This may seem like an odd post considering APs is so centric in research and data collecting. But, hear me out. Right now, we live in a society where we are always looking down on our phones or watching the world through a computer. That has translated into how we investigate the paranormal.

While I was attending the Excavation of Victorian Ghosts event up in Bedford, Pennsylvania, one of the speakers was Rosemary Ellen Guiley. I know we keep talking about this event, but it was truly a great event where some really intelligent minds from the field come in and present their research and theories. Anyway, Rosemary had a fascinating talk on black mirrors and scrying, and she made a really interesting comment. Of course, I’ll be paraphrasing; the gist of it was that it seems that teams that are tech-heavy tend to not have as many experiences as someone who isn’t looking at a screen. At first, I guffawed because I believed that the central point of investigating is to have the equipment for data collection. However, as I sat and listened to Rosemary speak, I started to ponder my previous experiences.

Most know that one of the most dramatic experiences I had involved a camera that was turned off. This would be the event that happened on the USS Hornet in 2012. Yet, no matter how many times I recollect the experience and retell the story, I know there are people who won’t believe me. I kick myself thinking about how our equipment was shut off, even though we don’t remember turning anything off. However, that experience gave me something that I needed at the time. Looking back, I think that experience was just meant to be that…an experience. Had the equipment not malfunctioned, I really wonder what would have been captured on film and audio. Furthermore, what would MY experience have been like if I was monitoring through headphones or looking through a viewfinder? Would I have seen the same thing?

Take, for example, the experience of a photographer. They will experience something like a wedding or childbirth through a completely different experience. They are behind a piece of equipment. They see things through a tunnel, meant to capture images and video in a certain way. For the paranormal investigator, they are trying to reach the widest scope possible so that they don’t miss a moment. However, data collection still requires monitoring…therefore compromising the person’s experience. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Proper data collection is crucial if we’re going to make any strides in the field.

Yet, we need to acknowledge that when we’re taking pictures, taking video, or listening through audio equipment, our experience will be different than those who aren’t fixed on their equipment. How many times do we allow a piece of equipment dictate the course of an investigation? By this, I mean equipment like the Ovilus, shack hacks, etc.? What if we’re being led astray and missing out on the incredible anomaly that’s happening right before our eyes?

So, how do we implement a compromise into a meaningful experience? Do we ask someone to bow out of having the “full” experience for the sake of data collection? I believe that we can still have an experience while collecting data. But first, we have to know why we’re collecting data. Are we trying to provide proof of the paranormal? Do we just want to remember the experience? Do we want material for our YouTube channel? By knowing this, we can really figure out why we’re lugging all of this equipment in the first place. From there, we can work on implementing a compromise that includes thorough and effective data collection while having that “experience.”

To me, there are grey areas. I believe that we need to be persistent in data collection. Also, I believe there are moments where we don’t have to always look at a screen, and we can just experience the unknown.

Yet, that’s what tripods and stands are for. There are happy mediums, no pun intended. We can take a break from watching through a screen and look up occasionally.