The world of the Internet, for those who can still remember a time before it existed, is an astounding thing. Some see it as an unprecedented opportunity; an exchange of information an ideas; a chance to find and network with like-minded, kindred spirits. The Internet, some say, is an opportunity to meet those who can remind you that you're not alone. And for a self-identified vampire on the cusp of Awakening, this can be an invaluable thing.
But for every positive there is a negative; for every positive testimonial, a horror story. Hundreds, if not thousands, of articles have been written and published on the subject of Internet safety and the dangers of assuming everyone turns on their computer with the same intent.
In a recent interview with community leader and founder of the New Orleans Vampire Association (NOVA), Belfazaar Ashantison (Zaar), several members of the community mentioned the importance of real-life interactions amongst self-identified vampires, grounding the OVC by making it an extension of a primarily flesh-and-blood experience. Comments have also been made regarding a propensity to dismiss self-identied vampires who exclusively rely on the Internet for their vampiric life (also often referred to as one's "Nightside").
But is it reasonable to invalidate or dismiss those members of the OVC who may not have found a way to connect with other real vampires in their area? While some may live within, or reasonably near, well-known vampire "hubs" such as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta or New Orleans, others may find themselves isolated in small towns, never knowing where to begin. Some have even reported negative experiences with what's known in the community as "lifestylers" or fetishists - those who are not vampires themselves, but still emulate various aspects of the vampire mythology and/or lifestyle in social settings. A real vampire with these kinds of experiences may then retreat, choosing social seclusion, subsequently relying only on the connections made and conversations hosted through various channels of the OVC.
Posted today on the Facebook group Vampire Community News (VCN) was a poll regarding this topic. Members of the OVC were asked "How many self-identified 'real vampires' - psychic, sanguinarian, living, etc." they had met in real life. And while the current most popular choices are 3-5 and 6-10, not far behind is "none".
While the reasons for limiting one's Nightside to the Internet are varied, it begs the question: What is the OVC's place within the real vampire community? Should it be viewed exclusively as an extension of a physically social vampiric life, or can exceptions be made for those who are newly Awakened, isolated, or even those individuals who simply prefer to discuss their vampirism with others from a distance?
In a time where community unity is at the forefront of everyone's minds, wouldn't further severing the ranks of the OVC work against these goals? While the VC and the OVC are often very closely linked, as one blends into the other, can they also be considered 'separate but equal' opportunities to connect and learn?
How varied and valid are the places where real vampires meet?