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19 December 2007 @ 12:24 pm
I can't believe I've done this...  
*deep breath* Okay; I can do this...

Hi. I'm not a regular member of this community, but I've been frequenting it over the past few months. I am an undergraduate student at a small liberal arts college in the midwest, and have just completed a term paper which focuses on soulbonding, otakukin, and the relationship of these two subcultures to Japanese popular culture and capitalism.

I just finished putting this paper online as a website called Thinking Enchanted Subcultures. If you are curious about what I've written about you, feel free to visit it. I'm also obviously looking to expand the thing, so any comments from you fine folks would be greatly appreciated. I'd especially like to post some personal accounts from "self-identifiers" (people who refer to themselves as soulbonders.)

Cross-posted to related groups. *trembles* I can't believe I've done this.
ex_suhina987 on December 19th, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC)
I have to wonder… how many of these people have you quoted with /permission?/ You mention one personal interview, but nothing else. Have you even notified kangetsuhime, Baaing_tree, and russand0l that you are using their words? And, if not, have you considered what the consequence of using their LJ usernames could be? If it were me, I would be mighty, mighty upset. And, given that I respect each and everyone mentioned here, I am on a personal level.

If you have, in fact, already asked permission, I retract the statement.
myprotagonist on December 19th, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC)
Sorry that you’re personally upset. Nope, I haven’t tracked down Houck, or the PoE folks, or the LJ usernames I quoted. However, I’d like to think that if someone publishes something on the Internet, they don’t intend it to be a secret. None of the posts I quoted were friends-locked. If they don’t want their LJ names associated with soulbonding, they probably shouldn’t publicly post on soulbonding LJs.

There’s a long and revered history of using short quotations from articles and other sources for research - it’s called citation. If anyone whom I’ve quoted has some serious huge problem with it, they can contact me, and we’ll talk. I don’t see how any of them would, since this is all public anyways.

I’ve linked to everything I mentioned; the original paper had MLA-format citations for everything. I'm not violating any copyright laws, and I'm not slandering or libeling anyone. I'm using words that they made public for my own academic research. FWIW, an owner of an otakukin site suggested I use her site for this project, and several others as well, so I guess that counts as permission.
ex_suhina987 on December 19th, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
My issue was with the quotes that seemed to come directly from the soulbonding community itself, as a majority of those here are locked. I am glad that none of the posts you quoted were, as I think it would be somewhat... well, I shan't say unethical, but distasteful to quote from those meant for the community alone.

I still think that it would have been polite to have contacted those users in advance. With their usernames, it would have been quite easy to do so. I feel this way because, though the posts were public, as you said, they were generally aimed at other soulbonders. Your paper is not, and the original posters may not be comfortable with their words being aimed at another audience, especially given how places such as stupid_free have ripped into this community before.

However, it is indeed typical to use short quotations without prior request, just as you have stated. As a writer, I am quite aware of that. That said, I will always be a person before I am a writer, one perhaps over-sensitive to the feelings of others.

Good luck on your paper.
myprotagonist on December 19th, 2007 07:08 pm (UTC)
One thing I want to confess to everyone here is that when putting this online, I'm having real trouble balancing my academic training impulses with my internet instincts, if that makes any sense. In academia, people love to be cited; it's like candy for them. Also, in academia, people respond to your paper with, well, other papers, and it isn't really very interactive, and doesn't grow as much as online stuff could.

The audiences are so different that transitioning between two is giving me whiplash, so I really appreciate people pointing out things like this. If anyone quoted by LJname in the site wants it removed or changed, please use the contact form and let me know, and I'll do it.
Plain Rebecca Janeannaonthemoon on December 19th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)

While I appreciate that you are saying if you quoted someone they should contact you, I feel that you should be contacting the people you quoted, letting them know they were quoted, giving them a link to your article, and then asking for feedback. It's possible some people won't even click on your article link and might not know their journal was quoted until they suddenly some day receive a comment on their journal from someone who read your article. There also are many people on this community who do not talk publicly in their journals about their experiences, and use this community as a place where they can share things with others who are like them.
Sister Venerable Machine Gun of Truth: Default 2 - Selenekangetsuhime on December 19th, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC)
This community is friends only. No, I don't intend my words to be 'secret', however when you use our words in part of your own website on a subject, it is simply common courtesy to ask permission. My contact is all public, to enable people to contact me whenever needed. Legally permissable what you're doing may be, it is slightly rude.

By the way, if you're going to use my words without asking, do at least call me "she", rather than he.

Thank God my journal's private.

I appreciate people bringing this up, I skim-read some of these things at best and likely wouldn't have noticed otherwise.
Sister Venerable Machine Gun of Truth: Sunrise:kangetsuhime on December 19th, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
Gah. I was going to be pretty kind about this (I don't mind being quoted on anything. I was interviewed for a potential documentary for crying out loud), but I've just read your follow up post.

If your stance is that we're going to be quoted in your paper whether we like it or not, then hell yes I am going to ask that you remove any quotes of mine, any information drawn from my comments, and any reference to me, from your public work. We are people, not lab rats, and frankly deserve to be treated with more respect.

I'll be more sympathetic when you are.
Sister Venerable Machine Gun of Truth: Omfgkangetsuhime on December 20th, 2007 05:11 am (UTC)
If it helps any, I stopped being annoyed and became very amused when I realised I was completely drunk in the comment she used in her paper. That's worth ANY upset, right there.
ex_suhina987 on December 20th, 2007 06:32 am (UTC)
meiiikeee on December 19th, 2007 06:06 pm (UTC)
I didn't perceive it as being very informative or compelling...even after stepping aside for a moment to read the thing as if I knew nothing about the culture. Sorry. You need more sources, original accounts or something.
myprotagonist on December 19th, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC)
If I had more personal accounts, I'd certainly post 'em; LIS, this is supposed to grow. For most of the people who read it/were exposed to it in an academic setting, it was pretty informative - they'd never even heard of soulbonding before. I'd love to have more academic sources, but there really aren't any on this subject, so really all I have to work with are personal accounts. If anyone wants to send me one, I'd be happy to post it.
ex_suhina987 on December 19th, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
Have you considered mentioning the personal experiences of some rather well-known authors?
(Deleted comment)
ex_suhina987 on December 19th, 2007 08:34 pm (UTC)
(Lovely icon!)

I always think of the Bronte sisters and Neil Gaiman, myself, but your examples also apply, especially in terms of Stephen King. After all, he inserted himself as a character in one of his own novels.
(Deleted comment)
ex_suhina987 on December 19th, 2007 08:52 pm (UTC)
He said that a number of his Sandman characters wouldn't be quiet after he told some of their tales, and that they still chatter to him. It's not fronting, but not all bonding is, so...

Another poster said that they did not think the experiences of authors are relevant, but how could that be, especially when it comes to authors who have made certain characters the entire focus of their careers? Back in the day, soulbonding meant that connection with a fictional character that went an extra mile, and I think that applies here.
igemelli on December 19th, 2007 09:04 pm (UTC)
I vaguely remember an interview where he said that Delirium (from "Sandman") wrote her own lines, and that one scene in Sandman which is set in a strip club, came about when he was out for a friend's stag party and amused himself by "bringing in" some of his characters to the room, talking to them and watching their reactions. It did sound a lot like he does interact with them in some way.

(And I didn't say their experiences were irrelevant to the entire concept of soulbonding, I said I wasn't certain they were relevant to myprotagonist's paper on internet subcultures. Two different things, really.)
ex_suhina987 on December 19th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC)
True, my apologies.
igemelli on December 19th, 2007 09:08 pm (UTC)
No problem. Didn't want you to think I was just dismissing the idea out of hand; I do think it's relevant and should certainly be mentioned in any Soulbonding 101 site or similar.
igemelli on December 19th, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC)
As far as I can tell all the authors who've mentioned similar experiences seemed to think of it in a "my characters are very real to me, it's a creative thing" way, whereas myprotagonist's site seemed to focus on soulbonding as a) a paranormal belief and b) an online subculture, so while quoting well-known authors etc is great for a "what is soulbonding" type site, I'm not sure it'd be strictly relevant to this particular paper...
ex_suhina987 on December 19th, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
With the Bronte's I have to disagree. I'll see if I can find the particular essay I am thinking of, but I know it has been mentioned in a variety of offline resources as well.
igemelli on December 19th, 2007 09:00 pm (UTC)
Good point, I'd forgotten the Brontes. Possibly Anne Rice also, I'm not sure.

(... Although I suppose they still wouldn't really qualify as part of the "online soulbonding subculture", due to an unfortunate case of being dead.)
ex_suhina987 on December 19th, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC)
Ha! Most true!
myprotagonist on December 19th, 2007 09:18 pm (UTC)
Well, it does focus on the online aspect right now, but I don't see any reason why I couldn't expand it to include some of that sort of thing. It'll never really be a "Soulbonding 101" site, though, because that's for soulbonders to do, I guess.
Nicholeiamfiction on December 19th, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC)
Have you thought about drawing ties to Imaginary Companions in Adolescents?

There are lots of academic sources in regard to that.
myprotagonist on December 19th, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
EPIC WIN - I'ma use it
meiiikeee on December 19th, 2007 06:26 pm (UTC)
I would be delighted to help. Email me at meiiikeee@aim.com with any questions or prompts you may have. This could become a great resource for those who would like to learn more about the culture.
igemelli on December 19th, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
First: I don't really identify as a soulbonder, because although I do feel very connected to some fictional characters and often mentally talk to them, I don't believe I'm experiencing anything supernatural, don't subscribe to the "many-worlds" theory, etc., and don't really experience the "fronting" thing with any of them. I do find it to be something very important and meaningful to me, though, which is why I'm still in this community, because sometimes the topics here are relevant to me.

Leaving aside the "was it really necessary to use people's screen names without asking?" thing, which I see has already been brought up, I actually thought your site was pretty good; as an introduction for someone who's never heard of the subject before it seems to present the idea in a fairly understandable way, and I liked that you didn't, even subtly, take the OMG THEY HAVE NO REAL FRIENDS AND ARE CRAZY DELUDED GEEKS position. Like I said, I'm probably not in a position to offer personal accounts because I no longer really identify myself as a soulbonder, but if you do want to hear from a different perspective or anything, let me know.

(Deleted comment)
myprotagonist on December 19th, 2007 09:04 pm (UTC)
It's not really a matter of it being a "bit like soulbonding;" the "soulmate rather than soulbond" thing was, I think, just a bit of romance. It's not a matter of her not considering herself a soulbonder; she was trying to show that her and Sephie are way more than just friends. If I can get more accounts from more soulbonders, I'd like to have a page just for them, rather than just one.

And yeah, I know it's bad form to quote flocked posts and communities. Which is why, if you look at my citations, I specifically didn't.
myprotagonist on December 19th, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
And yeah, I know you guys probably aren't particularly fond of the married-to-characters people, but, FWIW, the particular variant to whom I spoke was extremely nice and didn't come across as flaky or insane at all. I can understand how a lot of people see it that way, though. I'll be honest; I went with her story because she was just so ridiculously friendly and cool to me. I guess I probably should have recognized that sort of thing is pretty controversial within the community.

Sister Venerable Machine Gun of Truthkangetsuhime on December 20th, 2007 12:06 am (UTC)
We don't frown on relationships-with-characters at all, but there are Mrs Sephiroth individuals out there who really, really, are not remotely an example of SoulBonding or Otakukin, and indeed can be quite... "different", so it's probably best to bear that in mind.
Sister Venerable Machine Gun of Truth: Default 4 - UWEkangetsuhime on December 20th, 2007 12:05 am (UTC)
The only faults I see with the rest of the content, at a brief glance, are the usage of Mrs Sephiroth, and saying many of us are unstable. I feel obliged to point out that while yes like most of humanity a large number of us have diagnosis or problems (of which, btw, many would argue AS is not one, merely a 'difference'), mental illness does not make one unstable. So perhaps another word may be in order.
myprotagonist on December 20th, 2007 12:22 am (UTC)
I was meaning to imply that large portions of humanity are unstable, hehe, not that everyone with a diagnosis is unstable; I should likely reword that. I don't really plan to get into the issues surrounding AS.
Sister Venerable Machine Gun of Truth: Default 3 - Shadowkangetsuhime on December 20th, 2007 01:56 am (UTC)
Perhaps you should have reworded it before it was "submitted to the involved parties, read, graded, and returned to you". But I suppose posting these things to the involved communities *before* commiting your words to record would be a little too sensible.
Asterism: Asterism: Meteors radiantasterism on December 20th, 2007 02:07 am (UTC)
On the quoting issue...

On topics as controversial as soulbonding and fictionkin, people can be very nervous about how their names are used. There's a reason why most posts in this community are friends-locked, after all, and it's only in part due to the comms like stupid_free. Many people are closeted about being bonders. Nowadays, with potential employeers Googling their job applicants, people are even more wary of having their names or even just chosen internet pseudonyms used in reference to a controversial idea. Naturally the responsibility for most of the safeguards rest with the poster, and we all need to be aware that text can very quickly move outside its intended arena on the internet. But it's also a matter of courtesy and respect. Conversations made among people who are like-minded and on the same page may have language shortcuts and casual references made that just don't translate when taken out of context into an academical paper, and that only serves to confuse the issue. Additionally, attitudes and beliefs can change over time, and what someone said even six months ago may no longer reflect their current stance on a matter, especially something such as this soulbonding experience.

Of course, many of us have reason to be wary of being interviewed anyway, given the potential spin that might be given to anything we have to say even by well-meaning people, let alone other possibilities. Let's face it; someone looking to dig up fresh dirt for a forum like PoE or stupid_free could just try to pose as a student writing a paper to encourage people to speak about their experiences...and then take the most "lol-worthy" comments out of context in their resulting exposé "Why Soulbonders Are Still Fucking Crazy."

So it puts people looking to get accurate perspectives from someone experiencing this phenomena between a rock and a hard place. We as a community of people been burned before, and we're not very willing to open up in case this is Yet Another Trolling Attempt. Yes, that means people are going to be defensive and are likely to pick apart anything that isn't sympathetic. But that's what happens.

You'll find yourself more likely to get voluntary accounts and information from soulbonders if you show that you respect us and our desires for privacy.
ethernauts on December 20th, 2007 05:18 pm (UTC)
I liked the page, as a whole; if you want some feedback or more personal accounts, feel free to contact us at quantumpirateNOSPAM@googlemail.com (removing the spam deterrent).

- Jack
Rynryntha_doghare on December 20th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)
Well, at first-read I classified it as something that would just make soulbonders seem "crazy", as many sites do already, and even after reading all the comments I'm afraid my opinion hasn't changed very much. I dislike it. If you took out Amanda, or at least did not use her as an intro to the article, it might be better.
igemelli on December 20th, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC)
I don't know Amanda personally or even have the vaguest idea who she is, but I have to say that I actually really like the fact that the site/essay referred to someone who was attractive, articulate and "could get any man she wants" or whatever the wording was; it makes a really nice change from the "Steve is 38, balding and still lives in his parents' basement, but he claims he isn't lonely at all because he's married to Sailor Moon" stereotype.
Rynryntha_doghare on December 21st, 2007 07:14 pm (UTC)
Hmm, you're right. That's definitely a nice change, but the entire thing about being married to a bond (no offence to anyone who is!) still leans dangerously towards the usual kind of feeling people will get. (namely, the "oh my gosh crazy people" feeling.) It's just something that automatically belongs in the category of things likely to make people frown with the concern for the human race.
Me: Maptallestpinecone on December 21st, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
Amanda belongs to a large (and growing) online community of people claim to be friends (or even lovers) of anime and manga-style characters, with whom they claim to have elaborate conversations on a daily basis.

This sentence embodies most of the issues I have with what you've written.

1. I think there's a word missing in "...online community of people claim to be friends." There's at least one other spot where there's a missing word. You may want to think about getting some better proofreaders.

2. You talk about soulbonding as though it wouldn't exist without online communities. For most of us, I think, we were soulbonders first, and then stumbled upon online communities, which we then (in many cases) joined because of similar interests. Until very recently, my personal experiences with soulbonding had absolutely nothing to do with the internet or being accustomed to "disembodied digital interactions," and I feel as though your article does not represent soulbonding in a way that encompasses this.

3. Many of us also have no connections to "anime and manga-style characters." I'm curious about why you've chosen to link soulbonding so closely with Japanese culture. For my part, I believe the number of anime/manga soulbonds is more a product of the number of anime/manga works that are popular right now. There's a huge number of Harry Potter-related soulbonds, too, but you didn't say, "claim to be friends [...] of J.K. Rowling's fictional characters." I don't think the identities of the 'bonds themselves are really very indicative of anything besides perhaps the types of media that people have access to.

In short, while I understand that the concept of soulbonding is extremely nebulous and different for everyone, I don't feel as though your article accurately covered any aspect of it besides, basically, the "Amanda-type." As other people have already mentioned, many soulbonders don't have experiences like Amanda, but your article seems to make it appear as though Amanda is representative of all soulbonders, and I'm sure many people that you've quoted or linked to - myself included - do not wish to be represented as something they're not.