I, Myself and a Team: Monsters Among Us
Surrounding yourself with the right paranormal people can be the game changer for your entire investigative career, if you let it.
There's a lot to be said about who you're surrounded by when it comes to the paranormal. Most investigators are surrounded by team members, or whatever the core group they're with considers themselves. A society, a crew, a group, even the pseudo-formal "association" in the title, it really makes no difference. That's your posse of ghost hunters, and those are the people that make or break what you do in the dark. There's an intricate balance of personalities and duties that seems to be present in most groups I've come across or been a part of, since my first foray into this weirdness around 2004.
MY HISTORY (JUST THE SPOOKY SHIT): 2004 seems like 2,394 years ago, but since it's actually only 15 years, and I was around 21 years old, it's the legit first time I ever "investigated". I had a digital recorder (no USB port, just standalone recording and playback, (MUCH LIKE THAT $2000 PANASONIC DR60 TRENDING ON PARANORMAL EBAY RN. Ugh. Why didn't I save it?? I could have SOLD IT *or used it* 😭😭😭), and my friends. Literally, that's it. I don't know if you, reading this, were alive and conscious in the early 2000's but no one had cell phones worth a shit, let alone worth more than a 3 megapixel photo. If we had something to whip out and record video with then, we would have (I would have, annoyingly). Alas, we're lucky we had the recorder we did, and while we didn't get any EVPs or strange, unaccountable sounds on the recordings, we did it. That was the start.
From there, I finished college, attended university overseas in Scotland, and investigated the underground Edinburgh Vaults about a year before Ghost Adventures made their way there as well. Thing is, at that point in my Masters' studies, GA wasn't yet airing in the UK, and I didn't even know they existed until I'd finished school and found some episodes online in 2009. That said, I'd pretty much gone in and out of actively investigating until being on a team for 4 years in the 20-teens. It was a trip. When I decided I'd had enough of being on a team, I took a year or so off from the creepy stuff, and tried a few different video making styles including a short venture in personal vlogging (sorry, those videos are now deleted. Forever). It was January 2017 that the paranormal crept back up on me.
FULL DARK'S UNEXPECTED BIRTH (THE FIRST EVP):
I didn't sit down one day that January 2 years ago to MAKE a paranormal team. I sat down to listen back to recordings from a 2014 week on the Gulf Coast. I'd recorded my walk-through on a supposedly haunted battleship, the SS Alabama, docked at the coast near Mobile. I wanted to know if I'd gotten something after all, and completely forgot that myself and my friend who were on the tour had a weird paranormal experience there. As we were walking around the corridors of the ship, my friend heard a woman say something out loud. I did not, but the recorder was running, and sure enough, it had captured the entire exchange. He and I were alone on the ship, the tour was a self-guided walk-round. I knew what I had was authentic. I was stunned listening back. Stunned I'd come home 2 years ago and hadn't given that experience another thought, stunned the voice was indeed right there on the recording, audible and discernable.
That moment was somewhat of the deciding factor for me. I had something I'd found, on my own, without any team or really any prep work besides my own experience and a digital recorder. It vaulted me into the mindset of CREATION, and within that week, using a free video software program on a cheap laptop, I made the first EVP video for Full Dark Productions, and had set up this very website and accompanying social media accounts. I went about creating a film company, I suppose. I very purposely chose to leave the words "paranormal" "ghost" "haunt" "spirit" or anything else etymologically related out of the name. I don't like being boxed in; I have a wee sense of claustrophobia I believe I inherited from my dad, and I didn't want to be confined to the tropes and stereotypes of every other paranormal team. The word "dark" gives it just enough of a "wtf is this weird shit" to give us access to other aspects of a more macabre nature. The entire Occult? The Paranormal? Cryptids? Unsolved cases? Mysterious legends? It's all open to explore through the art of multimedia presentation by leaving the DAMN GHOST SHIT out of the name.
WHAT I DID WRONG (ON ACCIDENT):
I'd remembered a few people from the vast social media sphere of the paranormal who I'd interacted with several years prior to 2017. I looked them up, hoping to reconnect and stay abreast of so much of the fakery and pseudoscience that teams/investigators tend to generate. The innocent exaggeration of memory is one thing, but to create an entire paranormal experience out of nothing or change the facts entirely is totally different, and totally something I stood against, and still stand against, as Full Dark. I spoke to several self-proclaimed "debunkers", and those who seemed to enjoy picking fights on the internet for the sake of...what? Fighting? Just arguing with people to disagree and create unrest or ill will? Chaos-makers. Bulls in the China cabinets of cyberspace.
That did me zero favors! I love to play devil's advocate, I come from a place of critical thought and logic before hyperbole and rhetoric, but I am not a bully. I don't think I've ever had it in me to cause someone true pain, whether it be on the internet or be in real life. Spiteful? Sure. Vengeful? Nah. Not my style, and not worth living a life of constant misery or misdirected angst. (My angst now is aimed at climate crisis and carbon emissions, lack of resources, and planetary-level human suffering. I mean, get a bigger perspective, make your anger at least count toward goodness and helpful change.) However friendly these fellow online investigators were to me, they were ruthless in their attacks on others, warranted by seemingly ignorant or ill-informed statements or not. I slowly began to realize I was not in a place of support from these other investigators who were hell-bent on paranormal destruction. I'd in fact aligned myself with the wrong team, basically.
THE TURNAROUND (SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN LINEUP):
I always thought I was a semi-good judge of character. Not the best, maybe, but at least not attracting droves of serial killers or something. Well, wrong is something I can admit I was. And, boy howdy, I was wrong. Those teams and individuals were not supportive of my work, or truly trying to find and share anything of significance in the paranormal. They were monsters who wanted nothing more than someone else on their side of a never ending argument. Here's the thing: being against everything doesn't allow you to be for anything. You're stuck. You're sinking. It closes the mind and leaves no room for all the good things the paranormal can provide: the most significantly, actually fucked-up, incredible, astounding, unexplainable experiences we CRAVE and STRIVE for as authentic investigators, as real n' dirty home grown ghost hunters. (Again, call yourself a paranormal pineapple, IDGAF, it's WORDS.) . I swear on everything freaking important to me, I did not experience as much paranormal activity as I *could* have, for nearly all of 2017. And Full Dark was LIT in it's first year of existence. We went overseas ASAP and have kept up the insane investigation pace from there. (Because it GIVES US LIFE.🤩)
The biggest change to FDP was the unlikely yet timely meeting of myself and Ryan. With his move from Wisconsin to New York, he became the true other half of not just FDP but my life as well. His perspective on the paranormal and the people we'd associated with was eye-opening (cuz I'm like a 4/10 on good judgement of other humans apparently, alas, my heart is big and flayed open to all I suppose). His intelligence, his logic, and his insight compliment mine, and together we've forged a new path (or several) for Full Dark's future.
SO WHERE WERE THE GHOSTS? (GHOSTED👻):
I have a really solid proficiency at dropping someone out of my life when I realize fully how shitty they are. I may give them fair second and third chances, but the ultimatum stays solid when they're knocked off the line for a final time. So that's what I did, I separated myself from the argumentative, bullying and talons-out ridiculousness that sweeps the paranormal internet like a plague. I stopped caring, I suppose, about trying to force people to think smarter and harder about the weird things we experience in the dark. I just wanted to experience them for myself. I also don't like fighting, and doing so on the internet is petty af, Becky. Knock if off. There's no point to be made on the internet if it's not glaringly obvious already, the hive-mind mentality doesn't budge easily.
In that way, I turned to the art and the videos Full Dark was making as the sure and primary means to convey our meaning, not just our investigations as they were filmed. This blog too, serves as a means of my own conveyance. I have evolved with Full Dark during the years we've been hustling, and I've evolved both through and because of, the different previous periods of my life as an investigator as well. (The amount of times I've changed my mind about things in the paranormal and what I believe and don't believe is FAST AND FURIOUS, and NORMAL. 🤪) It's those changes and reassessments and restructuring of my own wants and desires and goals that keeps me breathing life into FDP and the projects we undertake. It keeps me vital. Contented. Relevant to those who love me, not just the numbers of people who subscribe to or follow us on any social media platform.
ALL THE RIGHT PEOPLE (ALL THE RIGHT PLACES):
Like begets like, right? It's that whole "think it and it will manifest" mindset, The Secret, the whatever-you-want-it-to-be idea that sending out something returns it back to you, energetically or mindfully. I have a hard time buying any of that, (😮but a What I Believe blog is for another day), but I know that being a kind, supportive and interested person, draws in those with similar motivations. Honesty begets honesty, because liars always fall back on each other to hold up their shaky foundations. My brain builds, shreds and rebuilds my beliefs, memories, and understanding of the paranormal as I keep learning and keep progressing forward in experience. I'd hope for everyone to have ever-changing, ever-growing ruminations of the world's great mysteries. However, in the paranormal, rigid beliefs and echo chamber dogma ends up having a hold on many people. I think I ended up wanting to stop fighting that. I wanted to grow and question with people who also wanted to grow and keep questioning. I've found more honest investigators in small pairs and single individuals than I have teams recently. Most of them are in fact Youtubers. They make videos of and about the paranormal because they truly love the subject matter, and truly love to try to experience the strange and unusual.
I joined Youtube 3 months into Full Dark's existence after hosting all our videos on the non-community based platform Vimeo. I realized by those 3 months that I wanted the community aspect. It's too much a part of the paranormal to ignore or shy away from. It's the vetting of the monsters and the avoidance of the Worst People Out There that just remains a part of vigilant internet awareness. The monsters are teams or people who live to tear others down, and don't provide any support to fellow colleagues in the same supernatural ventures. Now, at 2 and a half years into Full Dark's existence in the world, (🙌🏻), we're in the business of building others up, and spending as much time as possible doing the best work we can to convey what we intend through our art.
Our experiences have never been exaggerated, and we've never falsified anything we've done. There's just no point! A combined effort on behalf of myself and Ryan (you can call us Full Dark Amy and Full Dark Ryan, we have such generic names), gives us twice the creative resources and willingness to to investigate the strange and unusual, and present it to the world in different multimedia forms. There's just no room for shitty people. They're done, they're cancelled. We've evolved beyond the crap-weirdos who hurt us and have come into several new communities of refreshingly honest and supportive people, teams and individuals, youtubers and internet-shunners alike. That form of community is an absolutely necessary and vital part of being in the paranormal field. Surrounding yourself with the right people is the way to not just survive, but to thrive as an investigator, filmmaker, or creator in all things supernatural.
Thanks for reading,