Recently I have been reflecting on more than a decade spent in and around the OVC, I have been reflecting on all I have read, all the discussions and debates I have been party to and everything I have read at a great number of resource sites and web-groups. I have been reflecting on the fact that over more than ten years I have seen good people and web-groups separate themselves from the wider OVC, isolate themselves, except for in the most superficial way, from the so-called “community”. I have been reflecting on the treatment meted out to individuals who dare to “cross swords” with those who fancy themselves to be the epitome of this OVC and I have been reflecting on what all of these observations mean in a social sense. Make no mistake, what follows forms the summary of my observations, my interpretations and my deductions based on real events ~ it is somewhat more than just an “opinion” it is, in essence, a sum of what I have seen, read and experienced.
In a recent “Chatting with Vampires” article one of our guests made the following observation;
“After much time and experience, I’ve come to believe that the “community” would do so much better as a union of individuals rather than breaking into groups that seem to self-destruct,” and went on to say, “ We are all of the same nation, whatever our tribes might be.”
I have been writing in support of community and good relations within; and between, groups in the OVC since around 2004. I have been writing to point out benefits and rewards from organising, cooperating and communicating since around 2004. I couldn’t bring myself to adopt the old saying, “community unity is a myth” as someone once wrote at a message board I frequented. Perhaps the truth is, a basic truth that I have been reluctant to accept, that the “community”, in the main, doesn’t give a hoot for cooperation, unity and organisation.
Mankind, very early on in history, recognised not only the need for defence and survival but also came to realise the value of peaceful cooperation. Tribes began to trade with each other, the tribes formed countries and eventually the countries came together to form “commonwealth” cooperatives, to form treaties and alliances and eventually we saw the advent of the United Nations. In short, mankind organised, cooperated and communicated for the greater good. On a global scale, somehow, mankind managed something that the OVC can’t manage to any real and useful degree.
It has now been suggested that of the ‘thousands’ of people who frequent the OVC only 20% are “real vampires” which, in one fell swoop, deletes 80% of those active in the online real vampire arena. Given this it is not unreasonable to suppose that there is no real reason for any sort of “group” except perhaps for the “tribe” who form the 20% ~ whomsoever they may be.
So, “community unity” becomes even more unattainable than it ever has been, that’s if it ever was.
Perhaps it is time that we stopped using the name “Online Vampire Community” and used, instead, something like “Online Vampires”, “Online Vampire Collection”, or even, “Online Vampire Crowd”. It is probably especially relevant since every time I have attempted to apply the word “community” to what we have it has been almost impossible. As I was told once, in no uncertain terms, “You can’t always use the literal meanings of words. Sometimes you have to go by what the popular meaning is understood to be.” The sum of knowledge of the human race is bound up in certain resources and one of these resources is a dictionary and a word, or words, have meanings; meanings that can’t simply be arbitrarily changed to suit situations. If we go on to insist that people should ‘understand’ that the words that are used in a bastardised, sub-cultural manner then all we are really doing is being bigoted elitists.
This, however, is not as simple as nomenclature; it is not as simple as who picks what definition applies to what situation and it’s not as simple as how many real-vampires there actually are, the fact that there is very little agreement in any quarter for ideas, ideals and positions that are individually or group held leads toward the inescapable conclusion that there never can be any useful or workable agreement between “groups”, “houses” or “covens” online. The most useful thing we could do, at this juncture, is stop thinking about the online scene as “community” as it is a misnomer and gives a false impression of what actually exists.
After more than a decade of reading, questioning, discussion, debate and reflection, I have been led toward the inevitable conclusion that online real vampires would be best served by being independent of any “group”, “house” or other entity. The most useful construct that could be employed would be the “single-hub” concept for communication between all who consider themselves “otherkin”. No differentiation anymore and no separate group entities except privately and within the “tribes” themselves.
One of the comments that is more commonly received than any other is that the OVC is “too political” but, if you think about it, that’s exactly what the OVC is ~ political.
Lets say we have House So-and-so, Order of the Immaculate Whatever, Real Thingummybob.com and they are all, ostensibly, groups for real vampires.
We may as well call them Party A, Party B, Party C, or ‘Democrats’, ‘Republicans’ and ‘Nationalists’, ‘Labor’, ‘Liberal’ and ‘Peoples Revolutionary Party’ – it really doesn’t matter. Each one gathers members, people who are sympathetic or devoted to that particular ‘party’ and their ‘policies’. Some of these groups form ‘coalitions’ and exchange information with members floating between them and as they gather more and more members they come to believe that they are a major voice in what’s going on.
Within this ‘party’ structure we might expect to encounter individuals, the owner or ‘leader’ of the party, the person who holds the whip hand and selects their ‘cabinet’ from those in the party who are particular ‘friends’ or supporters of theirs. The ‘leader’ tells the ‘cabinet’ what to do, the ‘cabinet’ tells the ‘party members’ what to do and thus the ‘leader’ comes to regard themselves as the head of something important.
This situation might work very well in real life when it comes time for an election but in the OVC there are no elections, there are usually, and quite simply a group of ‘party leaders’ who band together and attempt to dictate or drive current events, sympathies or support their way… to create for themselves the illusion of being an important ‘political coalition’ in the OVC landscape.
So, it can easily be seen that, in all its rough-house glory, the OVC is as political as a Presidential or General Election.
What does that mean for the ‘rank and file’ OVC member? Well, you have to be “in” with a person’s ‘party’ to be considered as being important. You need to build yourself up to become a ‘cabinet member’ in one of these pseudo-political entities in order to have any real voice or you need to have an independent outlet that will give equal time and space to your words as they would to any other person. This, in itself, makes the prospect of a “hub” attractive, a hub where there is no “leader”, where there are simply “mediators”, “mentors” or “facilitators”. The only problem with that scenario would be finding the necessarily neutral people that would be needed to fill such roles. Again we would almost certainly be faced with a nomination/election issue to appoint the facilitators and, hence, we return to the “pseudo-political”. Either way you approach it politics is part of the guts of the OVC, make no mistake.
The simplest solution ~ every single OVC member becomes a solitary online individual entity and together “a union of individuals” as our guest commentator put it. It’s no secret that the message board based concept of the OVC has been in decline for sometime, a change to social media has pretty much put paid to the majority of message boards. We, that is RVN, have featured several new message board style groups that have come into being showing that not everyone is infatuated with the social media experience, however, the social media platform seems to be the ideal platform for this “union of individuals” and it has distinct advantages over the message board system. One of the biggest advantages is that you don’t have to read what other people have to say if you don’t wish. Another advantage is that you can avoid, or block out, people you don’t like and only converse with those you do.
Another upside to being an “independent” on a social media platform is that you can divorce yourself completely from “board owners” who are attempting to enhance their own image and importance by using you as a pawn in their games, albeit not directly or individually.
The political overtones and machinations of individuals and certain coalitions should be treated as a matter of priority consideration and each person should make their decision whether they want to lead, follow or get the heck out of the way.
An immediate benefit that can be derived from a social media focus is that the online vampires can begin to isolate and separate out the people who bring the online and real vampire way into disrepute by their behaviour and their constant negative influence by simply not acknowledging them as friends and thus giving them no opportunity to spread their negativity.
Incidences of cyber-bullying, harassment, hate-speech and other derogatory activities can be singled out and eliminated easily because each person is in control of what they receive and what they don’t.
Each person can be in control of their own interactions, their own path, their own agenda and, hopefully, their own behaviour.
Do I think it is time to change the call for “community unity” to, “Separatists rule!”? YES. Do I believe that the OVC is a dinosaur that is past its time? YES. Do I believe that every single individual who identifies as a real modern vampire is important and deserves voice as an individual? YES. Do I believe that there is, in anything except name, an OVC ~ NO.
So why don’t we quit fooling ourselves and call “THE duck” exactly what it is, A DUCK.
Copyright TB & RVN 2012 (except where noted.)
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