to be a corruption of pure imaginative powers.
A distance is always preserved between the subject and the object of identification. The deliberate maintenance of this distance is dictated by individualism as the dominant ideology in western societies. Following the theoretical position of Zygmunt Bauman, individualism translates into a constant drive for self-reinvention, with the conviction that one can be whom one choose. Since the value of difference is very much acknowledged now in the west, there is no wrong choice. However, if there is no wrong choice, there is no right one either. The individual who is subject to an individualistic perspective on self-identity will be always oscillating between the jouissance of choosing and the anxiety that he/she did not make the right choice. And of course this anxiety calls for making the choice again. Being encouraged to take advantage of one's freedom to choose often results in an inability of sticking with any one choice that might result in a naturalized identity. The distance between the subject and the object of identification (the fursona) relies on the ambivalence towards making a choice. In the case of the furries, the suspension of the final choice is facilitated by the fact that they can never fully embody these trans-species characters and so they can never travel the distance which prevents identification from turning into identity.
In this context, although at first sight we might perceive the furries as a marginal and strange group, their relationship with their fursonas is in actuality an extreme manifestation of the individualist self-fashioning trend visible in western, globalized societies in different forms and to different degrees.
The 360 degree panorama records without selection, it is de-centered and a-compositional. It treats the subject of the image with indifference, as if it were any other element of the spacial continuum. My choice for such an atypical format resides in the fact that it best conveys the idea of diversity turned mainstream in the age of individualism. A striking apparition such as a person dressed in an animal costume is in the end – in the context of the stylistic indifference of the 360 degree panorama - a normal occurrence, just as normal as the other ordinary objects such as household items, buildings or trees which occupy the frame.