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There is no one single meaning of what a furry is. Even within the furry fandom, people cannot always agree on just what makes a person a furry or not.
Some would argue that to be a furry, you must think and talk like one (i.e. use furry specific words and phrases). Even if you visit conventions, wear a fursuit, draw the art, writes the stories etc but don't talk using furry lingo, you're not a furry. Basically, somebody that may walk the walk but doesn’t talk the talk.
Others would debate that even liking anthropomorphic creatures makes you a furry. You may have no idea the furry fandom exists or have ever heard of a furry convention, let alone any of the websites; simply liking 'anthro' critters makes you a furry.
The way I see it, if or if you don’t consider yourself a furry is a matter of personal opinion.
As with any hobby, most furries are normal people much like anyone you'll meet at work/school or likely to/from work/school or anywhere. Then there is the small percent that are hard core fans and have taken what for the majority of is a hobby and perverted it (sometimes in an all to literal sense).
As is also with so many other activities in life, the few that take it too much tend to be the loudest. The silent majority are often forced into silence by the loud majority for fear that people will label them as being in the same class because the minority that have perverted it.
One unfortunate side effect of the internet as well as the relative anonymity that some sites grant their users is people have the ability to engage in activities (even if only on a virtual level) that they would never even consider doing in real life. An example of this is trolls of discussion boards that say things to people they’d never say for them in person. I think a lot of the stereotypes associated with furries are for this reason.
In conclusion, just like any hobby, there are some furries that have taken it too far or perverted what for many is a fun harmless hobby.