Develop a thick skin, and learn to accept criticism
I am contacted on almost a daily basis from people through inboxes and emails, most with the same question. They are people with an interest in the paranormal and want to dive in. They want to become investigators and be a part of the community. They all seem to ask the one same question. What advice do you have for someone starting out? I answer the same thing to each and every person….. Develop a thick skin and learn to accept criticism.
I am not trying to scare them away. I am being honest and I know all investigators here will agree with me on this one. Why do you need a thick skin? People in general can sometimes be assholes. People hiding behind keyboards can be super assholes. The paranormal is a widely misunderstood field and quite often people can be scared to advertise to the world that it is something they are involved in. Perfect example for you. When I first started out, I was pretty open about it and would tell everyone what I was doing, where I was going and tag myself at locations on facebook. I felt like I was constantly defending myself. I would have people ask me about it and you can see by the look on their face they were secretly mocking me. Eye rolling, trying to hold back a laugh, jokes at my expense and then whispers as I would walk away. Some of these people were good friends and it really hurt. Why could they not be supportive? I continued on my adventures and chose not to talk about it as much with people. One day I went to Aradale Lunatic Asylum which I had been excited about for months. I as well as most people, wanted to get a photo on the morgue tray in the morgue. It is just what you do when you goto Aradale. All excited I put my photo up on Facebook. It was taken down a few hours later and I felt defeated. People I knew, people I worked with and people I went to school with were mocking me. One told me I was weird and didn’t expect that from me. Other’s made jokes and I knew them well enough to know they were having a go. Another simply wrote ‘You are fucked in the head’. Now obviously these are not people I want to associate myself with and I did a massive FB cull not long after, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt my feelings.
This is where you need the thick skin. Not everyone is going to understand your motivation for doing it. The paranormal is somewhat a lot more popular even than it was 3.5 years ago when I actively joined the community and it is a little bit more acceptable. There are even to this day people that make fun, ridicule me and just think I am plain weird, but I have started to develop that thick skin and it doesn’t bother me as much any more. Aside from all the negative people, I have a bunch of really positive people in my life. Some of my friends don’t understand the paranormal and don’t want to get involved, but they are still extremely supportive of what I do because that is just what true friends do. You are going to get attacked by people – mostly online. You might put up a photo of what is the best piece of evidence you think anyone has ever found, and you will still cop it. You will be accused of trickery, fakery, deception, lying, cheating all of these things. You will know within yourself what the truth is and people around you will know what the truth is, and you really just have to ignore it and not let it bother you. There will be people jealous of you and your accomplishments, people get territorial over locations and a lot of people or groups just don’t get along. With this comes conflict which you will see a lot of online. This brings me to the second part to the advice I give. Even if you have the thick skin and it doesn’t bother you, you need to learn to accept criticism.
This is probably the hardest part but one of the most important parts. If you put up a piece of evidence for example, expect it to be picked apart. This can actually be a good thing. Weed out the trolls and ignore those comments, but listen to the people that know what they are talking about. If you put up a photo of these amazing orbs you have caught, people will explain to you why it is not paranormal. A lot of investigators take the time when responding to give a full explanation, give you diagrams, links to articles and it is not to be an ass. They are doing it to help you and to educate you. There are 2 ways you can react. The popular thing to do seems to be to block and delete said individual because you don’t want anything contradicting your opinion online or you don’t want any negative comments. This is a big mistake. It is a mistake because they are giving you valid advice that you can learn from and you are also showing the greater community that you are close minded and not serious about being an investigator. Take on board this advice. Next time you have this kind of photo you will know how to debunk it. If something similar comes up, you could go as far as talking to this person to get their opinion, they will probably be happy to help you. It is refreshing to find someone online who is willing to admit they got it wrong. You will earn a lot more respect within the paranormal field and you will find people will be more willing to help you.
At the other end, again there will be trolls that just want to start a fight. People have different opinions on this one but for me, I don’t take the bait. I might bitch about it behind closed doors, but you will not see me engage online. There is a difference between expressing an opinion to just straight out causing trouble for the sake of it. It can be difficult to distinguish but I personally do not engage in these kind of things. I know other people that won’t lie down and will respond because that is who they are and this is OK too. We all have a right to an opinion and we all need to respect each other’s opinions. It is possible to have a debate with someone who has a different opinion and end it on a positive note. We don’t have to agree on everything, but it is how you handle the situation.
Remember, EVERYONE is entitled to an opinion. Just because your opinion may differ, doesn’t mean they are wrong. Start a debate, present your side of the story, don’t take low blows and argue for the sake of it. It gets us no where. Be diplomatic and quite simply, don’t be an ass.
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