The internet, a place full of information, misinformation, opinions and copied quotes. Its also a valuable resource and vital way to communicate in todays age.
A place where the unexplained has quite a curiously shaped foothold. Firm holding of different views and approaches. With plenty of pages, sharing thoughts and theories.
On appearance alone, a large percentage of paranormal related websites are usually focused around the theme of fears, lots of black, over use of gothic fonts, pictures of graveyards, churches etc. Is the unexplained really about Halloween?
There is a number of “hub-sites” full of reposts from news and stories across the general media, with little or no original content. These hub-sites are quite popular with posts, comments and discussion. Across forums and newsgroups there are some discussion oriented sites with paranormal related content. The flucuating active membership of such sites has waned in recent years as discussion has moved into the social networking sphere.
It is impossible mentioning the internet without talking about social networks. Social networking platforms and indeed blogging really have connected a vast number of people. Sharing stories, images and video quicker between one another faster than ever! Whilst this has done wonders for interconnectivity and discussion, the effect on the quality of information is noticeable.
Drawing attention to a recent online video seminar with professor of evolutionary biology Mark Pagel, titled ‘Infinite Stupidity’. the idea that social networks are ultimately devaluing knowledge and that the internet used in this way has signaled a ‘cut and paste’ culture with innovative and original material being overlooked. Where pictures and data are flicked through, quickly forgotten about just to get to the next thing. With so much information out there, it is likely we may be missing a vast amount of quality as we are being bombarded in waves of drivel and why it is that the same topics are recycled over and over. The ability of how a single message or image reaching an audience of not just tens or hundreds, but thousands potentially even millions in an easy effortless way is undeniable.
Video blogging and production is relatively easy to produce. Even TV style quality is not so hard to achieve. Dedicated groups have taken it upon themselves to develop paranormal programming. Setting up cameras in homes and reputed locations to be viewed online is simple. People recording strange phenomena to show the world. Not to mention the flip side creating “false” or set up events to trick and to entertain. The internet has become a broadcasting medium like no other.
Having an online presence where people can contact you and/or your organization is brilliant. Having a website that panders to the stereotype perpetuates the impression that it is no more serious than Scooby Doo. “Jinkies”! Despite the contrast that there is indeed academic interest, journal papers and brilliant research that are being published, which have supporting evidence to the claims of what is presently considered to be in the realm of the unexplained. Many which are warranting of further study. We just aren’t helping ourselves by maintaining this halloween illusion.
What must not be forgotten here is that there are different aims and focuses for individuals, groups, organizations and events companies. Some are preferring the methodological, ethical and sensible approach to the paranormal, others are simply events companies, so the icons of animated ghosts, witches and spooky sounds sells the stereotype to the thrill seeking audience. That is not to say, some of the people behind the events companies do not conduct research or do not inspire people on events to take a more grounded approach.
One aspect that is apparent sitting back in the mind of a Joe Bloggs-layperson reporting a strange event or experience it is not readily clear where and who you inform. Similarly if you do will you be taken at your word, criticized or have you treated like a loon.
There has been a push for more resource oriented sites and structured databases. For information can be readily accessed by anyone. Great examples would Mysterious Britain and Ireland, ASSAP, Society of Psychical Research and the Barnum Project. Which produce material as well connect and link to wide variety on published material, ongoing projects and quality research.
A must for all levels of interest in the paranormal.
There are locations on the web that are beacons of sense, advocating education and good practice.