Understanding the importance of your voice
One of the main problems a lot of people will agree on within the paranormal field is that there are no regulations. There is no qualification to become a paranormal investigator. It is mostly an unproven field and is often based on a person's beliefs and experiences. Anyone can do an interview in a magazine or on tv. Anyone can make a Facebook page or write articles online. Anyone can start a YouTube channel or podcast. Anyone can even self publish a book on amazon these days. It is this openness that makes the paranormal field welcoming to pretty much everyone. It doesn't matter where you have come from, you can have a place in the field - even with little experience. While this is a perk of the paranormal field, it can also be one of it's biggest flaws when it comes to misinformation. It is why we have a responsibility, not only to ourselves but to the paranormal field in general to ensure that the information we are presenting, is educated, informed, transparent and genuine.
In general, people within the paranormal field have more of a public platform than ever before. We can post our questions and supposed evidence in Facebook groups for others to pick apart, we can tweet our thoughts, we can upload videos of our investigations to YouTube and we can live stream our thoughts all across social media. There will always be at least someone taking notice of what you do. With this comes great responsibility. What if the person that is watching these videos or reading your thoughts is someone starting to navigate their way through the complicated paranormal field. They don't necessarily know where to start, so they start searching for as much information as they possibly can. Perhaps they stumble across an article on a website of a paranormal group. A lot of groups have their own websites and often they contain what is like a paranormal glossary. It has their interpretation of what an EVP is or what the Stonetape theory is etc. What happens though if the information written is not entirely correct? What if the publisher of the site doesn't have a proper understanding of what these things really are or how they work and they are just publishing their interpretations? What if you post a video to YouTube that is edited in a way to imply something paranormal has happened when you know it didn't? Boring videos won't get as many subscribers right so you think there is no harm in embellishing things a little bit? Maybe you want to get lots of likes on Facebook so you think there is no harm posting a photo that you know is fake, it is just to get more people on the page. Suddenly, the people ready to learn searching for information is going to see these things and take it on board. This is where the spread of misinformation starts. They suddenly have a skewed view of the field based on what they have seen because they don't know any different. While you may think it is harmless, it can be damaging to the field as a whole.
While there is a lot of misinformation out there, we need to look at ourselves first and foremost and how we conduct ourselves. It can even be as simple as replying to a comment on a Facebook post. If you are quoting information that is relevant to the paranormal field, we have a responsibility as representatives of the paranormal field to ensure that this information is correct. Back up your claims with facts. It can become increasingly difficult when discussions are belief based. If you are a person that is led by religion, it is important to understand that not everyone follows your religion. It doesn't make their belief wrong, it makes it different. If you are a person led by experience, it is important to understand that a lot of people require proof, not just your word for it. If you are a skeptical person, it is important to understand that someone genuinely believes they have had a paranormal experience. They aren't going to respond well with a tone implying they are crazy. Where does it leave us, how on earth can we all co exist with such different belief systems with no proof?
The answer is respect and integrity. Even if someone has a different opinion, treat them with respect. If you have the information, present it to them in a respectful way to help educate. If you are arrogant in your approach, they most likely won't take it in. Be honest about who you are and what it is you do. There is no such thing as a paranormal expert, so don't pretend to be one. If you are confident enough to present your research publicly in the form of education, make sure you are presenting the correct information. Anyone can hold a 'lecture' relating to the paranormal. While people attend them to learn, it is the responsibility of the speaker to not only present a talk that people will find entertaining enough to sit through for an hour, but the information HAS to be correct. At a certain point, a lot of paranormal researchers take on the role of trying to educate people within the field. While this is great and imperative to the development of the field, it is important that they are educating with information that is correct. In a lot of ways there is always going to be some bias, but encourage people to do their research and form their opinions. Encourage them to think. Point them in the right direction but most importantly encourage people to ask questions, which brings me to the final point.
When you are new to the field and wanting to learn, how do you know who to listen to? There are a lot of people in the paranormal field that are really good at talking. I have alluded to this in the past because we have all met them. They are the type of person that could literally convince someone that the sky was purple. Just because someone is good at talking, doesn't necessarily mean the information they are talking about is correct. It is where the person receiving the information needs to start asking questions. I think in general we as a field need to be asking more questions and stop taking the information we are given at face value. If for example someone is talking to you about a paranormal theory. Start asking questions. What are their beliefs? What research have they conducted on the matter? What historical information do they know about the theory? Very quickly, you will be able to tell the people who know what they are talking about, compared to the 'talkers'. On the other end, if you are someone presenting information and you can't answer these questions, you probably shouldn't be on such a public platform.
While you may feel that you don't have a responsibility in the field, remember every post that you do on social media is a statement. Every YouTube video can have an effect on a an impressionable newbie. The way you conduct yourself on an investigation is equally important. People are watching and learning. You may not think you have an impact but you do. You may not think your voice is important but it is. Choose your words wisely and represent your field with honesty and integrity. You won't get through to everyone, but the best way you can get your message across is not only through your voice, but from your actions as well. Don't just talk to the talk, walk it as well.
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