Social Media Influencers and the Paranormal, by Dr. Mark Farley
I have noticed a disturbing trend in the paranormal community. Recently, I have allowed two paranormal teams to investigate the Lemp Brewery Bottle Works. After four months of waiting, I still haven't received any sort of reveal. After making several attempts to contact them, the only response I have received was, "They haven't gotten around to reviewing their evidence yet." Not only is this unprofessional, but it is also negligent. The only reason clients allow us into their homes and businesses is to get answers. I would have understood if their investigation failed to capture anything of significance. However, having conducted an investigation, they are still obligated to compile a report detailing what they did. A location may not be haunted, but revealing to the client that you couldn't capture anything or discovered a plausible explanation behind a recurring event, may put the client's mind at ease. Investigators often fail to realize that what you don't find is just as important as what you do find.
Now, when I witness paranormal investigations, the investigators seem more worried about creating social media content than gathering evidence. They really didn't want to perform an actual paranormal investigation because, let's face it, investigations are a lot of work. It's much easier to create creepy content for TikTok and then claim it's an investigation.
Today, it seems members of the paranormal community want to be more influencer than investigator. In my opinion, this is a violation of trust. It was always the understanding between the investigator and the client that their investigation would be kept strictly confidential. Confidentiality was one of the hallmarks of our community. The so-called investigations performed by social media influencers are breaking this sacred oath. Because confidentiality doesn't get you likes and follows.
I've always said that the paranormal community misuses the term "skeptic." Because a true skeptic doesn't take a position, therefore doesn't have a bias. They have no opinion until something is proven. For me, the doctrine of debunking everything first, better known as paranormal skepticism, tainted investigations because it introduced a bias from the very onset. Under the currently accepted version of the scientific method, all experiments and investigations should be conducted without bias. A true skeptic approaches every investigation from a position of neutrality. Only after the investigation is over and the evidence reviewed can they conclude whether or not a place is haunted.
I have never agreed with the "debunker's" approach to investigating paranormal claims. Still, I have to admit they were trying to uphold the standards of integrity and accuracy. What does a social media influencer achieve by trying to uphold these standards? The answer is NOTHING. An influencer's goal is to garner as many likes and follows per video to build their audience. The bigger their audience, the more they can monetize their social media content. They don't want to investigate; they want to thrill-seek, and thrill-seekers are not worried about the truth; all they want are jump scares. They don't want to research and explain; all they are looking for is the creep factor.
This thrill-seeking mentality is hurting the paranormal community. For years, our community has tried to uphold the standard of performing scientific investigations. In my opinion, we are an emerging pseudo-science. "Pseudo" means there is still an element of belief in our field. Still, this element of belief did not stop us from striving for legitimacy. The social media influencer trend is quickly taking us away from our goal. Instead of trying to become an accepted field of scientific study, the influencer is relegating us to nothing more than entertainment.
I don't know how to combat this trend, and I'm NOT calling for boycotts, but as this trend continues, more and more people are getting a false perception of our community. The influencers' perpetual over-exaggeration of every bump and creak misconstrues public opinion and does nothing to aid in our quest for legitimacy. For the thrill-seeker, the adrenaline rush is everything. So everything has to be exaggerated because, let's face it, nobody wants to watch a video of you investigating a "mundane" haunting. In the era of social media, demons and danger get more clicks than investigating a friendly Casper.