Story Time: My Path Through the Vampiric Community

About a decade ago, I wrote an essay that I jokingly titled “What I did over my summer vacation AKA How I became a donor”. Things have changed drastically in the community since I wrote that, let alone since I first found the community roughly 20 years ago. Heck, I’m on the third computer since that essay and my 5th hard drive. I might have the essay somewhere on a hard drive that isn’t dead. There’s likely a version floating around the internet somewhere, but it’s really out of date, so, this is a take on that, but more updated to fit today’s community and how we interact now.

I’ve sat on a precarious perch, one foot in the vampiric community, one foot out. I am not a vampire, though I have family, friends, and loved ones who are. I am not a “normal human”, “mundane”, “vanilla”, “nil”, or whatever colorful term people use these days to describe those who are not other. I’m otherkin (fae class, to be precise) so I can empathize, to a point, what vampires go through, feeling different in society. The road that I took for me to accept that part of me was rocky, to say the least. I can’t even imagine how much harder it is/was for vampiric people. So, as the kids these days say, story time.

I became actively aware that the vampire community was a thing when I was a young teen (around the age of 14, when I was able to access the internet without parental supervision), and it kept figuratively hitting me upside the head until I became an active member. I can honestly say, save for family, at first, I thought it was (pardon my language) a crock of shit. It was the late 90’s, Vampire: The Masquerade was not only a popular role-playing game but a show on television. All the kids in my circle of friends were into role-playing games, and V:tM was the newest cool thing. My character was a Toreador (almost always, if I have the choice, I’ll lean bard with the occasional dabble in Ranger/Cleric classes). I wanted to flesh out my character a bit, but since my father wouldn’t buy me the player manual I got on the internet, back BG, “Before Google”, and innocently searched for vampires. One of the first pages to come up was Sanguinarius’s site: http://www.sanguinarius.org. Honestly? At first, I thought it was, pardon my language, a crock of shit. “Someone’s going way too far down the rabbit hole” kind of thoughts. I refined my search, got the information I needed to fill out my character sheet and bio, and went on my merry way. Then I needed to look up some information about paganism. For some odd reason, up again came Sangi’s site. An online pagan radio station (we would call it a podcast these days since it was prerecorded, and you downloaded the mp3 to listen on your computer at your leisure) mentioned her site in the show. A website I wrote silly stories on had an article about vampirism that sourced her site. It was like the universe was trying to hit me upside the head with “Oi! Vampires! They’re important to you!”

My brother came out to me as being a psychic vampire during that time period. I eventually figured out that I was otherkin. The pieces all started to fall into place. I became a donor for my brother and a friend, another psychic vampire. We experimented with energy work. The fun thing we used to do to practice was energy ball hacky sack. (Like I said, it was the late 90’s. Hacky sacks were popular.) We did what we could to survive high school, and moved on to adulthood as we gradually graduated, myself being the youngest of the bunch. After graduation, my brother and I founded a House for our friends to find shelter and share ideas, help each other, what have you. It’s what a House does. By this point, my brother had joined the military, and through an internet chatroom, we found others like us scattered across the world (mostly also in the military, but some of us weren’t). This led me back to scrolling through the internet, looking for resources for our House and educating myself further, bringing me back full circle to Sangi and her website. A few years later, forums were super popular, so I joined hers.

If you haven’t looked at her forum through the years, hers was divided up into groups, like all were. There was the introduction area, the news area the silly area, then she and her moderators divided up the different members by what they were in the community. Sang, psy, donors, we all had segments. One public (everyone from the different groups could see the posts there), and one private (members of that classification and moderators only could see). I eventually graduated up to being a moderator there, myself. Thanks to those privileges, I could see a little deeper into the minds of vampires, since I could see into the private areas. This both fascinated and horrified me. I wasn’t a vampire. Part of me wished that they (the vampires) could feel comfortable to post these thoughts in the public area, but the other part of me was like “I’m not one of them, I shouldn’t be seeing this. The other mods aren’t like me, so should they be seeing our private area?” This spurred me to create my own website and forum (now defunct, though I still own the URL), and Sangi, who by then was my dear friend, christened it her sister site and forum, the donor version of her vampire site.

This had it’s own ups and downs. Some people in the community loved the idea. A safe place for donors to discuss things about being a donor, without the prying eyes of non-donors, it was new. And, yes, we had a segment for the vampires, and they had their private subforums. But the thing that stuck in people’s proverbial craws was that there were no vampire moderators or administrators. All four of us original founders and therefore mods and admins were donors. Not vampiric in any way (other than my energy signature can confuse people at times). They had this idea that my website, my forum (my name is the one on the bills), was a vampire site and therefore a vampire should be in charge. The fact that we refused more than annoyed people. Thankfully, we had people who cheered us on.

Eventually, through my work at Sangi’s and my own forums, plus some other locations, I was nominated and accepted as a member of the Voices of the Vampiric Community aka VVC. Since then, I’ve spoken at the New Orleans Vampire Association (NOVA)’s Cirque Du Nuit and at the House Kheperu Gather about being a donor and our side of the vampiric equation. I’ve had the list of vampires that I donate to change, some of whom are no longer a part of my life, though I wish them well. I’ve had a fairly lucky life when it comes to being a member of this great community. It’s had its fair share of ups and downs. I’ve had death threats, I’ve had stalkers, I’ve had my inbox inundated with “Can you find me the Edward to my Bella?” and “How do you become a vampire?”. I’ve also had “You helped me realize who I am, thank you,” and “Thank you for the inspiration, I want to change our community for the better like you did”. You have to take the bad with the good, but, as the Doctor said, “The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”

People will always find things to harp on, poke at, until someone turns into a grumpy bear and roars. Not everyone operates in the community in the same way, and that’s okay. As long as no one is coming to harm in any way through what is done, my thoughts are “Whatever floats your boat.” I’m not saying I’m perfect, that I don’t have a temper, or that I don’t have opinions that cross others opinions, but I try my best, and that’s honestly all that we can expect from one another. A common thing said is that trying to get the vampiric community to agree on anything is like herding cats. For example, we, as a community, have never fully glommed onto the idea of using the term vampire. There are segments of the community who would say that those like me, non-vampiric people, shouldn’t have access to any part of it. Obviously, I don’t agree with that, but I’ll just tell people why. We all, vampires, otherkin, donors, “none of the above” but are pulled into the community through ties to any of the former… We are a community, for better or for worse. In the past 20 odd years that I’ve known that this was a thing, I’ve seen it grow, change, evolve… From ads and articles in goth ‘zines, to flashy blinky sites with a scrolling marquee, to forums, to Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. I remember the “kindervamps” (what Sangi used to call the under 21 crowd in the community) being all obsessed with the Twilight franchise, Vampire Freaks, and having “raccoon tails” dyed into their emo styled hair. I remember fights with my brother over the color scheme for our first House website because he might have better fashion sense when it comes to clothes, his color sense when it comes to web design is horrific. AIM chats with friends in the community over the latest news/gossip have now evolved into DM’s on Twitter or Facebook messenger.

The one thing about us as a community is that we are adaptable. We tend to go with the flow, no matter what new thing is thrown at us. Some groups are reverting back to how it was before the internet and social media became what they are, and going back to being a purely offline thing, with meetings and social gatherings. Some groups still use the feudal system of governance: Kings, Queens, Regents, etc., and that works for them. Other groups are more of a democracy, with elected officers that change on a set basis, and that works for them. Some have never associated with an organized group and never will. Cool.

That’s not to say that we are perfect. We are a highly defensive group of people. If someone says something that goes against our personal worldview, quite often our first response is lash out and think that whatever was said is a personal attack against us. It’s always been like that, unfortunately, and we’ve never, as a whole, learned how to get past this flaw. In the preface to this article, I said that its inspiration was written about a decade ago, so I posit this challenge for our community for the next decade: ease down your defenses and don’t be so quick to lash out at opinions that differ from yours. Again, I don’t think we’re perfect. We’ll have upsets and squabbles. But we, as a people, can focus on improving ourselves. I look forward to the next decade with my friends and family in this big crazy community.

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It’s Not About You…

IfTheShoeFits

Morgan Freeman image and quote found at Memegenerator.net

It seems the content created by the Grumpy Vamp team is striking a nerve or three in the GVC. Trust Grumpy when I say I am both amused and delighted that our blog is getting so much attention and sparking discussion. This blog may be new, but the team’s collective experience spans decades in the vampire culture. Whether you love Grumpy or love to hate Grumpy, the point of this blog is to provide an outlet for “old timers” in the vampire culture to present our views and experiences so that others can learn from them. We may be salty af, but we know our stuff.

So far, all of the Grumpy Vamp team lives in the United States, so our perspective is going to be somewhat US-centric. Don’t get it twisted – we recognize each area will have its own unique flavor just as there will be individuals who have different experiences than we do. That’s all fine and dandy, but some issues are so common they’re nearly universal.

As our platform grows, we’re bound to run up against narcissistic fucks who think we’re vagueblogging about them. We’re not. We don’t call out specific individuals, we call out trends we see in the culture.

That being said, if you think we’re talking about you, well, you just might be right. Maybe you should sit with that for a minute and contemplate your life choices.

Ageism and the Greater Vampire Community

age·ism
[ˈājˌizəm]

NOUN
  1. prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age.
    “ageism in recruitment is an increasing problem”

 

 

Ageism has been a thing in the GVC for quite a few years now.  Sadly, this issue is NOT going to go away any time soon.

There was a time, when I first entered the community that it didn’t matter WHAT your age was, for the most part.  Indeed, I was, as I have recounted several times before, 13 when I first entered the Vampire Community as a FULL member.  I was taken under wing by a woman who was fully in her 30s, and there was a man who was above her in his 50s.  These things, in the past, were commonplace.  It was common for people to “give respect” to their “elders”, as well.  This system of functionality worked for decades.  It was the foundation that gave the burgeoning community its strength to fight the negative connotations of the name chosen to represent what we are and what we do.  Indeed, such words as “leech”, “symbiont”, and a whole host of others were debated upon, to all be tossed aside for the moniker, “vampire”.  Even then, our predatory nature was taken into account and accommodated for what it was that we did… “Live off of the living, breathing life-force of others” (as was taught to me by my first Elder, Ashanti Whitemantle).

This was fine throughout the 70s, 80s, and even into the 90s until… Enter one each club promoter and vampire fan…  Suddenly, there was a marked change in the way the “scene” laid things out.  It was no longer correct to be a person above the age of 30 and be in the community (this age has changed as promoters of events have grown older, however, it still is an underlying factor).  When I first stepped out of the shadows and began to work openly (at 25), I was told by certain members of the community that I had “limited viability” (Again, repeating mistakes made by the Gay Community, so I tend to draw a LOT of parallels).  It is as if people who are 30, 40, 50 or older no longer have a right to live, let alone celebrate the life that they have or have had.  This, formally, by way of the harsh treatment that many older community members get by the “thin-blooded, thin-skinned, overly demanding fledglings”, is AGEISM.  Pushing members out of the community because they simply don’t meet your unrealistic expectations of an age limit, is both heinous and FULLY a form of bigotry that is growing within the community.

No longer do we, as a community, celebrate the accomplishments of the older members of the community.  No longer do we, as a community, treat them with dignity and respect for the fights that THEY have had to fight so that the younger members of the community can continue to do their little party promotions and activities.  No longer do we, as a community, accept their experiences as a form of foundation for our own to grow on and move into the next level.

Ageism cripples the GVC on a nigh daily basis.  You can see this at EVERY major event thrown FOR the community.  There is nothing available for those who are no longer into the “stripper bar” way of life.  There is nothing for those who are no longer into the “bar” scene on any level.  (To add to this, there is nothing that is even NON-ALCOHOLIC for our brothers and sisters in addiction recovery at these events)…

Think about it.  I am soon to be 52.  I STILL enjoy getting on the dancefloor and shaking the dust off my ass to music, both past and present, for my OWN reasons.  I STILL enjoy celebrating life and meeting new people (and reacquainting with old friends).  I STILL enjoy living.  Curmudgeon though I am becoming, I STILL enjoy living. AND THERE ARE OTHERS LIKE ME OUT THERE IN THE GVC!!!

So.  Why the sour grapes when someone over the age of (currently) 40 speaks on their experiences within the community?  Why the sudden need to flock to just one person’s experiences over the more than 30 GVC members that fall in the 40+ category? Even as recent as March 24th, 2016, there has been a young person in the community disparaging “old people”.  How we are not part of the future progress of the community.  Really?  REALLY???  Are you fucking nuts?

First.  If it WEREN’T for the fact that we bled, sweat, and cried over self-identity and the creation of “safe places” for us to gather, there would be NO COMMUNITY.  No matter WHO claims to be the mother or father of the community… We would still be slinking around the outskirts of the BDSM community like some sort of parasitic growth, meeting in secret, as if we were ashamed of who and what we are.  We FOUGHT so that the “thin-blooded fledglings” can be self entitled little disrespectful shits towards us??  Not this faggot.  I FOUGHT so that I could enjoy the community, events, people, and places that I go to.  I FOUGHT, fang and claw, to step out of the shadows and break away from a group that was solely dedicated to secrecy and keeping its doors closed to be shut out by a group of little “flitters” that just crawled out of the bat closet screaming for recognition in the big, bad community that they haven’t done one damned thing to EARN that recognition.
The truly sad part in all of this is the fact that one of the CURRENT people calling for this stupid shit is a young man who hasn’t bothered to be part of the community, nor help with anything in the local community except ONE thing in which perceived slights happened that angered him, so now he is taking out on anyone in the community that will not bow down and kiss his ass when he makes an overgeneralized, broad-stroked, all encompassing statement that are just factually inaccurate.  He assumes, like so many of the younger people out there in the community, that EVERY Elder equates to the same person(s) who he perceived slights from.

Second.  I may not agree with EVERY community leader out there (and lord knows that I am an opinionated old fart), however, I respect their work for what it is… THEIR WORK.  I have had more than my share of run ins (sometimes like rams clashing in the mountains) with Elders who I feel have diametrically opposed views, however, I have ALWAYS respected them (though I can be terse at times, given health issues and/or lack of sleep).  Even if we have ended up in heated arguments (no other word for it) and been on diametrically opposed sides of an issue.  Lady CG, CJ, Deacon Gray, to name a few… *shrug*  That is just the way I am and I see NO reason to change this any time in the near future.

Third.  Riding on the coattails of those who came before you without acknowledging that they are still active and choose to remain active within the community is like cutting off your feet and trying to run on the bloody stumps.  Damned near impossible and stupid to boot.

How does one combat such stupidity?  Where do us “old people” go when faced with the potential amounts of inanity that is being produced by younger members of the community who are simply looking to make a name for themselves by denying the very basic fact that we… “old people”… are STILL going to be present in the GVC, no matter what they think, feel, or attempt to justify and that ONE DAY, they, too WILL BE AN “OLD PERSON”?

So… You think you can continue a community WITHOUT the root of it?  You’re either sorely moronic or haven’t followed a single ounce of history in your life… Cut the root away… EVERYTHING dies…

American Vampires – Another Rant

statue-of-liberty
This essay also appears in Vampires in Their Own Words.

Why do vampires in this country insist on forming “courts,” “covens,” and “houses” that take on the trappings of feudalism? If we were European, Asian, or Indian it might make more sense. Those countries have long histories of caste-based societies, complete with all of the problems associated with them.

But we’re Americans. Our nation was founded on the principle that all are equal in the eyes of our Creator and should be acknowledged as such by those around us. We waged a revolution to establish this philosophy as a fact and emerged victorious. Over the centuries, we have fought other battles, both military and civil, to expand the reaches of democracy so that all humans everywhere might enjoy the rights and responsibilities of this way of life. In some areas we have made tremendous strides. In others, the battle continues but we persevere, confident that our cause is just and that we will prevail.

Yet, in clubs and on the Internet, we revert to the very societal structure from which our countrymen struggled to free us. Is it a need for a sense of community? I don’t think so. There are plenty of people, vampire and non-vampire alike, who do not feel the need to be addressed as Elder or Lord or Mistress. There are egalitarian organizations everywhere that welcome all without the need to elevate an elite cadre over the masses. Surely those who seek a sense of belonging can have their needs met by one or more of these groups.

Why do we persist in subjecting ourselves to an artificial hierarchy? Why do we continually adopt false titles that have no basis in merit and serve no purpose except to offer a flimsy excuse for the bearer to put on airs and degrade others? Oh, I’ve heard all the standard lines about honoring those who serve our community and offering titles as a sign of respect.

Those excuses are simply not good enough. I know plenty of people who have worked long and hard over the years to better the community. They hold no titles and do not care for any. So recognizing achievement cannot be the underlying purpose of adopting a title. Are the titles hereditary? Of course not, because we abolished such counterfeit structures when we declared our independence. So, why do we do it?

Is it so that we can feel powerful? We have long felt ourselves to be outcasts, have felt the need to hide our true selves from the eyes of the world – is this irrational drive to adopt an even more discriminatory order a product of our need to feel special? Why do we need to justify our collective existence by establishing a system of recognition that oppresses others as we have felt ourselves to be oppressed? Where is our pride? How does subjugating each other equate to unity? How can bigotry and snobbery ever generate harmony among us?

How many times have we heard the call to “unite the vampire nation” under this council or that order? How many of those groups have fallen by the wayside or degenerated into harmful cults? If it is unity we seek, how can we ever achieve it by allowing our peers to subjugate and tyrannize us while we prattle on about how our so-called leaders bring honor to us by upholding the “old ways”? Honor is not a prize to be won or a gift to be given. It is something we know to be true about ourselves. No one can bestow it where it does not already exist and only we can take it from ourselves. There is no honor in assuming the façade of an outdated power structure. To say otherwise is to belittle and demean the warriors who have fought and bled and died to give us the freedom to choose for ourselves who is worthy of our respect and admiration. It is those brave soldiers who are truly noble. It is those who cherish their liberty, bought with the coin of sweat, blood, and tears, and use it to lift up all whom they meet who are the most honorable among us. Those who give selflessly and ask for nothing…it is they who display integrity.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

No pretentious title will ever hold the significance, contain the splendor, or bear the majesty of the philosophy that gave rise to those words. None ever could.

Ramblings on recent things

You aren’t leading by trying to make a donor sex cult. You aren’t leading by trying to make a private police force. You aren’t leading by trying the “agree with me or I block you” mentality. You aren’t leading if you do not care about using your ex donors image to promote yourself. You aren’t leading if you do not care how what you put out is viewed or how it will affect the community.

Most of these people lately are not leading. They are self serving and ignorant at best. Here to bleed the community of money, and manipulate at worst. What ever happened to lengthy ideas and proposals that were well thought out before even being thought of being put into action?

The quality is totally lacking these days.

What is amusing is there actually is groups and organizations for all the things these folks claim. They just do not like not being able to be incharge. Or are simply so ignorant they do not know.

Sadly this leads to others becoming ignorant of things that already exist. Sure now and then an idea or group or something may come along that does not exist and creates something to feel that void and need. But it is rare and far and few in between.

The Elders Are Not Tutorial NPCs

NoSchool

A newbie walks into a vampire group. If you think that sounds like the setup for a bad joke, you’re not wrong. Settle in, kiddies, because it’s time for some real talk.

It happens every few months and it’s almost always the same theme, with little variation. A newcomer to the vampire subculture prances into a group, throws some “look at me, I’m shiny and new and I have shiny new ideas” glitter around, and then can’t figure out why no one is rushing to welcome them with open arms. Because, gosh darn it, they have Thinky Thoughts™ they want to share. They want to know ALL THE THINGS and they want it now.

To the newbie’s deep chagrin, no one cares about their Thinky Thoughts™. Everyone’s busy having a discussion or a debate. Or bickering, let’s keep it real. There’s no ticker tape parade, no red carpet rolling out, no pats on the back and no one gushing over how interesting the newbie is and isn’t it wonderful we have a new Kindred in our midst, bang the gong and go tell it on the mountain. So the newbie huffs away, disgruntled at being greeted by a chorus of crickets.

Or, worse, the newbie trots out one of their shiny, new ideas only to be told “been there, done that, rocked the t-shirt, now sit down, junior, the adults are talking; listen and learn” by people who have been engaged in the vampire subculture longer than the newbie has been toilet trained. Wait, what? But this idea is special, by Vlad. How dare anyone fail to recognize its merit? What do you mean it’s been done before? The outrage! Before you know it, the poor newbie vampire, who is now far less sparkly than when they arrived and sporting a bruised ego, has stormed off to write a pouty, whinging screed about the horrible abuse they received at the hands of the elders. Those big, mean meanie-heads.

There’s a lot of baggage to unpack in this scenario. First, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and provide some context. Patience, grasshopper.

Vampires In The Information Age

More than twenty years ago, I had my first experiences with what would come to be known as the Vampire Community. The most memorable was with a tall, gangling girl who lived down the hall from the apartment I shared with my then-boyfriend. We stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, drinking too much coffee, talking, debating and making prank calls to each other’s answering machines. She collected cheesy Halloween decorations and empty Count Chocula boxes. She adored all things vampire. She also liked drinking blood. That tall, gangling girl became known within the vampire subculture as Sanguinarius. She built a website. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

Those late night discussions transitioned from our living rooms to IRC and AOL chat rooms, Usenet groups, and dozens of email lists. Although we shared similar experiences, my own path was less straightforward than Sangi’s. For her, it was all about the blood. For me, it was more complicated than that. There were others, too – Sphynxcat, Vyrdolak, Michelle Belanger, Lono, Mistress Mikyla, Akasha, Mairi, Lady CG, and even more who lost interest, got busy with life, or drifted away. Our debates sometimes became heated arguments, but the experience was valuable.

Two decades is a fairly significant stretch of time by any reckoning. By internet standards, it’s a lifetime. In the modern vampire subculture, it’s ancient. Those of us who were active participants in the discussions that took place in those chats and mailing lists were instrumental in shaping the vampire community as it is today.

Back in the 1990s, information was sparse and scattered across the internet. It was difficult to find and separating the wheat from the chaff required considerable effort. We had to figure things out for ourselves through trial and error. A lot of it.

By comparison, newcomers today are practically handed information on a silver platter. Google exists. Facebook acts as a centralized point of contact, fairly bursting at the seams with discussion groups dedicated to the vampire subculture. One of the oldest, largest and most active groups is Vampire Community News, founded by Merticus of the Atlanta Vampire Alliance (AVA). I don’t think it’s possible to spend more than two months in most of those groups, especially VCN, without hearing of Sanguinarius.org, the AVA or Voices of the Vampire Community (VVC).

There is a wealth, an absolute plethora, of educational information on Sanguinarius.org alone. Never mind what’s in the AVA’s educational archives, the VVC’s compilation of articles and their translations into multiple languages, Sphynxcat’s site, Michelle Belanger’s books, including the Vampires In Their Own Words anthology, which showcases essays from a wide range of vampire subculture members, and Joseph Laycock’s book Vampires Today: The Truth About Modern Vampirism. Finding quality information requires only as much effort as it takes to click some links and dedicate a couple of hours a week to reading articles.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an elder in possession of experience, knowledge, and a position of influence, must be in want of a newbie to mentor.

Actually, that’s false. But a fair number of newbies – and even a few veterans – seem to function under the assumption that this is the way things should be. Just…no. That’s not how this works.

Those of us who were active in the earliest days of the “online vampire community” and who are still active today have put in a lot of hours for a lot of years to establish ourselves as people who are accomplished, knowledgeable and capable of passing on the benefit of our experience. We built the websites, wrote the articles, held the meetups and established the Houses, Covens, and councils.

So it’s no surprise that newbies want to ask questions – a lot of questions. There’s nothing wrong with curiosity and enthusiasm. It’s great that newbies want to learn and participate. But when, where, how and to whom those questions are posed can be problematic.

Anyone who has spent any length of time in social justice activism circles, even on the margins, has undoubtedly heard the saying “it’s not my job to educate you.” The reasons for this are many, but they usually boil down to one or a combination of a few basic issues:

  1. The person being asked never offered to answer those questions;
  2. The person being asked doesn’t have the time or energy to provide answers;
  3. The person doing the asking hasn’t made any effort to educate themselves using the resources at their disposal;
  4. The person doing the asking has already demonstrated they are prejudiced, insulting or otherwise not genuinely open to receiving the information in the first place.

The same holds true for newbies in the vampire subculture. There are plenty of community veterans, often referred to as “elders,” who are willing to answer questions. There are always those who want to share their stories and explain things.

However, there’s a huge difference between sharing our experiences in an atmosphere of mutually beneficial discussion as we did “back in the day,” and having the responsibility for educating every looky-loo who comes along forced upon us. Especially when the same questions have been asked and answered dozens of times in the past. Chances are good there’s a FAQ for that.

“You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”¹

Curiosity and enthusiasm do not make you entitled to our time and energy. For some of us, the answers newbies ask for hold a deep personal significance. Sometimes, those answers can be difficult to explain, especially in a limited space like a Facebook comment thread. There’s no way to condense a response into an elevator pitch or an easily-digested soundbite. It’s more expedient to link to an article or a website that deals with the topic in greater detail. Yes, it’s more work to read and try to educate yourself. But that’s not the elders’ problem. Do your homework, there will be a test later.

We’ve also had to deal with people who pretended to have a genuine interest in learning and then used our answers to ridicule, belittle or threaten us. In fact, it happens so often, it’s become normalized for us to give side-eye and throw shade at anyone who comes sniffing around. We’ve learned the hard way not to waste our time on a relative stranger until you’ve proven yourself. Part of that is demonstrating you’ve made an effort to learn on your own. Bottom line: We have the right to choose when and how we use our voices. We also have the right to say no. If you come into a group assuming we want or demanding that we accept the role of educator, you’re gonna have a bad time.

I Am Jack’s Inflamed Sense Of Rejection

All too often, newbies jump into an intra-community discussion without knowing basic concepts that everyone else already knows and, therefore, don’t need to discuss for the eleventy billionth time. You wouldn’t expect a bunch of stock brokers to pause a discussion they’re having among themselves to explain what the stock market is to a layperson. So why do newbies insist that elders hold their hands and guide them through the vast amount of information they need to know before taking part in the conversation?

Newbies shouldn’t waltz into a group, insert themselves into a discussion and expect people to cater to them. That’s known as “derailing” – in other words, steering the conversation off course and centering it around the newcomer. It’s lazy, disrespectful and the sense of entitlement it projects is offensive, especially when we’ve already spent so much of our time creating and aggregating information. Seriously, if you expect the elders to explain things you can and should be learning on your own time, you’d better be willing to compensate us for our labor. Buy us a fucking fruit basket or something.

And this is how the scenario inevitably plays out:

In their willful ignorance, a newcomer will come up with an idea that has been tried before but failed because of lack of interest or overly-complicated logistics. Or one that the newbie would know can never work because of the fractious nature of the vampire subculture if they’d actually bothered to do even five minutes worth of research. Or, worst of all, the newbie proposes a thing that absolutely no one wants because every time someone brings up that tired, old idea it causes months of bickering and drama that no one wants to repeat yet again because things just settled down from the last time someone brought it up.

Then, when people rightly criticize their shortcomings, the newbie complains about the treatment they receive and whine that everyone is against them. They never stop to consider the possibility that they have only themselves to blame for the cold reception. It’s much easier to lay the fault on someone else’s doorstep than to do any self-examination.

Get The Fuck Off My Porch²

Newbies, here’s a tip:

Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Rein in that enthusiasm long enough to study the dozens of articles, essays, and books that have been written by and about the vampire subculture. If someone tells you to sit back quietly and observe for awhile, do that. It’s not that we can’t or won’t tell you what you want to know. Sometimes there’s no other way to get the answer; you have to witness it for yourself. This isn’t the Matrix and the elders can’t download all of our experience directly to your brain. The process is long and occasionally daunting. Embrace it.

If you want to make a tangible contribution to the community, you should research the projects that are already in place and then politely ask how you can contribute to them. I promise you’ll find people who will turn up their nose and poo-poo your offer. You will get your face bitten off, chewed up and spit out and have your ass handed to you more than once. Learn to tolerate the discomfort because it’s the only way you’re going to make it here.

“A guy who came to Fight Club for the first time, his ass was a wad of cookie dough. After a few weeks, he was carved out of wood.”³

If you manage to survive the snarknado, you’ll also find people who are friendly, helpful, and would love to debate ideas with you or have you get on board with their project. You don’t need to create something “new” when there’s already a perfectly good thing or five that could use another set of willing hands. While you’re at it, do some digging and figure out what concepts and projects have been considered and rejected and why. It’s a lot of work and not nearly as exciting as seeing your name at the top of the marquee, but you’ll experience much better results.

The elders are not tutorial NPCs who exist to teach newbies to navigate community interactions, help them with their level-up quests and provide them with all the magical things. The vampire subculture is not known for being an easy realm to inhabit. It never has been and never will be. There are no safe spaces and trigger warnings are in short supply. This is not Hello Kitty Island Adventure. There be dragons here.

Welcome to Bite Club.

 

¹ ² ³ Fincher, D., Milchan, A., Uhls, J., Linson, A., Chaffin, C., Bell, R. G., Pitt, B., … Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc.,. (2002). Fight club. Beverly Hills, CA: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Disclaimer: No One Cares About Your Feels

wahmbulance

This blog makes liberal use of swear words, sarcasm and hyperbole to illustrate points about the vampire subculture, aka the Greater Vampire Community. While these points will not apply to all individuals, the majority of the intended audience will have witnessed or experienced them at least once. The essays on this blog will not necessarily be comfortable to read. Some conversations are not meant to be comfortable. If you experience discomfort, dear reader, sit with that for a few minutes, think about why it might be the case and consider changing your attitudes or behavior.