When press on vampire fangs—the kind that fit right over real teeth—are prominently featured and easier to procure than condoms, aspirin, or feminine hygiene goodies in my local drugstore, I begin to suspect something is going seriously awry. 

 

During past Halloween seasons, I’ve been able to take refuge in the relative sanity of what’s prosaically called the real vampire community.  This year there’s little comfort to be found among the hundreds and thousands of individuals who, for whatever reason suits them, identify as real vampires.  I’ve been an observer and a social commentator in the community long enough to know it’s going through a paradigm shift.  The change is not for the better. 

 

Earlier this year I was contacted by a research assistant at a regional television station.  He was an eager individual seeking to learn the truth about real vampires.  This is nothing new for me.  I get queries from the media daily, probably because I make a great effort to explain the real vampire in terms anyone can understand.  Naturally I agreed to help.

 

But the researcher didn’t want the kind of help I would provide—information, explanations, and resources.  He wanted an invitation to some closed ceremony and celebration so as to capture the licentious and surely bestial behavior of real vampires.  You know, the tabloid bum rap kind of stuff.

 

I get it.  What can anyone calling herself a real vampire expect from the outside world?  This kind of conflict I’ve learned to handle.  It’s the bogus behavior I’ve been witnessing within the community that’s worse—and more destructive—than a hundred salacious stories about “real vampires.”  Welcome to my world.

 

Money appears to be the common denominator among vampire projects.  I’m particularly irritated with the folks behind online endeavors who never bothered to think ahead and do a little budgeting.  The lack of financial acumen doesn’t bother me so much as the sudden barrage of requests for donations to pay off debts.  I have some experience here.  A few months ago in a group chat, I proposed a number of ways one of these endeavors could raise a little capital through honest means and without resorting to some kind of metaphysical pledge drive.  My ideas were shot down.  Why was it necessary to raise money?  How much were operating costs, anyway?  Today these same people and many others are asking for donations.  My point is that in many cases the money problem could have been avoided, and to ask users and visitors to make up for the lack of foresight is unethical.

 

I’m also looking at extreme fragmentation in the community, something I’d be willing to call chaos.  Suddenly a thousand different vampire “houses” are setting up shop online, each seeking members to cleave to a unique set of ideas and behaviors (except it all comes from a handful of sources in the first place).  What is a show of diversity comes across to the community newbie as a confusing swamp.  Throw in those groups that are technically cults (check for a definition of cult) and are perfectly willing to prey on the inexperienced.  It’s a dangerous wilderness.

 

Okay, so we have the money grubbers and the cults of personality.  What else is infecting the vampire community these days?  Meet the writer’s worst enemy, the plagiarist.  Some individuals are so determined to lead their own vampire groups that they’ll copy from online sources without consent and fashion all of their creative theft into handbook form.  Then they slap their own name on the work as the founder of their path and try selling this amalgamation of other people’s ideas.  Aside from the obvious matter of theft, this kind of ego-driven publishing undermines the credibility of other works that are the original ideas of the author.

 

What do I hope to accomplish with this rant?  I would like to show the online world as a whole that the vampire community is so real that it has real problems and real divisiveness like any other community.  Like the vampire of legend, there are real vampires perfectly willing to prey on the unsuspecting in a number of ways. 

 

It all just bites.