Safety First

By

Tim

It is a well known fact that, in any society, social group or population there are dangerous elements. Predators, bullies and criminals who thrive on their perception of having, or exerting, power over others. The VC and OVC is no exception. Couple with this the fact that as vampyres we also risk exposing ourselves to a much higher risk factor – from normal people. Their lack of understanding, their preconceptions and pre-programmed responses to our kind often drive them to extremes of behaviour that, quite possibly, they would not exhibit under normal circumstances. It is also a sad fact that “extremists” within our own community can, and do, undo the good work of months, if not years, with one foolish, dangerous or criminal act that makes negative headlines about vampyres.

Some of you reading this may say, “Yeah, yeah… blah, blah, blah…”, some may feel that I am preaching to the converted but believe me, there is never a time when it is sensible to put your own health and safety at risk and it is important that we periodically remind ourselves of that fact. There is never a time when we can afford to be complacent, or negligent, of our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those close to us.

 

On the 9th of March this year a friend of mine posted the following message (excerpted)

Quote:

“I told a group of boys about sanguinarians, as they asked me, and now I’m taking harassment DAILY, and they’re threatening to tell everyone I’m a vampire. I have not told them EXPLICITLY that I’m a vampire, only that I have vampiric friends, and now I’m dealing with them threatening to go tell administration what I am, as well as telling everyone else to give me shit. How do I deal with this without snapping? I’ve tried ignoring them, but it’s only getting worse.”

And went on to say,

“I’m scared, and I don’t know what to do. This bullying is making me really depressed, and I could use some help.”

Seemingly an uncomplicated bullying situation, “kids being kids” you might even say but does that make it acceptable in any sense? No.

 

Personal safety and security is always important but there are even better reasons to be careful and discreet when you are a vampyre.

Take the case of Elementary school teacher LaTanya Wiggins who was stood down from her teaching job pending a psychological assessment because, as she put it, her co-workers misinterpreted the trouble she was having with a teenage daughter, who became involved with a group of youths who claim they are vampires. The youths reportedly tried to convince Wiggins’ daughter that she was a vampire, too.

This woman’s career was almost ruined because her daughter hung around with kids claiming to be vampyres. [1]

The case, in Australia, of a Melbourne mother who has blamed her 14-year-old daughter’s suicide on the internet and the tragic case has highlighted the problem of cyber bullying among young people.

Speaking on Melbourne radio, mother Karen Rae is in no doubt that cyber bullying was responsible for the death of her 14-year-old daughter.

“Friday night she was on the internet and told me about some message that had come through, and she wanted to die because of the message,” Ms Rae said.

“I laid in bed with her in my bed and we discussed it for about an hour and she left me fairly happy. I can guarantee you if she didn’t go on the internet Friday night she’d be alive today.”[2]

Other contemporary and tragic cases such as those of Carly Ryan [3] , Megan Meier [4], Kylie Kenney [5] and Roderick Justin (Rod) Ferrell [6] serve to remind us that terrible things can and do happen.

Unfortunately, the vampyre community, whether deserved or not, has not been able to escape unscathed. In July 1996 a reporter for the New York Village Voice named Susan Walsh disappeared and she was never seen again. There are reports that she was going down the street to use a pay phone. She left her personal belongings in her apartment including her pager and her billfold with her ID and money. At the time Susan was doing a piece on the vampire sub culture clubs in New York City. She told friends that she had met a man who claimed to be a real vampire, and told them that she was dating him. Many of Susan’s friends claim she was abducted by this unknown man.

Whether true or not mud, as we know, sticks and the common consensus is that Susan’s disappearance was connected to the vampyre community. Since then the comment has been posted;

“Susan Walsh would probably be alive and well raising her son if she had used more caution when trying to contact Vampires.”

Discretion is the better part of…

Do your research before disclosing personal information

Communicating with someone online is always a situation fraught with possibilities. On the one hand they could be a really nice, sensible and helpful person who happens to share things in common with you while, on the other hand, they could be a deviant predator bent on making your life a living hell; situations that are poles apart but each equally as likely.

Common safeguards are the same, whether you are in the communities or not. Be DISCREET. Do not reveal too much of yourself and, if and when the other person becomes a good, trusted and long time friend keep the discussions of private matters just that – Private.

Communicating in the online vampyre communities can bring a whole new group of psychological forces into play and can have quite a bearing on your life and peace of mind if you let it. If someone offers to “turn” you (into a vampyre) be suspicious of their motives and generally steer clear of them. If someone offers to join you in “everlasting love eternal”, be suspicious, it may be harmless fantasy or it may be something sinister and dangerous.

There are a wealth of sites, both government and non-government that offer hints and tips for online safety and most will give you the same basic advice about the “do’s” and “don’ts” of online interactions.

Again, unfortunately, the Online Vampyre Communities are fraught with those who would “bully” others. This appears to be especially prevalent against newcomers to the community and there ARE people in the online communities who seem to enjoy following other members, or targeting certain posts, and subjecting the author to ridicule, harassment, abuse and personal attacks. While this is unfortunate it is also, inevitably, a part of online interactions in any community or group. The best advice that I can give, the practice that I follow when this happens to me, is DON’T RESPOND. Ignore completely and utterly the person who is attempting to harass you, who is attempting to draw you into conflict. Do not dignify their messages with any sort of response and do not refer to their posted messages in any way in other messages you may leave. If they persist and even, perhaps, send you “Personal messages” via your browser system, IM system or community PM’s then report them to the ISP of the host server. Bullying is still bullying whether it is at the park down the street or online.

Another thought that may spring to mind is: “Can I be found by someone using a computer?”

The answer is YES and you might be surprised at how easily it can be done. The IP address of your computer can be traced with a remarkable degree of accuracy and there are many programs available to enable this, even if you use an IP masking program that is designed to continually re-route your path on the internet this too can be untangled and traced.

If you want to see just how much is available in this line simply Google the term IP tracer, or IP tracker.

“Coming Out of the Coffin”

 The commonly used term, that stands for declaring yourself as a modern day vampyre and being proud of it is at once an admirable thought and a possibly detrimental move.

When deciding whether to “declare” yourself a vampyre or not there are a great number of considerations to be taken into account. The effects on your immediate social circles as evidenced in the situation I outlined at the beginning of this editorial. The risk of being persecuted and bullied for your views and opinions, there can be negative effects on your immediate family and friends, your professional and/or community reputation may be harmed and, as always, you run the risk of being labeled a crank, a weirdo or worse. While there are significant efforts being made to educate those who are not of the communities I am of the opinion that the world, in general, is not ready to accept the reality of modern vampyres and will almost certainly, in the main, regard us suspiciously and negatively.

This decision is one that can have profound, far reaching and dramatic impact on your life and peace of mind. Don’t treat the matter lightly and don’t “come out” simply for the sake of being “in with the crowd” or seen as “cool”… it will backfire in a great many cases.

Educate yourself.

There are, online, a great many resources that will help the newcomer understand the pitfalls and realities of being a modern vampyre. Fine and long running places such as SphynxCat’s Vampire Support Page [7] and Lady CG and HellKat’s Smoke and Mirrors [8] offer sound support and a wealth of good advice and information for the newcomer. There are articles, editorials and forum discussions on almost every aspect of modern vampyrism and before you decide which way to proceed in the communities I strongly recommend that you take advantage of the advice offered by those who have done it. Experience, after all, is one of the best teachers.

Reading books, while useful as a guide, will naturally expose you to the views and conclusions of the author. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it is, I believe, a very important part of the learning and decision making process, that you get as many viewpoints as possible on which to base your own decisions. Everybody experiences things differently and the sharing of these experiences is important in gaining a balanced overall view and perception of the reality of a situation.

There are those who will say:

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

I would respond to that by saying,

“You should make the kitchen less hot and threatening.”

 

There are a great many in the communities who are striving to do just that but, like any community, there are dissidents and troublemakers. I recently became aware of one instance where an allegedly “senior” member of the OVC referred to a sixteen year old newcomer as an “unlikable little f**k” simply because the young person had voiced (written) an opinion. Unfortunately that does go with the territory to some extent and we are all exposed in one way or another, which still doesn’t make bullying and abuse right.

Senior members of the communities have a responsibility, I would argue, to help, nurture and educate newcomers, a responsibility to demonstrate a certain level of maturity and leadership in helping newcomers to learn. If an opinion is “off beam” for lack of relevant information or experience then point the newcomer in the right direction by suggestion ~ don’t degrade, insult and dismiss them that is NOT how a community thrives.

So, while we must be prepared to come up against these negative influences and decide how to deal with them, again, experience is the best teacher, communicate with those who have been around the communities for a good length of time and see what you can learn from them but don’t just accept things on blind faith. Keep your mind open and your wits about you and the communities can be a wonderful source of friendships, knowledge and help.

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[1] Wiggins

[2] Rae

[3] Ryan

[4] Meier

[5] Kenney

[6]  Ferrell

[7]  Sphynxcat’s Real Vampires Support Page

[8]  Smoke and Mirrors

 

Further References:

EHow: Safety Rules While Using The Internet

EHow: The F.B.I’s Internet safety Tips

Dep’t. of Justice, U.S., Or. State – Internet safety pdf.

 

 

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