Friday, June 11, 2010

And you are NOT it!

When it comes to finding yourself interested or maybe just curious about ghosts and the strange things that lurk in darkened corners, you just might find yourself among several others poking at the same dead corpse. But really, how far are you willing to go in pursuing your curiosity? Are you just going to stand around and gawk? Maybe you’re one of those who want to touch it and see what oozes or you may be one of the rare others who really like to get down and dirty and flip it over to see what’s going on below the surface. For each person, we find their personal interest can vary from the extreme to the shrug of ones shoulders followed by the faint “Hmm”. It’s the heightened level of interest that really makes the ideal investigator.

I find there are three elements that identify someone who qualifies as a true investigator. That is PASSION, PATIENCE, and DEVOTION, or PPD. Each one of these represents the level of work you are willing to commit to in pursuing the truth to this ever-expanding, bizarre field.

Now, when you stand in front of the mirror and look close at that person staring back, ask yourself, “What drives me? Why do I want to know? What am I going to do with the knowledge that I gain?” We all have our own interest in pursuing the many different things that make us go “hmmm”, but it’s the level of PPD that helps us decide how far we are willing to dive into the gooey mess.

Once you have figured out what you are willing to do, now look at the others that want to be a part of the same autopsy that has peaked your interest. How do you develop the perfect team? Here’s where things can become a little more complicated. With eagerness, folks gather together and line up to venture off into the unknown. You can’t help but wonder, who are these people and what are they freaking doing here? With so many of people you’ll find a wide range of diversity which results in a myriad of goals and styles within ghost hunting groups. This diversity can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It really depends on how well you all play together.

Right now, with the popularity of ghost hunting TV shows, we are finding groups that exist only to imitate their television idols. Take for instance “Ghost Adventures.” Here’s a show whose premise is to film a group of testosterone-filled guys getting off by provoking the spirits. Throughout the show they cuss and make demands for the ghosts to prove themselves. Now it’s completely up to you if you so choose to put yourself in that dangerous situation -- remember, these guys are at least getting a paycheck and their 15 minutes of fame to show for their bad judgement. Don’t come calling me, though, when Mr. Dark Entity gets fed up with you and decides to kick your ass every night.

With so many fly-by-night groups running around in fearless mode, more and more popular haunted sites are not willing to give the serious investigators a chance. Why? Because these quickly-formed paranormal clubs are being disrespectful while investigating their homes or place of business. Remember folks, TV is a form of entertainment, not schooling.

The diversity in membership is so vast that within one group you may find that the entertainment value outweighs the passion for the truth; the social aspect has more appeal than the required work load; the thrills dominate the patience or the drama defeats the devotion. It all stems from the organizer(s) driving the force and focus of the group. You can easily spend years running a not for profit organization, only to find you wasted your time entertaining the members and not focusing on the real work needed. If people are not willing to put forth the effort in pursuing the truth, which involves consistent record keeping, reporting and discussion, then do we really need them out there ghost hunting?

Still willing to take on the task of developing a focused, fact-based paranormal investigation group? Then keep in mind that EVERY group (even mine) has their own set of problems. This can be lack of communication, people not turning in reports, people not reviewing their evidence or maybe it’s lack of support. When running a volunteer group you always have to be willing and able to ride the wave of ups and downs. There will be times when things run smoothly, but you find that every once in awhile someone on the team drops the ball and you’re back to square one.

So when developing your team of righteous ghost members you may have to consider a few things, just to keep your own sanity:
It’s perfectly OK to screen your future members. Find people who work good with you.
Make sure they know what they are getting into .
How much time can they devote to this?
How much do they really know and are they willing to learn more?
What are their limitations?
What can they offer the ghost hunting community?
Can they fill out a report?
Are they willing to step up when things get tough?
Are they willing to be a part of the team and not grandstand during investigations?
Are they a drama queen? (GOD help us all)

Depending on the work load for the group, one member should be willing to offer at least 15 hrs a month. That should include your groups meeting time, two investigations, review and documentation time. So take your time in getting to know the folks you might be working with. If they’re not right for you, there just might be a group out there that’s right for them. New members showing enthusiasm is good, but take the time to find out if they are in it for the long haul or just wanting a weekend hobby that lets them get out of the house once in a while? That lack of commitment is very contagious in volunteer groups. As the old saying goes, “one bad apple can spoil the whole batch,” and that is so true.