Another Blog Bites The Dust, Or: Why I’m Stepping Down From Social Media.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

When I was twenty, I loved Howard Stern, so the essays I wrote for the college newspaper were ripoffs of his ridiculously self-revelatory radio show. If you went on the show, nothing was sacred – you’d reveal the embarrassing arguments you had with your wife, you’d discuss your weirdo quirks, you’d share your most humiliating secrets.

So that’s what I did: I wrote about myself.

And when I got my own website in 1997, I put some of those old essays up on my site, and got a mild following for That Guy Who Wrote The Wildly Personal Essays. Which continued into LiveJournal and FetLife, where I continued to expose my life for the education and entertainment and occasional punishment of crowds, until one day I hit fifty and I realized:

Why am I still living by Howard Stern rules?

Now, if I’d revealed ridiculously intimate details of my mental health and sex life and my relationships for thirty years and I felt people had a good bead on who I was, I’d probably consider that a win. But I don’t feel that they do.

At one point recently, someone reviewed a book of mine by saying something like “Ferrett sells a lot of books, seemingly because he’s a nice guy” – which is a thought I’ve been pondering a lot lately.

I can be a nice guy. I try to be. Every day I work hard to be better than the raging asshole I was in my early twenties.

Yet still: I’m intensely human, with three barriers to work with – I’m not the most socially adept person on the planet, I’m towing years of ciswhitedudely privilege that I keep unpacking one block at a time, and I have severe mental illnesses that get in the way.

All those buried assumptions mean that I can – and do – fuck up and hurt people I care about.

And on the occasions I’ve tried to write honestly about those fuckups – to say, “Hey, I was a total shithead here, please learn from my mistakes” – I almost always got misinterpreted, with well-intentioned defenders covering for me (with that old infected bandage of “You meant well”) or the folks who disliked me assuming I was trying to cover for me, because Ferrett is a nice guy and he means well and aren’t his words comforting? Maybe a little too comforting?

For years, I’ve felt like I’ve been slowly losing some remnant of my humanity – what I’d like to be seen is as a flawed human who has some pretty monumental errors to overcome, but instead what all-too-often gets passed around is “Ferrett is cool” – and while I do try to be cool to as many people as I can, with the number of people I interact with, I’m pretty much guaranteed to step on someone’s foot.

And I felt that the image I’m presenting was all too often being reduced to either “Ferrett’s a great guy” or “Ferrett is a monster pretending to be a great guy,” and neither is close to the human truth of “Ferrett has a decent batting average, but let’s not pretend he’s an all-star either.”

(And if that’s how you’ve interpreted me all along… thank you. Sincerely. Thank you.)

I’ve been working with my therapist on that for almost two years now, and increasingly feeling like a fraud. I’ve grown to dislike the public persona. I feel it’s a shallow and reductive idea of who I am. I don’t want some arbitrary image of me to become a marketing tool.

So why not stop?

On Monday, I’ll abandon my Twitter account, shut down Facebook and FetLife, and stop blogging (with one exception that I’ll discuss).

I’m really scared.

The Internet is where I make my friends. The Internet is where I find out about all those cool memes. The Internet is where I find the new and cool books, where I find out about the public crises of the day, where I find clever jokes.

But the social side of the Internet is where I also feel like I’m exuding a persona, and despite two years of trying to unentangle that persona, I haven’t gotten closer to a solution.

I don’t know what I’ll do with all that free time. I know how many hours a day I spend reflexively checking into Twitter, chatting with buddies. If you have a group chat of people who know me and could use a Ferrett, well, I’d like the company.

(Ironically, the place I feel most comfortable is Facebook, where I’m mostly with my friends, but Facebook is also totally fucking evil and I was planning on shutting it down come New Years’ Eve anyway, so that’s gone.)

If you and I have talked beforehand and you’d like to continue to talk afterwards, well, my email address is, and if you have my number, well, you have my number. Maybe I’ll transition to secret Slack servers and be just as content.

But if I’m not, I’ll get by.

Another issue: the Internet is also where I’ve been meeting my partners – and I think that has to stop, too.

Because I met my wife online, I used to think that you could judge compatibility through texts and emails, and so when we went poly I was happy to have near-strangers down for a test weekend to see whether our smooching was compatible – and while the communications usually went well on both sides, occasionally they really, disastrously didn’t, so I stopped having people over. Then I started flirting at kink conventions, and again, that usually went well, but there were a couple of occasions where I inadvertently pressured people, so I stopped that.

And while I have a handful of fulfilling sexual relationships I have gleaned from meeting people on the Internets (and thank you if you’re one of them), the Internet courtship means there’s often not enough real-life time to work problems out, leading to relationships which go really well until we need to hash out complex problems that don’t do well with texted words or cold phone calls. (Also see: mental health issues, on either side of the equation.) That’s led to some relationships that turned out to be fairly traumatic, if not downright abusive, for me.

And that last paragraph reveals another problem with dating while being a public persona: It could describe several of my relatonships, and yet any of my exes who read that might think it was specifically targeted at them. Blogging about personal issues without revealing personal details has been a continual landmine as long as I’ve written about polyamory, and there comes a point where the public discussions wind up hurting people who think that’s aimed at them – even if it’s not.

If I’ve been flirting with you, please – continue to flirt. But I’m going to be far more cautious in moving forward (and it’s not like it was easy before).

And when writing, or teaching, about polyamory becomes an active hindrance to fulfilling personal relationships, well, sorry, I gotta choose. So rather than risking people feeling called out by an essay that might not have even been about them, that aspect of my life’s gotta die on the vine.

Note that I haven’t said I’ll be off the Internet forever. Because I’m still writing books. I’ve got my new book AUTOMATIC RELOAD due out sometime in May, and I’ll doubtlessly be writing essays to remind you of it and saying “Hi I’m here” because, well, that’s what authors gotta do.

And I may write a few personalish essays when I get back, because that’s what reminds you I’m alive come the Novel.

But my hope is that going dark for a few months will burn some of this need to perform out of me. It’s not you, as the saying goes, it’s me. It’s all too easy when I’m having a bad day to turn to the brightness of social media, to say “HEY PAY ATTENTION TO ME” and get the attention that maybe’s not healthy.

The goal is for that to be gone, or at least to massively lessen the overlap between my personal and my public life. I may fail at that. (Also see: Human.) But I can at least give it a try.

If you’d like to stay in touch, the one place I will commit to writing once a month at it is in my personal newsletter. I’ll keep you informed there, so subscribe if you’d like the opportunity to see me nerding out about weird things.

And, as noted, if you already know me and feel like chatting privately or group chats, I’m amenable. I just don’t wanna be OMG FERRETT IS HERE, but rather “Hey! Good to see you.”

In any case, I’m leaving things up over the weekend so if anyone wants to know what happened, it’s out long enough to propagate.

And if I don’t catch you… have a great goddamned day.


  1. Anita
    Dec 5, 2019

    Good luck. My opinion is that even in person, we project only facets of ourselves (often quite a different one to each person we encounter), and those narrow, stilted peepholes aren’t necessarily any better indicators of Who We Really Are than the public-at-large is getting of you through your writings. Misunderstandings in real life happen just as frequently and are just as difficult (or even impossible) to correct. I’ve enjoyed reading you and getting MY personal peephole into Who You Might Possibly Be (a different animal than Who You Really Are, I’m aware), and will miss you.

  2. Yet Another Laura H.
    Dec 5, 2019


    I’ll miss you. (And Anonymous Alex. Alex, wherever you are, whoever you are, I want you to know that you’re awesome.)

    I don’t know if you’ll read this. Probably not: you’re probably inundated over at Fet, and good for you for practicing self-care! But I want to toss a bottled message into the void and say thank you. I discovered your blog at a time when I had done some majorly, majorly fucked-up things, while doing my absolute best within the majorly, majorly fucked-up guidelines that society and fandom and my family of origin had given me. In a historical moment where certain sorts of fuckups were seem as irredeemable, you gave me hope that I could become a better person and literally kept me alive.

    When I was told I was a shitty person for existing in a public space and letting nerds get crushes on me and NOT somehow managing to make time for lifelong romances with every single one of them, whether or not I thought that would be a good thing for me and my loved ones (or getting tired of the constant barrage of meatspace Spam), you went through the journey of becoming okay with crushworthy women not existing solely to fuck you, and I got to watch that and stop beating myself up for not wanting to be what people thought they wanted me to be, and not just because they were wrong.

    You weren’t perfect. As time went on, it became clear that you were most probably an absolutely terrible metamour to my best friend (although that was an entirely awful situation unto itself).

    You were usually entertaining and a source of many great recommendations to me.

    I met a friend who is very dear to me through you. Thanks for Li.

    You meant a lot to me.

    Have a good one. You deserve a good one.

    • Anonymous Alex
      Dec 5, 2019

      Gosh, I was just gonna post my own “goodbye and thanks,” but didn’t expect to be called out. Thank you, and you’re pretty cool, yourself.


  3. lexica510
    Dec 5, 2019

    Warm regards and best wishes to you! While I’ll miss seeing your words online, this sounds like a good thing for you to be doing. I’ve signed up for your newsletter and look forward to hearing from you that way.

  4. Anonymous Alex
    Dec 5, 2019

    So goodbye and thanks. I’m a little sad, but your decision certainly makes sense.

    I hope this disconnecting is successful in making you feel more like yourself. You certainly deserve that (most everyone does, but especially the people who don’t get it as much).


  5. Lmenekse
    Dec 6, 2019

    Hey Ferrett,

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past… decade, it feels like. I never said anything because I liked listening to you. I was tempted around your heart attack or when you were going through tough times but, I don’t know, it felt like it would break the spell or something. But I guess this is as good as any.

    I grew up in a third world dictatorship in the Middle East and I don’t remember how I found my way onto your blog, but I sometimes joke to my wife that you’ve influenced me more than my parents did. I looked up to you and I still do. Not because you are perfect, but because you interrogate who you are constantly and change (or try to change) when you don’t like what you see. You’re open minded and vulnerable and, well, that’s the opposite of any other male role model I came across. You always say you’re good at winning arguments because you are good at arguing, but I always felt like you are good at arguments because you genuinely dig for different perspectives on any given issue. Not to use them as ammo but because you’re curious.

    Anyway, I don’t want to pile on with compliments when you feel like the perception of your public persona is part of the problem — but I wanted you to know that your musings/revelations/fun anecdotes/somewhat obsessive self and societal examinations have meant a great deal to me. Obviously you shouldn’t keep doing it if you feel like it’s unhealthy but I wrote this all out because I wanted to let you know it held value. For me at least.

    I wish you the best. Take care of yourself.

  6. Kaj Sotala
    Dec 6, 2019

    And I felt that the image I’m presenting was all too often being reduced to either “Ferrett’s a great guy” or “Ferrett is a monster pretending to be a great guy,” and neither is close to the human truth of “Ferrett has a decent batting average, but let’s not pretend he’s an all-star either.”

    For what it’s worth, I always figured that “X is a great guy” basically meant the same thing as “X has a decent batting average, but let’s not pretend he’s an all-star either”, since who of us would be perfect anyway. I don’t think the concept of all-stars really makes sense outside narrow domains like sports; in real life we all have areas where we’re fuck-ups.

    Anyway, thank you for all of your writing. Regardless of who or what you are as a person, your essays have been tremendously valuable to me, which is the reason why I’ve been following you for at least seven years. The ones about not always believing what your brain tells you, as well as an old post about the distinction between loving, liking and trusting someone (don’t know if you remember it), have been particularly important to me.

  7. Mark Dijkstra
    Dec 6, 2019

    I’ll miss you and your writing a bit, but good to hear you’re taking care of youself. I started reading your stuff when you were still writing for starcity on multiplayer Magic. The Survivor column was particularly apt. And one of you articles there was seminal in how I approached my nerd-dom. It was a column about how you should be proud about the things you love, rather than ashamed (I believe it was the Rocky Horror Picture Show for you). It really resonated with me, and helped me become a more complete person. From then on, I would no longer timidly answer the question of what I did with ‘nothing much’, but told everyone that I’d had an awesome time at a D&D sleepover. Some people would snub me, but by and large people responded very enthousiastically. Your essay was instrumental in this and for this I’ll always remember your writing fondly.
    I also thought your essays on your site were hilarious (I was twenty at the time) – I’m still smiling thinking back at the Smearer. And I followed most of your blogs on Livejournal and your own site. There have been great essays there as well, your last one on inviting friends when you were an ackward teenager really resonated with me.
    This is just to say: I’m happy you blogged so much for so long and so well. You made a difference in my life. Thank you. Please be happy, you deserve it!

  8. hellenrees
    Dec 6, 2019

    I love you. You do what you need to heal yourself, sugar. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

    Kiss that gorgeous wife of yours for me.


  9. Sara Harvey
    Dec 6, 2019

    I will MISS YOU. PLEASE promise to keep up via email.

  10. J.D. Moyer
    Dec 7, 2019

    I’ve greatly enjoyed reading your blog for many years and I’ll miss it (and I’m glad you’re not shutting it down entirely). Good luck with the new novel and I hope to catch your next reading in the Bay Area.

  11. Impy
    Dec 14, 2019

    I’m disappointed that the body of your past work has disappeared from FetLife (or perhaps merely been rendered inaccessible). I was following your writing there but never sent a friend request since I don’t really know you. I hope you kept the work backed up somewhere, as a writer I would be horrified to up and delete years of my own writing, and there may come a day when you feel that past pieces would be better off public after all. Some of the pieces you’ve written have been a good resource, a good way to get thinking about different aspects of relationships and polyamory, and I’m sad that I can no longer read them or recommend them to others.

    That said, I understand needing to pull back from the public eye, and I wish you all success with processing that fraud feeling. I was firmly one of the, “Ferret is probably decent, but human,” crowd, so perhaps perception wasn’t actually so polarized as the comments you received might have led you to believe. Remember that us neutralish folks don’t tend to speak up about it.

    • The Ferrett
      Dec 16, 2019

      It’s temporarily inaccessible. Which was, sadly, unavoidable, as I kept getting harassed by spambots on Fet and their algorithm recommending me to people and getting new emails, so I had to disable.

      However, most of my significant essays got cross-posted, so hopefully that helps soften the blow a bit.

  12. Paul N
    Dec 24, 2019

    I am also sorry to see you go, although you have been winding down for a while now.

    I just wanted to write that you have been influential on me over the years — not because I saw you as a hero or a villain, but I saw (see) you both a kindred spirit and somebody whose life is completely alien to me. I learned a lot from your blog over the years, so thank you for that.

    Also thanks to Anonymous Alex, who demonstrated that the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory does not always hold. I miss your presence a lot too.

    • Anonymous Alex
      Dec 28, 2019

      Well, I didn’t expect to get called out once, let alone twice. Thank you. Since the opportunity has now presented itself, I’m going to make a small request:

      If anyone knows of a forum akin to what this was, I’d appreciate a pointer to it.

      Ferrett’s withdrawal had reminded me of what I’d lost since LJ went Russian: not just his essays, but the community beneath them. Which, for me, was an echo of other online communities I’d been in prior (a website or two, certain corners of usenet, that BBS my friend set up). I’m not sure where, or whether, such communities exist anymore–particularly ones where an anonymous person like me could join. But if they’re out there, I would love to know.

      I’ll keep checking back here occasionally. This identity doesn’t have a real email address, so any answers will get to me here better than anywhere else I can think of.

      • Anonymous Alex
        Dec 28, 2019



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