Oh boy, I was tangentially responsible for your fall into the deep end? I can't express my sympathy with words.
For me, we must go way back to when I was in comprehensive school, perhaps 15 years ago. It was a dark and stormy eve, I had found the accursed artifact programme: RPG Maker XP. I joined a few communities to share resources and ideas, and ended up patron on a smaller site with a more closely-knit community. Now, even before all of this, I was quite shamefully involved with the Sonic Recolour Sprite Comics Scene™, but had no idea what a furry was. It was on this new forum that someone told me about it.
I of course thought they were talking absolute bollocks. What a weirdo.
But it lit a fire in me! Oh yes, the flames of curiosity burn bright, fellow readers! So I googled furry. Of course, the biggest thing there was "FURCADIA".
Spent a few years on there, moved to SL, spent a few years there, moved to FP, spent more than a few years there. I used to go to meets and such but..
Now, I'm not exactly the most socially adept person. Not by a long shot. But even my comparative social ineptitude was dwarfed by the people who frequented meets in my area. So I don't go to those any more.