Warning signs and ‘Red Flags’

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Img source: www.firefightsystems.com

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Let me ask you a question, have any of you ever received an email from someone like Mr. Yummi Sumbamunny (name changed blah blah blah) President of the First National Federated Bank of The Republic of Godswannadonna who tells you that in order to claim a $100,000 inheritance you need to send the bank processing fees of $150.00 and your bank account number? I have.

Would you do what Mr. Sumbamunny asked?

What if you received a message from someone you had never met who asked you to fly to another part of the country so that you could join them in eternal life and be one of the strongest, sexiest and most powerful creatures ever to walk this planet, to become a true vampire, would you drop everything and do it?

Warning signs, those little points that tickle in the back of the common sense part of our brains, that; hopefully, set off flashing lights and sirens that prevent you from getting ripped off… or worse. I recall coming into the online vampire sub-culture around thirteen years, or so, ago and immersing in a world of dark promises and delectable diversions… I also remember reading horror stories about those incautious enough, or naïve enough, to believe.
There are a number of good resources around the internet on safety of the individual and it is a very good idea to read them, it is also a VERY good idea to keep the word in the here-and-now, to keep it current and visible. I think back and I think of the fact that kids who were three, four and five when I arrived are now the “newcomers” to our sub-culture and as newly arrived, quite possibly newly awakened, members the… ummm “older” of us, I would argue, have a responsibility to keep the subject of personal safety in the forefront.

Image source: theinvisibledragon.com

Image source: theinvisibledragon.com

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The modern living vampire sub-culture, just like any other portion of the population of mankind, has its share of dangerous, volatile, subversive, predatory people that practice all the worst things you may already have heard of, and sometimes they can even go further. No more, no less, one would suppose, than any other human being except for the fact that their “desires” may be a little more morbid, or grisly, than the usual run-of-the-mill predator.

Image source: www.technolosky.com

Image source: www.technolosky.com

It was this, amongst other things, that led to a small group discussion recently in which the subject of “Warning Signs” was the focus, warning signs that perhaps the person on the other side of the monitor may not be quite what he or she seems, and may be a little more than anxious to convince you of something.

My companions in the discussion were Lady Marmoon Bey, Lady Raven Rose, Lady CG, Derek Lestat and Sabastian DeCavalier; each of whom have been kind enough to give me permission to present their comments here.

February 2, 2015 Discussion Point:

Tim: Good afternoon dear members, friends and colleagues.
Following on from that little “issue” we had to deal with a couple of days ago I wanted to explore, with you, the questions that such a performance raises.
Many of our members have been in the VC/OVC over a decade, a number have been involved for more than twenty years, primarily offline. Arguably the ‘Modern Living Vampire Sub-Culture’ began in 1966 with the opening of the Order of Maidenfear and then came to the online arena in the spring (Northern hemisphere) of 1997 when the first webpage of Sanguinarius.org appeared.
A point to note here; we are and have been around a fair time but what about the people arriving here for the first time who were just four, five and six when we came into this maelstrom?
Over all of this combined time we have had to deal, on and off, with all sorts of odd things in trying to be, live and develop as Modern Living Vampires. One of the things that we seem to constantly have to bear up against are the fantastic claims made by some as to their “age”, “lineage”, “true nature” etc.

We have the most excellent resource The Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Framework that can provide us with a scale by which to measure strange experience or interpret strange information but what do we do when it comes to individuals? What, from your own experiences, are the “Red Flags” that warn you about someone you’ve never met and barely communicated with much online?

Derek: My red flags….. hoo boy, there’s a topic…..

Tim: Good afternoon,
Let’s start with the most obvious shall we?
We know, for a fact, that modern human living vampires are physiologically human in structure. They have the same human skeleton, human internal organs and are not immune to human illnesses – if we were would I have a cold right now?

The list of the top five, verified, longest living people reads thus:
1. Jeanne Calment 21 February 1875 4 August 1997, 122 years, 164 days. France
2. Sarah Knauss 24 September 1880 30 December 1999, 119 years, 97 days. United States
3. Lucy Hannah 16 July 1875 21 March 1993, 117 years, 248 days. United States
4. Marie-Louise Meilleur 29 August 1880 16 April 1998, 117 years, 230 days. Canada
and 5. María Capovilla 14 September 1889 27 August 2006, 116 years, 347 days. Ecuador

Leandra Becerra Lumbreras is said to be 127 years old but her birth records were destroyed some forty years ago and her “unofficial records” are the result of a Mexican government inquiry in the state of Tamaulipas.
So, assuming that none of the people mentioned above is, or was, a real vampire in the traditional sense, we have the possibility that the oldest person alive is just over the one and one-quarter century mark. Strange then that we have people within our subculture claiming to be in excess of 180 years old, or even more. It’s easy enough to spin a tale with the massive resources available at our fingertips and, furthermore, if we ask proof the most often read reply is something along the lines of, “I don’t have to prove anything,” or “you prove I’m not.

Either way we reach an impasse. That would have to be the single most prominent red flag in my mind. There are, however, other more subtle indicators, no?

Derek: There are two types of “old” to consider here: one being natural human aging. I can attest to the deterioration of mind and body with increasing age (we just lost somebody at age 100 last month), as well as their interests being a sign of the times they lived in. The other kind is “immortality” in this context, where it’s presumed that the clock pauses ticking at a certain point for the body and mind, while the calendar marches on.
If someone is aged as the former, what interest or even inclination would they have towards a computer, much less joining an online community?
If it’s the latter, how do they go about retaining anonymity, especially in this age where everyone is accounted for? Without some form of birth records, how do they procure a driver’s license? Purchase a house? Car? Where does their income come from? Do we believe they took full predicting advantage of the relatively short window of opportunity at the dawn of the computer age to establish a cache of alternate identities? Do they do like in the first “Highlander” movie: ” die” every few decades and bequeath their possessions and holdings to another identity that they slip into?

Tim: Good evening,
Very good points my friend. The ability to remain “under the radar” in this day and age is, certainly in most western/westernised countries, exceedingly difficult a thing to achieve.

I appreciate your reference to the Hollywood “thematic”, it is, to my mind a red flag when a person uses a number of “movie” words to describe themselves. When terms from movies such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Underworld, Carpenter’s Vampires and so forth appear in communications it tends to indicate that the persona has been built from external references provided by outside influences. This, in itself does not lend itself to credibility.

Derek: Exactly. I don’t think that a REAL vampire, if such exists like that, would behave or sound very much like the literary or certainly the cinematic vampire archetype. IE, little to no clichés.

Tim: So, we have our top two Red Flags;
1) Claims of excessive physical age.
2) High level use of fictional terminology.

Let’s look at a more serious side of things and one that may directly impact the safety of an individual. Let’s consider falsehoods aimed at getting someone to go to a physical meeting, what steps MUST be taken with that?
Let’s consider mid-term “online” friendships being hurried into some sort of romantic/spiritual sphere?
Would they be considered as ‘Red Flags’?

Derek: A physical meeting? The first and most obvious ticks come to mind….
1) Make it a VERY public place. Plenty of people, employees, light, crowds, safe environment.
2) Do not go alone. Bring someone with you. Preferably someone who can handle any potential trouble, someone who’ll have your back if needed.
3) Be on your guard, alert, and aware at all times
4) It wouldn’t hurt to let someone else know where you’re going, when, when you expect to come back, etc. Keep your phone charged and with you.

Rushing an online relationship? Pushing it to the “romantic” relationship? That right there should be a red flag.
Natural things happen naturally: they take time to happen.
You don’t force a flower to bloom. You cannot force fruit to ripen. If something is meant to be, it will be, and in its own time.
Think of love like a fart, if you must: if you have to force it, it’s probably shit.

Marmoon: Ah very well said …. Let us not forget that any vampire worth his or her mettle will use any trick in the book to woo you into a false sense of comfort and perhaps caring. After all, are we not predators? Personal information such as home address should not be made available as well as where you work … Someone asking questions or prying into your personal space too hastily would also be a red flag. Watch body language and eyes and if they presume to need to depart because of the sunrise .. Well, another flag for your flag pole.

Tim: Another thing that comes to mind is “extravagant promises”. Of course we would see the old standards, “come and let me make you my bride blah blah blah” but also more subtle promises such as, “come to me and you’ll never have to worry about so-and-so again”, “come to me and together we will travel here, there and everywhere”, “come to me and I’ll make you a vampire/ make you rich/ make you the Lady of my house/’ make your dreams come true etc. etc. etc” – All designed to prey on the vulnerable who are in less than desirable situations in their own lives.

Lady CG: In your history you left out the IRC groups from the early 90s *laughs*
It’s a good point, Tim. Over the years I have seen Vampires use some pretty outrageous claims to get donors. Sadly I’ve also seen non vamps use the pretence of being Vampire to gain sexual favours. My personal favourite was “I feed from menstruating women because it’s the only way I CAN blood feed” While sexual feeding is a long revered practice in the community, I’ve seen it used for nefarious purposes for which there simply no real excuses.
Sorry I got behind on this conversation, it’s a good one but I’ve been working a LOT and finally got a few days off to respond. My apologies.

Sabastian: The aging factor I agree is red flag numero uno. However with the second mentioned earlier in this thread. The excessive use of Hollywood terminology, one of the things I started noticing in late 99 early 2000 was how easily Hollywood entered the lexicon of the community. Some examples were the use of words like mundanes in reference to those outside the community. I also would notice am increase off certain names around the same time as notable film releases. Am example of this would be the increase of those bursting upon the community with members such as Selene, Victor, Marcus etc… Corresponding with the release of the “Underworld ” movies. Now this in no way meant that any or all of these individuals went modern vamps. But it does show that it’s not a reliable assumption that terminology is a factor. Just my opinion though.

Raven: Unfortunately Tim I have met someone exactly like this and it turns out she ended up being nothing but a poser catfishing people online. I have been on the OVC for a long time and have learned to see those red flags you talk about pretty easily. It’s an important topic when it comes to meeting others online to keep one safe.

Tim: Thank you very much for your input…
No apologies necessary Lady CG, Sebastian and Lady Raven, many thanks. I think it is something that people often look at and so, “blah, blah, blah…rehash, rehash, rehash” but to me it’s like the “Stranger Danger” programs in schools… and, as I mentioned, the newcomers to the sub-culture were only four or five when I arrived in the online sub-culture.
Sabastian, I certainly take your point, let’s face it after the release of Pulp Fiction how many people were going about using variants of the whole “Ezekial 25:17” speech. As we know, from the very start of the “coming out”, if you like, of the sub-culture at the LBV events it has been written, about the Black Veil Publications, that there was no terminology available except for basic Renn Fair and White Wolf material and so that formed the first “lexicon” if you like.
Lady Raven, as I said, it’s easily as important as the “Stranger Danger” lessons in schools. As well as saying to kids, “never get into a car with a stranger” we could also say, “never go out to a place to meet someone who is going to turn you into a vampire.
Again, many thanks and looking forward to any further thoughts.

Lady CG: I’d like to add one last thing before we call this thread finished… For me the red flags for a non vamp pretending to be a Vamp tends to be what they do NOT experience or understand. I’ve spent years dealing with Vamplings and older Vampires of all kinds. They have a number of experiences in common, depending on the type of Vampire they are. My flags are when those common experiences are missing from a person’s repertoire. We don’t know what a Vampire IS, particularly, but we know what they are NOT, AND we know that there are particular experiences we have in common. Break it down to the lowest common denominator and you actually have a pretty good method of flagging the wannabes. *smiles*

Tim: Thank you dear lady,
lex parsimoniae (Occam’s Razor) I believe they call it, when you remove whatever can’t be proven whatever you have left, no matter how improbable, is most likely the truth… to paraphrase the maxim.

Lady CG: I’m a huge fan of Occam’s Razor, actually *smiles*


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Image source: www.flickriver.com

Within the discussion body, as you can see there are some very valid points and “warning signs” to look out for in the online sub-culture, that’s not to say that every newcomer should be afraid of the opportunities to connect with others who think, act and feel as they do. As Sabastian pointed out, terminology, or the over use of certain types of terminology, is not necessarily a “red flag” and I would agree, by and large. Taking ONE item and using it to condemn or fear something is not really the best choice either.

Rather, I would suggest, watch for a combination of items that all meld together to present a picture that unsettles you, in your gut. Trust your instincts and don’t let yourself be blinded by glib promises, romantic language and subtle offers of wondrous places to be, things to see and to do.

Your best defence is you, sharpen and strengthen that defence with the tools available online and trust yourself.

If you feel that someone is trying to take advantage of you in a manner that could put you in an unsafe position, please, talk to someone about it… that second opinion could, conceivably, save your life.

There are many resources available to you in the event that you become the object of some manner of “harassment” on the internet. In most jurisdictions it is illegal to harass someone on the internet, your local law enforcement may have resources available to you, don’t be afraid to ask.

There is an excellent reference piece on internet safety available at Sphynxcat VP’s Real Vampires Support Page under “CAUTIONS / FAKERIES / PERSONAL SAFETY / ETC.
Likewise, at Sanguinarius.org For Real Vampires entitled “Real Vampire Community Personal Safety & Privacy Awareness.

There are also a great range of resources available at the “Enough Is Enough – Internet Safety 101” page.

Use the tools that are available, familiarize yourself with the tricks and cons, the warning signs and ‘red flags’ and stay safe.

I would like to thank my guests at the discussion for their time and input and we hope this article may be of use to many readers.

Copyright 2015 RVL E-Zine, Lady Marmoon Bey, Lady Raven Rose, Lady CG, Derek Lestat and Sabastian DeCavalier

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