Alright. I’ll admit it…I become a little obsessed with all things spooky and eerie in October. I just can’t help myself. As a kid I anticipated Halloween with a excitement that almost rivaled Christmas…almost. I started planning my Halloween costume far earlier than necessary. I would beg my mom to let me put up the window clings (remember when those were the best decoration ever?) in September. And I would have a few trial runs of my Halloween makeup. It was my thing. But that’s because all through the year I loved spooky things and scary stories; Halloween just put it all out there.
So, this affinity has grown with me. The emergence of Ghost Hunters on the SciFi Channel (now spelled Syfy for some unknown reason) brought ghost stories and paranormal research into popular culture. Needless to say, I loved it. The show itself revolves around one paranormal investigation team out of Rhode Island. After airing for the first time in 2006, the show spawned a frenzy of other programs that investigated the paranormal, supernatural and freaky, leaving some to say “Why is this so popular all of a sudden?”
This interest in the supernatural and paranormal is nothing new, however. Humans have been interested in what they can’t explain since the beginning of time and one of those things has always been related to what awaits us after death. This was especially true in the nineteenth century. Scientific advances (causing many to question their religious beliefs) and the high death tolls of the Civil War in America caused many to seek proof of the existence of the soul. People visited mediums, sought out spirit photographers, held seances, and even consulted the planchette (precursor to the modern Ouija Board) to find out if people had souls and whether or not those of their dearly departed were resting peacefully. Famous individuals such as Mary Todd Lincoln and, in the early twentieth century, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle dabbled in the paranormal. Of course that’s not to say that everyone believed in these things and there were many frauds who took advantage of the bereaved and curious. But it was a popular phenomenon, one that slowly faded into the background and has, once again, surged to the front seat.
Today there are constantly commercials for new ghost shows. Syfy is still supreme ruler in this field, however, with several spinoffs of the original Ghost Hunters, as well as shows like Haunted Highway, Paranormal Witness, Ghost Mine, Haunted Collector, Destination Truth, and many more. Various museums, battlefields, cities, and historic locations promote ghost tours, haunted walks, and even interactive events where visitors can actually hunt for ghosts in the building. Maybe the visitors are true believers, maybe they are skeptics, or maybe they are just looking for a new kind of fun for an evening. Either way, there’s no denying the popularity of the paranormal in today’s culture.