The paranormal has a spotlight on it more than ever before. In the age of technology, we can communicate with people from the other side of the World, research material without having to physically visit a library and even attend conferences and paranormal investigations from the very comfort of our own homes. While social media has been around for a long time now, I feel like 2020 really changed things for the paranormal field. As the World was forced to isolate and paranormal investigating was put on the back burner, people had to move online to stay connected and involved. Sure a lot of people have been on these platforms sharing their work for a long time, but it feels like it has gone into overdrive over the last 12 months. While there are a lot of positives that come from being a part of the paranormal social media community, there are cons as well.
There is a big list you could make of the pros and cons. In a lot of ways though, the list of cons probably feels like it heavily outweighs the pros, yet here we are, on social media. You are probably reading this very post because you have clicked on a link posted on social media. If you are a regular reader of the blog, it is likely that most of you have found me again through one of the social media channels. If not through my own postings, through someone else who has posted one of my articles. I guess here lies the conundrum. While we may all be sick of the large list of cons associated with social media, we are still here. I know I am a sucker for it!
For a lot of people, social media is good for business. When I look at the website analytics of my blog for example, more than half of the readers of my website on any given week arrive there from a link posted on social media.
Social media has the ability to catapult someone into 15 minutes of fame with a viral video or photo. We cannot deny how useful a marketing tool social media has become. For those who run tours or have a business, a lot of referrals come from social media. For myself as a blogger, having a social media presence is essential. You even need to go as far as having share buttons on your content so that people can easily share it for others to read. This is how it works. We have sadly seen a lot of newspapers go out of circulation because more and more people digest their content online rather than a physical item. Just recently in Australia, Facebook blocked all new sites from being able to publish content on their platform as the news corporations wanted Facebook to pay a referral fee because this was how many people digest their content. I know when a big event happens, I tend to go to social media or I am informed about it because that is what people are posting about. It is a massive part of our daily lives.
There are a lot of arguments as to why a person would publicly advertise themselves on social media. 'To be famous' is not necessarily the reason. In fact, I would say the majority of people are not doing it for that reason. It is more that they want to share their adventures, collaborate with their peers, get second opinions and like in my case, channel their creative energy. We talk a lot about peer review in the paranormal field. I too have argued how important it is. A lot of people have pointed out and it is true that many see social media as a peer review tool when in the right settings. There are many groups that include like-minded individuals critiquing and talking about all things paranormal. Some feel this is their version of peer review, or the closest they can get to it.
Somewhere along the line, people decided that social media was not a place to channel their creative energy, but it was a place to channel the nastiness and pent up frustration that lingers inside. If there is something they don't believe or disagree with, they become quite vocal in displaying their opinion. It is often to the detriment of the person who is posting. I know myself I have been on the end of this and it is soul-crushing. You may think that because a person puts something out on a public forum that they are also inviting this kind of feedback. Yes, feedback is welcome, but aggressive and uncalled for insults are not.
When I put out the call to people that I was going to write a post about social media and the paranormal and what the pros and cons were, I received an overwhelming amount of people all with the same sentiment. That while social media was a great place to find and connect with people that have become friends, it had turned into a place where they felt harassed, bullied and ridiculed. It means that people who are out there doing amazing research no longer share their findings out of fear or what people behind a keyboard will say. It also means that a small portion of people has actually left the paranormal field because they simply can't take it anymore. It is very easy to tell someone to have thick skin and not worry about keyboard warriors, but we are humans with feelings. No one is made of stone and it can take one comment to push someone over the edge. In some ways, there is no point pleading with people to think about what they post etc because they aren't the kind of people who are reading this article. We can dwell on the negative but if you know me, I like to focus on the positives so that is exactly what I am going to do to finish out this article!
I want you to sit back and think of all of the people that you interact with from the paranormal community. How many of them would you have not met or even have spoken to on some level had it of not been for social media? After I attended my very first paranormal investigation, I started joining Facebook groups to talk to people. It was from here I eventually met others. While some I have lost touch with over the years as our paths took us in different directions, others have remained lifelong friends and huge support networks. I have people who I am great friends with that I have never met before (and maybe will never meet) because they live on the other side of the World. I most certainly would not have had the opportunity to connect with them had it not been for social media. While we focus on the negative, there are good things and social media platforms can be used for good.
Over the years I have been vocal about some of my health struggles. While it has been a bit of an emotional release to write about these sorts of things (as a lot of trauma and emotion is still carried by these things), I also found that I myself would seek out people on social media who were going through similar. I found myself gravitating to posts where people would talk about feeling the exact same way I was or finding it difficult some days just to function. Just knowing I was not alone and more importantly that it wasn't all in my head was a really important part of my own healing process. I decided to use my very small public platform and blog even though centred around paranormal content as a way to tell people about what I have been through in the hopes that maybe even one person may not feel so alone. I was overwhelmed to have people contact me telling me their own stories and not only that, many of them were in fact from the paranormal field and we have even developed friendships. These are friendships and even a form of healing that may not have occurred had it of not been for social media.
So I feel like there is a bit of a lesson we can maybe take away from this. Yes social media kind of sucks and unless you have the willpower to get rid of it, we are stuck in this kind of endless cycle. I always tell people I don't think I would have social media if I didn't need it for my blog, but really this is a cop-out. Of course I would still have it, and I would probably be a lot happier because I wouldn't be dealing with a lot of the paranormal drama that comes with social media. The thing is, this drama exists in all sorts of communities on and off social media. As a mum in the schoolyard, I can't tell you how much drama, cliques and politics there are. Even people in thermomix communities have drama. It is not just the paranormal field. It goes back to this concept of human nature.
I wish I had some great words of wisdom to end this post but I really don't. All I can say is yes it hurts when someone writes a rude comment. I am tired of seeing people getting ridiculed and attacked for asking a question or for sharing their experiences. Yes, I am tired of seeing posts between groups slagging each other off. I didn't follow their pages to get caught up in the drama, I followed for the content. Personal attacks need to stop because all it achieves is upsetting your audience who have followed you because they like your content. I know I have enough drama in my own life to worry about someone else's. I have scaled things right back in terms of involvement in social media and while I am there, I don't participate as much as I used to. If I am not commenting or liking posts etc, it doesn't mean I don't support you, I find other ways to do this that don't mess with my mental health. I have found a balance that keeps me relatively happy and I think you have to do what is best for you. What you do and what someone else does is going to be different. People will do things you don't agree with. If you make a big deal about it, you know what happens? It pushes them further. Just like when someone says something to you, it makes you strive to go harder and further. So you can either get upset about it or you can focus on what you do and do it well.
Human nature is one of those ugly beasts. I always say we kind of tend to think that the paranormal field is immune to it or that these kinds of drama only happen in the paranormal community but it is everywhere. Until we as humans find a way to co-exist against hate, it will always be here in some way shape or form, so we just have to make the best of it! If you love what you do, find a balance and find a way to express yourself and focus on those positives because there are so many there. That pesky human nature always has us looking at a half-empty glass, but I promise you, it is half full!
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