There are an increasing number of questions being asked about why the OVC is the way it is, why it can’t, or hasn’t changed for the better, or worse, in years. Old arguments rear their heads anew every so often and the same discussions reappear from time to time. In a number of places the treatment of individuals can often reach appallingly low levels simply because they wish to make their opinions known.
It can be clearly seen, every day. The issues that affect the OVC seem to be unlimited and insurmountable but are they? A new survey has recently been established aimed at gathering information on how the members of the OVC view the community at this time, added to this the recent establishment of the House Rakoczy project Vampyres for Freedom of Expression to give OVC members a chance to share their philosophies without running the risk of suffering a backlash of harassment and vitriol.
Recently, up until May 31st, there was an important and timely survey conducted into perceptions and opinions about the community, the results of which promise to be very interesting when they are released. Real Vampire News were pleased to support this important initiative as we will support any positive initiative to better the community for its members.
In this two part presentation we have sought out the opinions of a range of community members with different lengths of tenure in the VC/OVC so we can get a picture of the overall observations and comments across a range of experiences. We are joined today by our guests, and colleagues, to discuss ways that might be employed to rationalise and improve things somewhat.
RVN is pleased to be able to welcome Dolphinmoon, Riley and Silver Black.
RVN: Good evening and welcome to Real Vampire News
R: It’s a pleasure to do this interview and meet you all!
SB: Hello, and thank you for having me.
RVN: To begin, would you tell us a little about yourself, how long you have been active in the VC/OVC and a bit about what have you been up to since you arrived?
R: My name is Riley and I’m a latent vampire. I’m about to be 19 years old. I’ve been active in the OVC for three years now. Haven’t been active within the VC, as of yet but I plan to change that in the years to come.
SB: The most active I’ve been in the OVC is through GetFanged which opened last year, and our Facebook Group Vampires/Vampyres. Both were created in the hope of bringing vampyres together and stimulating constructive discussion.
DM: I have been part of the OVC for about 4 or 5 years now. I am still learning and happy to research. My ‘outside life’ keeps me busy.
RVN: In your time in the OVC what is/are the most positive thing/s you have encountered?
DM: I have always been welcome and other than a few trolls, the folks of the OVC have been very helpful and mostly kind and most have been very respectful.
SB: Right now there are a number of people within the community trying very hard to correct common misconceptions about vampyres by getting out there and doing something about it. Whether it’s feeding the homeless and raising monies for charity, or opening a blog dedicated to highlighting the positives, there seems to be a concerted effort going on right now to show the mainstream public a different side of vampirism. The scholarly articles that have been coming out lately from established researchers like Joseph Layock and Dr. DJ Williams have been encouraging too. Also the show “Vampires” and its down to earth portrayal of vampirism in New Orleans.
R: The diverse variety of people that are supportive and helpful.
RVN: and what would be the most negative?
R: How rude some people can be.
DM: Really some of the arguments have been very petty, mostly revolving around what is real and what is not real or rather what is perceived at such.
SB: I think anytime all of those great efforts are overshadowed by crimes, unnecessary drama, and bickering within the OVC itself. It works against what so many are trying to do. Unfortunately that’s where the media focuses its attention most of the time, on the negative “vampire killer” stories, even when most of them don’t have anything to do with real vampirism.
I’m always encouraged by those who meet those misperceptions head on – by doing something great and getting in the news that way, like Patrick Rodgers did on CNN.
RVN: What, do you believe, would be the ultimate best structure for the OVC?(e.g. Individual Houses at a “United Nations” style council, Individuals in a cooperative arena, separate “political” party style arrangement etc.)
DM: This is a difficult question for me to answer because I feel that I am too new to the community to really see the impact and really know nothing of the separate groups (houses, covens, etc.)
R: It should be individual houses with a UN style. Its difficult to decide but if we have it organized by Hemispheres (North, East, South and West) I think it’d be fine but isn’t as structured as it could or should be. It’s up to be discussed.
SB: At this point in time, I’m not sure there is an overall political system that would work. The subculture seems extremely divided and even confused right now and building any further on a weak foundation I have to think might cause those structures to collapse. I would advocate strengthening the basic understanding within the OVC first – find common threads and definitions – and use those to strengthen existing groups – before attempting to bring them all together under one set of guidelines.
RVN: Do you believe a general set of “guidelines” could be achieved by having as many houses/ groups/ covens etc. sign to accept the guidelines?
SB: It would be difficult to execute, in my opinion. How would you get every vampyre and house out there to agree? Who would enforce the rules? How do you even find them? The groups are so different.
DM: I do think this is possible, if everyone could agree on said “guidelines”. Sadly from what I have seen (and I try to stay out of the arguing as much as possible because I am so new) because each groups has a different set of beliefs this may not be possible.
R: Yes, but every house/group/coven shouldn’t have to sign. It should be their own choice if they want to or not. Since we all know the rules and some groups have their own set of guidelines. I believe that security is an issue within groups. There should be guidelines (not many). A few that make our groups safe from outsiders and that we should ID people before a meeting a gathering.
RVN: What would be the best basis for this set of “guidelines”?
DM: Mutual agreement and respect? LOL
R: I believe that security is an issue within groups. There should be guidelines (not many). A few that make our groups safe from outsiders and that we should ID people before a meeting a gathering.
SB: A focus group would be a good start. Respected members of the communities coming together as representatives to create guidelines that represented everyone, which might be difficult. When similar ideas have been proposed in the past, it was controversial. A portion of the OVC didn’t want to be involved in any type of policing.
RVN: How do you think “leaders” of the community should be identified and elevated to the rank of leader in the eyes of the majority of the community?
SB: By segregating the groups by type and experience, at least until a clearer definition of each type can emerge, and THEN electing a leader. I’ve heard a lot of calls that groups need to start ‘cleaning house’. That individuals who define their vampirism religiously or spiritually aren’t really benefiting by being in the same community as sanguinarians or psis who have documented physical deficiencies and define their vampirism that way. When this happens, debates deteriorate into clashing opinions on the fundamental definition of vampyre. From what I’ve seen, I tend to agree with that. At the very least, an elevated leader of a community should personify the common ideas, goals, and needs of his/her own community.
R: Leaders of the community should have certain symbols/ abbreviations before their name. Other people won’t know what it means but we as a community would know. It should be based on age. For example, if you’ve been active within the community (OVC/VC) for some years now then that should give you a higher rank than others.
DM: Perhaps by vote? Obviously knowledge is a must.
RVN: What would be the best method of resolving major disputes within the community?
DM: Perhaps some sort of mediation where a neutral party over sees.
SB: I think that for the most part the individuals involved are all adults who should be capable of resolving the smaller differences on their own. They should be able to agree to disagree and recognize that smaller disagreements are sometimes best left alone, or taken somewhere private so not to corrupt the entire group with unnecessary and irrelevant drama. But if it’s something that can’t be resolved privately and spills out into the community, leaders should be prepared to enforce their personal community rules and guidelines. Right now, there is a gigantic push for more enforcement and less enabling when it comes to bullying and bigotry. Stopping that kind of abuse when it happens definitively and immediately sends a message to the rest of the group that it won’t be tolerated.
In my opinion major violations like breaking the law should be taken care of by the legal authorities, and left out of online affairs, whenever possible.
R: I believe that we need to come to sense of conclusion. Many people within the OVC/VC believe many different things. We need to get a grip on everything and somehow, someway sum it all up. How are we supposed to come out and claim ourselves as vampires if we can finally come together as whole and decide what a vampire IS and what a vampire ISN’T.
RVN: Do you believe that a system of “censure by vote” would work against OVC members that step “over the line” as determined by the “guidelines” if they were in place?
SB: Not really. We’re talking for the most part about an online, virtual, community. Other than removing members from individual groups, there isn’t much leeway to enforce any type of overall OVC expulsion. There’s nothing stopping the offending member from going to another website, or attempting to subvert his banishment with another profile and IP address. It’s all OVC, technically. How do you realistically remove someone from the OVC, without having the power to remove them from the internet? You can’t.
R: I think a vampire Census should take place. A general Census of what we believe is moral and true. If someone committed an immoral act upon the community,depending on what it is they they done should be based on a census of a vote. If they did it knowingly, then yes their should be repercussions for their actions. If its something less severe then why bother? Safety and privacy, are the two utmost factors within the community.
RVN: What do you, personally, think of the current “state” of the OVC?
R: The diversity of opinions and facts. I like it the people within it are kind. Things could improve just a bit but overall the OVC is great. As I’ve said before, organization would be ideal and essential for a better outlook for the online vampire community.
SB: I think that there is a lot of work to be done but that strides are being made everyday to make it a more constructive/less hostile place.
DM: Hmm, as I said I have tried to stay out of the arguing though I feel there is much to be learned by viewing others opinions. I really have nothing tocompare the “current state” too.
RVN: What, in your opinion, needs to undergo major change in order to improve the OVC?
DM: Respect for all
R: The OVC/VC is great, it’s just needs to change a bit, I believe. There’s so much information out there that we tend to question the beliefs of others. If we had just one main site with several mods/admin working the site, that would make it a bit easier. All of the information is helpful but we need to come together as a whole. From site to site trying to find people (locally) is a hassle. It would also help those in need of a donor, meetings/ gatherings, etc. Once we get the OVC in order the VC will follow right along with it.
SB: I don’t think it can be confined to any singular place or thing. But I think that every group within the greater community would benefit by making sure their communities have definitive guidelines and ensuring that members meet them. It’s difficult, for any leader, to turn away aspiring members. But if the OVC is to become a more constructive place and actually succeed in what I believe it sets out to do (educating and assisting and providing a safe haven for vampyres) it can’t be “anything goes”. It does no one any favors when members are perpetually fighting over even the most basic definitions.
RVN: What “changes” can the individual make to assist this process?
R: To work together as a unit and make these changes happen. It’s hard if one person wants it and not everyone else does. It’d be more organized. Working together is the main key.
DM: Open their minds a bit and rather than lash out try to have intelligent conversations.
SB: Most of the criticism/responsibility usually falls on the leaders, so that’s a great question. Individuals can assist by ensuring that they belong in the group they’re currently in, and if they find themselves in the wrong one, being able to admit to it and move on to a branch that is a better fit for them. Leaders can help with this by being vigilant about who they admit and by asking the right questions and clearly defining what the group is about and who it applies to. Other than that, members can exercise common sense, and respect fellow members, and their right to disagree.
RVN: What stands in the way of positive changes, in your opinion?
SB: The culture of the internet. It’s become a hostile place where it’s not only acceptable but common to bully and insult. Individuals would benefit by sitting back and asking themselves before they post “Is this something I would say to x if x was sitting right next to me?” and “Is what I’m about to write going to further this discussion or end it?”
DM: Mostly the individual’s themselves.
R: We’re all so singled out and don’t do much as a whole community should.
RVN: What, in your opinion are the TWO biggest problems the on-line vampire community faces today?
R: People asking to be changed/turned and how rude some vampires can be.
SB: It’s very chaotic. A lot of communities are a mishmash of individuals with opposing and loose definitions of vampirism, which often leads to emotionally-reactive arguments that are circular with no real resolution, which makes people angry, frustrated and likely to leave. Many have left. Which leads to the second: The departure (and absence) of people who have a lot of experience and could potentially make a positive difference for the new people coming in.
DM: Not enough filters perhaps, meaning keeping the real vampires that want to share information or learn more and those that are starry eyed separated.
RVN: In summary, have you anything else you would like to add?
SB: Just another shout out of appreciation to the people who are out there working in their communities, online and off, to make things better. And everyone working to educate and show that vampirism is not all about serial killers and sparkling teenagers. And of course to everyone who has supported and continues to support GetFanged.Com
R: These are just my opinions about the OVC/VC. I hope and plan to become more involved in the VC. I still have much to learn and to discover. I am a person but I’m not human. I choose this life and it has become me.
DM: I wish that I could offer more, perhaps in another year or so I can 😉
RVN: Thank you very much for sharing your insights and opinions with us this evening.
SB: Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this discussion, and for RVN.
R: Hope none of this has offended anyone but I believe that WE need to come together. Feel free to email me at Riley_is_amazing@yahoo.com for any comments, questions, complaints, etc. I would like to hear your feedback.
It has been said, many times over, that getting vampires to agree on anything is like herding cats; one noted commentator came up with a unique name for a group of vampires, he called it a “bicker”, is there ever going to be a chance to change these perceptions? Is there ever going to be a time of relatively “productive peace” in the OVC? Is the best we can hope for to have the “community” continue exactly as it is ad infinitum and if not who is it up to to change things?
Regardless of your personal views, dear reader, if we are ever going to be able to enjoy a relatively peaceful and desirable OVC something, or things, do need to change. How they change and what effect those changes will have are, in reality, up to the community and its members… not just a few but certainly the majority.
© RVN, Dolphinmoon, Silver Black and Riley, 2012
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