Being a so-called “alternative community”, our eyes are opened to a strange world where the average person’s idea of what is “only make-believe” is our reality. However in our acceptance of what we are, and those who share the community with us, have we become gullible and even afraid to question people about their claims?
Lately, in my trawls through online forums and blogs concerning the Vampyre community, I am well and truly astonished at some of the topics that are posted for discussion, and even more surprised that most folk seem to take it in their stride without question.
At what point did people stop thinking logically and start embracing ideals that, quite frankly, only have their place in fiction?
For a community that is supposedly so against society associating them with the creatures that have developed in the imaginative world of fiction, I find that so many of these same people living out what I call “The Lestat Delusion”. This is where self-proclaimed Vampyres will lead one into thinking that they are more than human and will repeatedly play the card that will reflect the Vampyre-life to be riddled with romanticized ideas about how we are the self-controlled predators governed by an all-consuming need to feed, that we perhaps are a danger to those around us and that some of us have even developed special abilities.
It is these sort of claims that taint the reality of true vampyrism and attracts the wrong sort of people to the community – people, who perhaps feel they have something missing in their lives, or have never felt they “belong” – and see the world of vampyrism as an escape or solution to that – believing, perhaps that being apart of it will make them “special “or else “better” than the average person. Let me just burst that bubble right there and tell you that this preternatural fantasy is just that – a fantasy.
Considering this, I find myself wondering why are these topics so high on the list of discursive subjects on the forums? Now I know that even in the South African Vampyre community, our online chatting is often jokingly littered with references to the fictional vampire – but the sad reality is that some people get caught up in this banter and it has the tendency to become the status quo of our interactions, rather than discussing more important, and informative topics. The danger of this is that the lines between reality and fantasy become blurred, and this is where “The Lestat Delusion” cunningly crawls in – and over time, certain fantasies become accepted as possible and then the next thing you know, everyone is claiming to possess them, and anyone who still has their feet firmly rooted in the reality of vampyrism is dismissed as “not a real Vampyre”.
So again I ask: why have we fallen into this illogical rut, and I believe the reason lies in the lack of any universal, fundamental ideas in the Vampyre community. There are numerous groups within the broader community, all with various beliefs – and all preaching their own “truths” which are either based on that of another group – or else go hand-in-hand with another particular outside religion or belief system. This results in a community that is confused as to what is real, and individuals who are afraid to question others in fear that, firstly, it may shake the foundations of what they feel is real, and secondly, may put them in the spotlight for questioning if someone who believes something different disagrees with them and threatens that person’s legitimacy. If this is the case, then what we have is a community of people not entirely confident in themselves, to a point where they can no longer look to themselves and know the real truth through the experiences of their being – a condition which I attribute to the the lack of influence in the Vampyre community that promotes the growth of an individual’s self, instead of growth of the community as a whole.
Now don’t get me wrong – the growth of the community is vitally important – but there has to be a balance. If we run the risk of getting way ahead of ourselves, then we may suffer the loss of our integrity of what we really are, which in turn may leave some members questioning the point of the community itself. Perhaps it is also worth questioning if we are also becoming pretentious in the development of certain aspects of the community, incorporating structures which perhaps are not necessary and only open doors to the idea that we are not human, or more-than-human and that apparently we are not capable of relying on common human decency in how we should act. I do not wish to pin-point these things specifically, as there are people who have put a lot of time and effort into developing them and they do feel that they serve their purpose, so I shall leave that up to the thoughts of the reader to consider.
Then of course there is the subject of our campaign to be accepted by greater society. Now this is all very well – but more often than not, the ways members go about trying to gain this acceptance can be damaging to the campaign itself. We are all aware (I hope) that society views us as something that does not exist in the so called “real world” and that anyone claiming to be a Vampyre is either trying to be part of some pop-cultural trend which is the result of the influence of television, movies and books – or else they believe us to be mentally unstable individuals who have lost touch with reality. Considering the behavior of some who claim to be self-identified Vampyres, how can we blame them?
We can try to reason with these individuals, offer logical explanations and through more open-minded publications possibly try changing peoples’ perspectives little by little – but lately I have seen a number of rather disastrous attempts at trying to achieve this, where Vampyres have responded to articles simply because some unsuspecting person criticizing the fictional stereotype had the “audacity” to not even consider that Vampyres might be real. To react so strongly to such articles is only going to result in a mockery of all that is Vampyre – and there is no growth for the community in that – in fact it only leads to us moving backwards in the quest for acceptance. You cannot force someone who does not believe in something, to believe – and at times, Vampyres should bite their tongues and know when is the right time to speak up and when it is wise to remain silent.
I was reading a blog article the other day, which was a response to an article someone else wrote about – wait for it – how the death of a teenage boy who was bitten by a vampire bat and contracted rabies would mar the reputation of the Vampyre community. Now perhaps this person had not fed in some time and was not thinking straight, but I can assure you that no sane person was blaming the Vampyre community for this tragedy.
It is a problem for the community when Vampyres write apparently just for the sake of writing – and write articles which damage the credibility of the community. I get it – sometimes things happen, and we feel compelled to write something about it – but does this mean we should look for persecution in every event that involves the “v-word” or else thumb-suck for a story? Issues like these have no point and serve no purpose. They only distract us from more important issues, and frequently tend to result in Vampyres being in conflict with each other over a non-issue.
I suppose what I am trying to say is, that we are still human – albeit with slightly different needs and experiences – and although we may flock together and feel the need to be accepted, and struggle to understand why the rest of humanity struggles to understand and accept us – we, as individuals need to find our own truths. You do not need to look to others as a guide to knowing who you are. You do not need to define yourself by the ways that are dictated by the Vampyre community. You may actually question the community around you – for your own peace of mind, if nothing else. And once we grow as individuals, then truly the community itself will grow with us.