I don’t usually read mundane advice columns. I’m always suspicious of the veracity of the letters and the advice generally ranges from “calculated to preserve the conventional status quo” to downright dangerous and bad. For example, I’ve seen people in overtly battering relationships given suggestions that could get them hurt. But a friend brought my attention to today’s “Annie’s Mailbox” column. In their reply to a purported 18-year-old woman who was worried about telling her parents she met her new boyfriend online, columnists Kathy and Marcy inserted the comment, “We trust it isn’t a chat room for, say, vampires.”
And what if it is? What the fuck do they mean by that? A rhetorical question, of course: the implication is that parents should be upset if their 18-year-old daughter has met someone from a “vampire chat room.” By dropping this stupid and gratuitous smear, the editors promote all the stereotypes about the OVC and vampire-themed websites: that the people in them are predatory, weird, dangerous, or belong to cults. Since the letter-writer hadn’t said anything about the online venue in which she met her boyfriend, the speculation was completely uncalled for. While there are certainly dangers on the Internet, as I discuss in “Human Vampire-Like Predators,” these dangers are not focused in any topical venue. Predators go wherever their targeted victims do, and there are no more of them, proportionately, in vampire-themed forums than in forums devoted to teenage fandoms or adult singles. (In fact, singles chat rooms and forums are probably the most dangerous places online, hands down. I wouldn’t go near them!)
I wrote to Kathy and Marcy objecting to the comment and saying they owed vampire forum members an apology. I don’t expect that they’ll pay any attention–although, if they receive a number of e-mails, they may have to. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.