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Recently I was watching a TV show centered around four female friends and their, um, “entanglements”. One of them, Savi, had just had an unplanned one-night stand with someone who was not her husband, and hadn’t yet shared that with her girlfriends. She is tormented by guilt. Another, April, has taken to idolizing her dead husband – until she finds out that not only did he have another woman in his life, but he had a son with her.

This sends April into continuing fits of rage. In one scene she complains angrily to Savi (not yet knowing Savi’s secret) that cheaters are the lowest of the low, asking what kind of person betrays someone that they claimed to love? April continues to excoriate and condemn her husband, not knowing how every vitriolic barb she lobs lands straight in Savi’s heart, until Savi interrupts her, quietly saying “I cheated on my husband last night.” April is stunned for a moment, then angrily shouts at her, “I didn’t want to know that – you should never have told me that!”

And that was when I knew that April was a vampire.

You see, in the above scene, April is basically saying that Savi as her friend has an obligation to be there for her, and that by admitting what she (Savi) had done, April lost that support structure. But what’s really kind of nasty is that April is only interested in herself in that moment, and zero percent interested in her supposed friend’s torment.

No, April would rather Savi keep it to herself, even though April’s words were cutting her to ribbons. April somehow thinks it Savi’s duty to ignore her own well-being for April’s. And that is the essence of the vampire: they expect you to put their needs ahead of your own – and feel entitled to it. Period.

Vampires are everywhere, people who have an agenda for you that is not to your benefit, but is definitely to theirs. Users. Pushers. Life-force consumers. Vampires.

Here are a few examples:

  • A guy sees two gays kissing in the park. He tells them that they should be ashamed of being perverted in public – but look under the surface and it’s clear that he’d really like them to stop because seeing it disturbs him. And why shouldn’t the actions of those around him be limited by what he can handle?
  • A woman, hearing you criticize the country, tells you if you don’t love it, you should leave it. Why? Because those are the only two options she wants you to choose from – conveniently ignoring the “work for change” third option – because the change you want she doesn’t! What a peach!
  • A fellow who considers himself generally morally superior tries to convince you that lying is wrong, never right, and that you should always tell the truth, regardless of circumstances. Why? Because it’s a cornerstone of his belief system and apparently it’s more important for you to support his beliefs than act towards your own well-being, should there ever be a conflict. Nice guy.
  • A religious leader tells his followers that women shouldn’t be bread-winners, that they ought to be subject to their husbands and stay at home to do their “natural” work there. He says that it isn’t natural for women to behave like men, compete with men, wear pants, and generally be all independent-like. Again, scratch the surface and one can see that what the “moral leader” really wants is male dominance over women – because that’s what he likes and is comfortable with – and his “theories” are just a smokescreen to try to get it.
  • A used car salesman is telling you how the car he is trying to sell you is the perfect match for your wallet and your needs. Of course, he doesn’t tell you that the transmission is about shot, or that there’s a crack in the engine block, because he’s not really thinking about what’a good for you, but about what’s good for him – like getting you to part with your money!

All these people have one thing in common. They all want the people around them to modify their behavior without regard to what their targets might want or what might actually be good for them. And they push this agenda not honestly – because who would be persuaded by a campaign of “Stop gays from making out in public because it sickens me” – but by using tricks, coercion, and any other thing they can to prevent people from figuring out for themselves what’s in their own rational self-interest.

To be clear, this is not about a demagogue stirring up a mob to go after those they don’t like – which is horrible, but not vampiric. A vampire is someone who attempts (through coercion, misdirection, or deceit) to make someone ignore their own best interest to instead wind up doing what the vampire wanted.

Vampires:

  • Want to secretly use you, not work with you,
  • Want the outcome that favors their agenda, no real consideration of your purposes,
  • Don’t want you to know that you are being used, as that would get in the way,
  • And definitely  doesn’t have your true best interests or actual well-being at heart.

Vampires are sneaky reprehensible predators, often wolves in sheep’s clothing. They feel so entitled to your obedience that they may not even be aware that they are trying to use you. These aren’t necessarily clever people – although some are – these are extremely self-centered life-suckers that don’t always get why your first instinct isn’t to accede to their wishes.

Some try to steamroll over your ability to choose your own self-interest with force of personality and coercion. Others seek to bamboozle and manipulate you into thinking that the choice they want you to make is in your best interests when it’s really not. Still others use deceit so that you don’t really understand what your options are in the first place. All of them though share a common perspective – your place in life is to serve them, and whatever they need to do to get you to do that, they will. After all, they deserve it, right?

Wrong. They’re just vampires, and like the mythical kind, a little metaphorical sunlight can send them scurrying back into the shadows. But watch out for them, because they are everywhere.

  • raane

    I love this post, Benn. I think you are likely right in the things you say. Although, frankly, it would be beyond odd to find someone who was more interested in fulfilling the needs of everyone around him than in taking care of his own needs. It may be hard-wired in order to keep our species going, like survival of the fittest.

  • benjamingrant

    Thanks for the kinds words. I think the key thing about vampires is that they don’t seem to be able to put themselves truly in another’s shoes. It’s not that they shouldn’t put their own needs first, it’s just that their feeling that their needs *deserve* to be prioritized over ours is narcissistic and vampiric.

    A rational person will still work to get their own needs met, *but* they will also expect you to do the same – and encourage it! That’s my thinking, anyways.