by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground Magazine
Watch out, folks. There’s a new breed in town and they’re called para-jerks. Nope – I’m not talking about a new class of paranormal evidence like jacket tugs. I’m also not talking about ghosts, cryptids or aliens with attitude problems. Instead, I’m talking about those groups and individuals in the paranormal field who feel as if they must cast aspersions on everyone who is not them.
I spend a lot of my time meeting paranormal investigators from various groups and I’ve got to tell you – most of you are amazing people. Kind, open, friendly and passionate about what you do. You’re all eager to share your methodologies, hear what other people do, share stories and experiences, share evidence – all of it. Some of you are even screamingly funny – and there is a special place in my heart for people who can make me laugh so hard that I cry. Or wet myself. Perhaps I’ve shared too much…
What I’m trying to say to many, many, many of you wonderful paranormal investigators that I’ve met is this: I love you man! While I may not always agree with your theories and methods, while you may not always agree with mine, you are the salt of the earth – people after my own heart who have a passion for what it is that you do and a willingness to share it with a rather chunky paranormal reporter/neophyte investigator who never lost a three-year-old’s propensity for asking questions. You all have taught me so much by sharing your world with me, and I am eternally grateful.
Alas, this is not the feel good blog of the year. I’d love to end it there and I probably should, but I think I’ve got a little something to say.
There’s another type out there who I’ve deemed the para-jerks. Okay – that’s not quite true. In my head, the language is a little bit harsher, but this is a family website. These are the groups who seem to lack the confidence to stand on their own theories, beliefs, methods and accomplishments. Instead, in a rather misdirected attempt to make themselves look better, they spend a great deal of time slamming other groups and individuals. They do it on their websites. They do it in their investigations. They tell anyone who will listen how much everyone else sucks.
Hey – I understand marketing. I am a former marketing guru who spent nearly 20 years marketing people’s stuff. It’s perfectly okay to highlight what makes your group special and unique. It’s perfectly okay to show how great you are. It’s even okay to distinguish yourself from the pack. That’s marketing. But when your efforts to this end start to resemble political attack ads, then maybe, just maybe you might want to tone it down a little.
*Cue spooky music and snarkastic (it’s a word I made up combining snarky and sarcastic – like it??) man’s voice:*
Paranormal Donkeys of Upper Chicago End (Para-DoUChE) believe they saw a ghost. They think they’ve captured EVPS. But what Para-DoUChE didn’t tell you is that they once used a Ouija board. Can you trust a group with members that played with Ouija boards when they were 13? Are these the people that you want in your homes interacting with your ghosts? Come on, Para-DoUChE, surely you can do better than that.
*spoken quickly* Paid for by Citizens for Paranormal Association of South Southampton (Para-ASS).
I kid the para-jerks. Sort of.
Here’s the deal, folks. When we turn to petty infighting, when we slam others in the field in a misguided attempt to make ourselves look better, when we talk about how much everyone else sucks because they are not us, it diminishes all of us. And I’m not just talking about the people you are slamming. It diminishes you, as well. It diminishes the field as a whole and makes the entire paranormal community look like a bunch of squirrelly, mean-spirited a-pipes who can’t get our crap together. To outsiders, it looks like a train wreck – a paranormal version of the Jerry Springer show. Since a true passion for the paranormal is already considered a rather fringe belief anyway, is this the impression that we want to make on the world? That we’re all a bunch of backstabbing jerks? Let’s leave that to the politicians.
I get that I’m starting to sound a little negative here, so I have a challenge for everyone. Take a look at the information you’re putting out there into the world. Take a look at ALL of your communications. Your websites, your literature, your blogs, your tweets, your Facebook status updates, the way that you communicate about other groups when you are out in the world representing not only yourselves, but the paranormal community at large. Now ask yourself this: Are we talking ourselves up, or are we putting others down? The two are not necessarily conjoined twins. It’s very possible to share how terrific you are without ever once mentioning how much the other guys suck. And in doing so, you’ll be doing yourself and everyone else in the paranormal community a huge favor.
Paranormal research isn’t a competition. It is different things for different people: a hobby, a personal journey, a passion, a means of exploring the universe, a way to alleviate fears, a way to explore the unknown, a thrill ride. There are as many reasons for exploring the paranormal as their are people who explore it. I know because I’ve asked almost everyone I’ve met in this field why it is that they do what they do. I’ve never gotten the same answer twice. So whatever it is to you, it’s all good – but here’s what it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be a mean-spirited way to make yourself look better than everyone else. It doesn’t have to be the Springer-esque cat fight that diminishes everyone.
Take a step back. Look around. Are you contributing to progress, or are you contributing to drama? If the answer is drama, is that why you wanted to get into paranormal research in the first place? If it is, then carry on. If it isn’t, then you just might want to find a way to reconnect with that initial passion without the drama.
Here’s something that I love about the universe. There’s only one thing that we can control in this world, and it isn’t the other guy. So if we can’t control the other guy, why worry so much about what it is he’s doing? Instead, why not share your passion with the world? Let your light shine – because there is no doubt that there is something about you that is unique and amazing. In the end, the entire community (you included) will be better off for it.