Sometimes I try to imagine the world in which J.B Rhine, Hans Holzer, and Harry Price investigated the paranormal and I realize just how much things have changed. Investigators didn’t have the technology of today so video cameras were not readily available and distributing your findings meant writing an article for a journal or publishing a book. There was time to collect data, analyze, and consider how this information fit into the framework of all things paranormal. There are many wonderful things about technology as it relates to the paranormal field but two have done very little to help our situation.
The first one is paranormal television and you can read more about why investigators often dislike these “reality” tv shows here. The second is social media.
Social media has opened up an opportunity for large groups of people to communicate quickly over large distances. We can drop in and comment on what others are doing and discuss changes in the field in an informal arena. While this can be good, it also has its dark side. Social media has become a place where individuals can hide behind a computer screen and insult fellow investigators. It is a place for sharing fake evidence without repercussion and it is an arena for self-promotion.
Paranormal investigation has a large following of voyeurs (people who love to watch and comment from outside of the field). And one of the most concerning developments is the increase in the question “Are you going live?” This question appears not only when groups are doing public investigations or private outings but when they are investigating client homes. I understand that television has made it popular to film a home investigation but people don’t realize just how invasive that can be. (Also the legal implications of doing such a thing.) Paranormal investigation has gone from a serious pursuit to understand unexplained phenomena to a form of entertainment for the keyboard warrior.
When at a popular “haunted” location, I don’t mind doing a “live” to show people the grounds but when entertainment interferes with the investigative process and/or the privacy of others, I draw the line. I appreciate that people are fascinated by the paranormal (I am too). I have a million questions and want to know more as I’m sure all of you do too. But, we have to draw a line in the sand and start saying what is or is not appropriate.
- People’s real fear in their home is not entertainment.
- Using the dead as circus monkeys is not entertainment.
Podcasts that discuss phenomena are not the issue here nor are the many articles and blogs that discuss theory, technique, and evidence. The problem is the untold numbers of videos out there showing “adventure” ghost hunting, “demon” possessions, fake evidence, and the rampant disrespect for the locations and their dead. Even if the phenomena isn’t dead people, would you really want someone yelling profanities about your deceased loved one? My guess is no.
Next time you interact with your local paranormal team online, think before you post. Respectful investigation is often boring but very important to the long term goals of many investigators in the field. Paranormal investigators do not exist to entertain the masses. We exist because there is phenomena occurring in homes and businesses that make it difficult for the living to go about their daily activities. We exist to learn about this phenomena and help people deal with these issues. We want to know more and better understand the world around us.
We are a field of searchers. We are searching for answers to some of the largest questions, “do we go on?” and “what causes strange phenomena experienced by people around the world?” This is interesting research and people should want to know more. Just be respectful and thoughtful about how you interact with investigators, locations, clients, the dead, and anyone else you encounter on this journey. Skepticism is perfectly fine but being a jerk isn’t. I can ask that people spend less time encouraging/watching the “shock” adventure ghost hunting videos online but I know that is a lost cause. It would be nice to find a way to not encourage this type of investigation but as long as the audience exists, it will continue.
For now, I ask you to be respectful of the teams working in the field. Understand that we can’t tell you everything we are doing or share every location. We share when we can and what we share is our honest assessment of a situation. This means that it won’t be constant entertainment but you can trust that it is real.
Until next time, Happy Learning!