Singular Cerebrations: Investigating in the Age of the Internet
There was a time when I honestly believed that many of my peers weren't aware of the myriad online communities surrounding paranormal subjects. I assumed that I must be more Internet savvy; more technologically intelligent. But I was wrong. They simply knew better than I. The Internet can be a sickening, toxic place, and they had abandoned its more psychologically uninhabitable environments before I had even entered the game. As it turns out, paranormal investigators don't like being berated by strangers any more than anyone else does; and even those sites that provide anonymity to their members provide little solace for investigators, who often live by their credibility and cannot afford to hide their identity.
I know I certainly haven't enjoyed it. I've been accused of hoaxing, had my credibility and qualifications questioned, and basically been harassed for having the audacity to begin a conversation about the paranormal--and not by skeptics or debunkers. There is a real and unfortunate disconnect between the armchair investigators sitting behind their screens and criticizing everything they read, and the researchers out in the field trying to make sense of the impossible. The illusion appears to be that we're somehow all making piles of money doing this. I can't believe how many times I've had to explain that this website actually costs us money to run. Personally, I blame the advent of paranormal reality television, and the idea that everyone on TV must be rich. There are easier ways to get rich than by being a weirdo, and if that was my goal I would have went to business school.
But it's not all bad. I found out quickly enough which online communities have an honest interest in the unusual, and which are populated by those with the crab-in-a-bucket mentality of wanting to tear everyone down around them. And to be completely honest, I've met some wonderful people online (I'm looking at you, r/humanoidencounters). At its best, the Internet provides us with ways to research that would have been impossible even a decade or two ago. Crowd sourcing photograph and video examination, for instance, has led to invaluable insights that I don't think we would have achieved without the ability to recruit thousands of people to help review the evidence.
The significant success I've seen with certain Internet communities gives me enough hope to continue my efforts at outreach, but for the sake of my sanity I'll be learning how to unplug--at least occasionally.
Yours in Impossibility,