It is hard to think about what the paranormal community did before the rise of the Internet, let alone social media. I truly believe the Internet has had a major contribution to the growth of the paranormal community due to the fact that it has connected like-minded people in a venue where you don’t have to travel. The Internet has provided a safe place for those who have had experiences to keep their anonymity while seeking advice and help. But, we do not live in a perfect world, and the rise of the Internet hasn’t been a completely positive contribution to the paranormal community. It seems that the positive impacts that have been accomplished are becoming overshadowed by the negative complications that have arisen. Today, there appears to be an over inflation of drama, invasion of personal privacy, threats, and more.
Where has it gone wrong?
Before social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace came around, there were websites and message boards dedicated to the topic of the paranormal. These sites gave users a chance to create their own usernames, and information that could still leave some mystery. People could come as they were and network, along with being heavily monitored by administrators and moderators. Granted, this wasn’t a perfect world either, but it didn’t seem quite so…dramatic. The anonymity was there, which gave people that security blanket and the bravery to be more bold, but it was easy to dismiss since they were just a username on a message board.
Then, we come to the rise of Facebook and Facebook groups. When it comes to this special social media site, everyone and their dogs and babies are on it. Most people have one profile only that include their real names, photos of their children, location, age, and more. When you join these groups with your one profile with all of your information exposed, you are taking a risk of someone looking into you. It seems that because of these extra bits of information, and the better ability to connect and network, there is now a plethora of drama. Groups can be dedicated to slamming one individual. Teams can engage in popularity contests based on the number of likes on a fan page. People can create duplicates of your own profile and try to ruin your reputation; all because you either debunked their evidence, disagreed with them, or chose not to engage at all. Ultimately, hurt feelings, egos, and a desire to be famous has tainted the paranormal community and the progression of productive research. The Internet just exposed this shortcoming and gave it steroids.
Instead of networking, debating, and exchanging of ideas, it seems as though that social media has turned the paranormal into one big popularity contest. People don’t join groups to objectively discuss anymore, but rather find a group that will agree and not challenge anyone’s fake photos or theory. Furthermore, I feel that the paranormal community’s presence on social media is slowly turning into a brothel of negativity. As productive members of the paranormal community, what can we do to change this course?
What it all comes down to is that we are all on the same ship, but the ship has multiple wheels, so the ship can’t go forward because there are so many directions that the paranormal community can go. Either we can all abandon ship and go our own course in our own lifeboats without trying to shoot the other lifeboats out of the water, or come to a universal consensus to use one wheel. Whichever decision we all come to, it all comes down to respect. Not everyone is meant to agree with each other, but we can all respect each other. No one has nominated anyone to be a hero or a martyr in the paranormal community to try to fix it all. Basically, if we can all adopt a “code of ethics” that includes respect, a willingness to accept criticism and feedback, and a positive attitude, I wonder what we could accomplish in this field?
In the end, this dream is pretty much a “land of milk and honey” fantasy. But even if one person or two could start adopting this mantra, how long will it take before it becomes contagious?