Meta-Modernism and YouTube Ghost Hunters

Proving Demons is a forty year old ghost hunter who claims to have the largest paranormal urban exploration YouTube channel in the United Kingdom. His videos feature him sneaking into abandoned hospitals/schools/houses/whatever and pretending to talk to ghosts. He stands in the middle of a dilapidated room, dressed in black hoodie and JNCO jeans, and fiddles with a radio, slowly scanning through the frequencies. The crackles and pops in the spacing between stations combined with the snippets of human voices become entities, spiritual and demonic, with which to communicate. He turns to the camera, eyes wide, caught in the spotlight attached to his Sony Alpha 7 iii.

“No way,” he says. “No way,” he says again. “Did you hear that?”

His guest behind the camera whispers, “oh my God.”

But there was nothing to hear. It’s all make believe. It’s all pretend.

It would be easy to hate a man like this. Call him a con artist; bemoan the fact that he is tricking people into believing that he has powers to contact the dead. But it’s all a game and his viewers are in on it. Together they create a world in which the paranormal exists. Fans leave time stamps in the comments on his videos to direct people to where they have heard a knock, or seen a shadow, and which evidences the paranormal.

This is the world of meta-modern culture and art. In the meta-modern era, people want something in which to believe, they want something in which to have faith, and they want something which they cannot explain. Post-modernism encouraged a cynicism, a disbelief in everything. Post-modernism told us that nothing mattered, that science could explain everything, that we are insignificant parts of one cold, unfeeling whole. Now people want to believe that there is more to life than that. But once we have been made cynical, we cannot be naïve again. Unless we fake it. The people commenting, and liking, and subscribing aren’t idiots. They know that ghosts aren’t real. But for the duration of a video on YouTube they can pretend that they are and it feels good. It feels good to think that maybe there are still areas of life which science can’t explain. And so they pretend to believe in ghosts.

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