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What is a Vampire?
by Lyssa Moon
vampire (n) -s [F, fr. G vampir of Slav origin; akin to Serb vampir vampire, Russ upyr]
1: a bloodsucking ghost or reanimated body of a dead person believed to come from the grave and wander about by night sucking the blood of persons asleep and causing their death
2a: one who lives by preying mercilessly on others : EXTORTIONER, BLOODSUCKER, b: a mercenary unscrupulous woman who seduces, exploits, and ruins her lover: as (1) : a stage character of this kind (2) : an actress playing such roles
3: also vampire bat any of various bats reputed to feed on blood...
4: a stage trapdoor for sudden disappearances.
From Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language -- Unabridged © 1986 by Merriam-Webster Inc.
Since every time the question of "What exactly is a vampire?" is asked, it is met by countless different answers -- each one suiting the needs of the individual generating the definition (usually designed to include him/herself in that category, while excluding the others whom he/she does not like) -- I decided to look for a nice, objective definition. Please forgive me for using such a heretical source as a dictionary to find a definition of a word.
In any event, since so many different groups within the "vampire community" seem to each have their own ideas of what a vampire - and often, for emphasis, a real vampire - is, and furthermore, each attack those groups whose definition does not agree with their own, I realized that an answer was not to be found within any of the various factions within the "vampire community". Since each faction is so quick to accuse the others of re-defining the word for their own convenience -- a grave accusation -- it seemed to me that there was a need to determine who has the rightful claim to the true definition of the word vampire; i.e. who are the real vampires.
Upon reading Webster's definitions, it quickly became apparent that no one in the community is claiming to be either a bat, or a trapdoor, so I took the liberty of truncating definition 3, and it would seem that definition 4 is also irrelevant to the discussion. These four being the only definitions listed in the dictionary would seem to indicate that we only need concern ourselves with definitions 1 and 2. It seems to be a consensus among the vast majority of the community that definition 1 refers to a creature of fiction, and those who claim to meet that definition are either roleplaying, posing, or merely delusional.
This leaves us with definition 2. That is the only category of people who can rightfully claim the title of "real vampire". The sanguinarians might claim that because the word "bloodsucker" appears in this definition, that it can be construed to include them, but, in truth, even those of us who need to drink blood for our health do not fall under this definition, because the use of the word as a synonym in this definition is merely a colloquial expression for the definition spelled out in 2a. Interestingly enough, within the vampire community, I have seen plenty of people who meet definition 2a and/or 2b (in the modern gender-equality days, we can replace "woman" with "person", and "her" with "his/her", to grant even more people legitimate claim to the title of "vampire"). So many that I have begun to wonder if the existence of a "vampire community" inherently draws such mercilessly predatory people to it -- whether these people are conscious of what they are doing to their prey or not.
In short, those whom we tend to expel from the Real Vampire Community for taking advantage of, abusing, exploiting, or destroying others by luring them in with talk of love, trust, friendship, community, or any other such bait, are the very people who have the most valid claim to the title "Real Vampire". Do I want these people in my community? Absolutely not. Do I, as a sanguinarian who needs to drink the blood of living humans for my health, have a greater claim to the term "vampire" than they do? Absolutely not. I have come to the conclusion that neither I, nor any other sanguinarian, nor any "psychic vampire", nor any "environmental vampire", nor any other 'flavor' of "vampire" have a valid claim to that word unless they happen to meet Webster's aforementioned definition 2 (a or b).
This leads to the next question: Are those who have the "vampire community" signs of vampirism predisposed to having the Websterian vampiric tendency in their personalities? If my experience in the vampire communities online can be extrapolated, it would seem to certainly be so. As such, those claiming to be 'real vampires' may actually be what they claim to be. Carefully consider what you are confessing to when you choose to proudly wear that label, and remember that even if you are NOT one of these predators, that there are others in the community who are.
This is not to claim that anyone who identifies with the word "vampire" who is NOT one of these merciless predators is a fake; in fact, I long used the word to describe myself before I realized what it actually meant. There are sanguinarians who need to drink blood for their health; there are "psychic vampires" who drain the life energy out of individuals and groups to "feed" themselves. These are real and legitimate conditions, but they do not, themselves, make someone into a vampire -- or do they?
Be careful when trusting a community named after people who are, by definition, merciless predators.
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