So Cynthia Rivers is a gold-tailed internet-loving techie mermaid who runs her own mermaid blog and mermaid groups on Facebook and in Second Life (where she also provides a resource page for you virtual realists). Since the internet has been such a huge factor in the creation of the mermaid community as it stands now, bringing together so many shimmering hybrid souls, I asked Cynthia a bit about her online activities (and even asked her to explain Second Life) as well as her real-world mermaidly proclivities.
Our tantalizing Q and A follows.
So what is it that draws you to mermaids and mermaiding?
Like many others I have met, I believe that I have had a mermaid soul since I was very young. Once I saw the movie Splash and read a magazine article about Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs, I was hooked. I grew up near the ocean in New England, my sign is Pisces, and my birthstone is aquamarine. The sea has been calling me for a long time. Mermaids represent a connection with the seas, the mysterious and playful, and the feminine.
You have started a mermaid group on Facebook and now are doing a mermaid blog. How have you seen this community grow, and how do you think the internet has facilitated this growth?
I was a late-comer to Facebook. After a short time, I had a few mermaid friends there and wanted a way to keep track of them. I started the Facebook group “Merfolk” and it has grown to 81 members. There are now a number of merfolk themed groups on Facebook.
In the last few years, I have collected quite a bit of information on mermaids: web sites, video links, well known mermaids, books, movies, and so on. The blog is a way of sharing this information with everyone, and I have seen my readership grow steadily since I started the blog in late December. We mermaids are quite popular.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow us to find other mermaids and share photos and information. We no longer believe that we’re the only mermaid in a world of land-walkers. I have mentioned the MerNetwork forum a number of times in my blog. The forum is a valuable resource for finding and sharing information on buying or creating a mermaid tail.
A number of merfolk fans are doing web searches for “mermaid” and soon find out that there is an active mermaid community. When they find out that they too can join in, their lives are forever changed. They may start with children’s birthday parties, and move on to modeling and corporate events.
Can you tell me more about your online mermaid activities?
I got into mermaiding in the virtual world of Second Life in late 2007. I was showing a friend the gold mermaid tail that I bought inworld and soon afterwards my mermaid soul came to life. I started a Second Life group ‘Gold Mermaid’ and quickly found a few friends that were interested in joining. I wanted to do more, however. I purchased the domain goldmermaid.com and started writing articles on cities and towns of New England from the perspective of a mermaid. I moved and shipped my car across country using www.crosscountrycarshipping.com, settling in. My last article in the series was number 65 in November of 2010.
I had thought about doing a blog for a few months before I actually started doing it. I enjoy putting it together, and it has allowed me to meet some great merfolk. I am always on the lookout for mermaid related news as well as merfolk to interview. You can find my blog at http://cynthiamermaid.blogspot.com.
In addition to my own mermaid group in Second Life, I joined a group there called Safe Waters Foundation. We have weekly meetings, and one member of the group puts out a weekly newsletter. I am an officer in the group, and also maintain the group’s web site. Safe Waters Foundation specializes in helping new Second Life merfolk find the resources they need to enjoy the virtual seas. An important decision for me was to choose to join this group, rather than trying to compete with it.
What exactly is Second Life?
Second Life is a virtual world built by its residents. Here, your avatar can create just about anything from clothing to houses to landscapes. There are a number of folks that create mermaid tails and accessories such as hairstyles and jewelry. I did a blog post on Second Life a while back that has some screen shots.
How does your mermaid group work?
In Second Life, those interested in becoming a mermaid or merman often need some guidance to get started. They are also interested in meeting other merfolk. The mermaid groups provide the necessary guidance and provide an opportunity to hear about events and gatherings of interest to the community. Live music events are very popular in Second Life, and they can be held underwater just as easily as on land.
When you say you bought a gold mermaid tail, do you mean on Second Life or in real life?
Second Life first, then in real life.
How did you move from online mermaiding into actual mermaiding?
After joining Facebook, and using it to learn more about the real-life mermaid community, I looked into purchasing a tail. The cost had held me back in the past.
How often do you actually swim in a tail now?
I have a pool in the back yard that I use regularly in the warmer months. The pool was a big selling point for the house! I don’t swim with my tail as often as I would like, as it is a bit too big for me.
What was your Mercon experience like? Have you been to any other mermaid gatherings?
Mercon 2011 has been the only mermaid gathering that I have been able to attend so far. I really enjoyed my time there. It was my first opportunity to meet and swim with other merfolk. I also enjoyed meeting you and the other authors. I will always remember the guy at the pizza place off the hotel’s casino floor. He saw my mermaid themed tee shirt and asked if I was with the convention. Then he asked if I believed in mermaids. “I have to,” I replied, “I am one.”
Do you feel that you’ve changed, as a person, since becoming a mermaid?
I would have to say that I have. I feel more connected to the ocean, and more aware of environmental issues. I continually try to keep a positive outlook as I have become a representative of the merfolk community, as many of us have. Each of us in the community finds that we are often the first mermaid or merman that people meet. Having a positive personality is essential in keeping the magic alive.
Do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
Don’t wait any longer, dive in and get your tail wet! There is a wealth of information out there, and your mer-sisters and brothers are here to guide you. Whether you decide of make your own tail or buy one, do the necessary research. This will save time and heartbreak in the future. Be safe in the water, and always have your Mertender handy as a lifeguard… and photographer! Most merfolk love getting their picture taken.