Use Your Words, Dude

Today I want to talk about our Words and specificity.

Some people think it’s nerdy to be concerned about word choice or specifics. To which I say it’s everything, and fascinating, and incredibly important.

This vlog will be simple today. Only two parts.

For the first part, I want to examine the importance of being specific in your questions on a ghost hunt. Let’s take a listen again to the interaction we had with the spirit of Lucy through a cell sensor April of two years ago. In this example, we have the instance of my asking Lucy the question:

“Do some spirits feel negative energy?”

Lucy responds without an answer, indicative of a “no” response. But her answer is immediately ambiguous in the yes/no situation. Is this true that no other spirits feel negative energy? Or, I wonder, quickly adjusting my question,

“Do you KNOW if some spirits feel different energies?”

Her response is again no. So to fully clarify, I ask;

“So you don’t know?” And she then responds with a yes.

But even here in this example, there’s loads and loads of questions and clarifications I didn’t ask, that I didn’t realize at the time, being younger and put on the spot. We’d been asking Lucy about feeling our “positive energies” and then opposed them to whether she feels (or, sometimes, as we accidentally used interchangeably, “draws from”) negative energies.

See the obvious problem here? She might have understood what we meant, discussing the positive attitudes and excitement of the group, versus the negative energy put off by grumpy people. But especially when asking even pseudo-scientific interview questions, we start talking about “positive energies” and that could mean something completely different to her, or say, a scientist. Some scientists theorize that ions may contribute to paranormal phenomena, or be a factor in the manifestation. Ions are charged particles. What’s interesting is that an excessive amount of positively charged ions in the air make people feel bad. And, inversely, excessive negatively charged particles make you feel good. (This is where you get those “Ionic breeze home air filters” on infomercials. They charge the particles negatively so that your room feels better.) Some think then, that as a byproduct or condition of the spirit’s manifestation, positive ions may contribute, and may also explain the heavy, more negative feelings associated with even benevolent hauntings.

So as we sit asking about Lucy only drawing from “positive energies,” who’s to say she wasn’t referring to ionic charge, not attitudes?

You can understand how quickly, from even this one example, what seems like a simple question can be loaded, and especially difficult for a spirit to answer with just a yes or a no.

Look at the simple difference between the questions “Can you do something?” and “Do you do something?” One speaks to potential, the other speaks to whether it actually happens. How easy would it be to ask Lucy if she can interact with the other spirits, then begin to tell the story that Lucy does interact with the spirits. There’s a jump in the facts here. Perhaps she can but doesn’t.

What I find interesting about this forms the second part of the vlog today, and that applies to real life applications of thinking about our words.

For example, I have a tattoo on my forearm of a Jack o’ lantern. Some people would say specifically that I have an “evil Jack o’ lantern” tattooed on my arm. I’d say I have a scary looking Jack o’ lantern. Now this isn’t an issue of semantics. My tattoo is supposed to be scary. And specifically so.

IMG_2413

In fact, I got it partially because of this idea that Jack o’ lanterns were meant to scare off evil or negative spirits. So to say that my tattoo is itself an evil Jack o’ lantern is not only inaccurate, but also contradictive to it’s very purpose in a MEANINGFUL way. Having an evil Jack o’ lantern would make my ink a part of that evil rather than combating against it.

If you think about it, we see a lot of things that way. Many of us see things that are scary as inherently evil.

And I think that making that distinction between scary and evil is a very important distinction. One that horror aficionados, for example, have made for a long time. But one that a fair amount of the general public have been ignorant of. They often act under the assumption that for one: scary things are evil. And then leap to two, if you like scary things, you’re interacting with things that are evil or are romanticizing the evil.

This opens doors to different conversations, but what I want to stress is the importance of the distinction.

So I urge you to continue to make distinctions. To study those binaries we tend to group. Not just within the paranormal and the questions we ask, but with ANY distinction. In politics, in literature, in music. In social interaction. Because it’s important to clarify what you mean, what society means, and where you stand.

If you liked this vlog, feel free to check out the earlier episodes here, subscribe, and give that like button a click.

Karl Pfeiffer is a writer, ghost hunter, and blogger/vlogger. He won the first season of the pilot reality series Ghost Hunters Academy, and went on to work with the Ghost Hunters International team on the same network. Since then he’s lead the weekend ghost hunts at the Stanley Hotel, studied religion and writing at Colorado State University, and published his first novel, Hallowtide, in October of 2012. More can be found at www.KarlPfeiffer.com

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4 thoughts on “Use Your Words, Dude

  1. Patrick says:

    You are really onto something with these last few vlogs. You have an amazing ability to communicate clearly! That is something that is probably lacking in the paranormal field, in genera. I’m a bit jealous, since I sometimes have issues “using my words”. 🙂 Keep them coming!

  2. […] want to go ahead and piggy-back off that last blog with this blog. In the last vlog we talked about deconstructing and dividing these ideas between […]

  3. Nicola Kirk says:

    I’m really enjoying these Vlogs – they’re good fun to watch and you choose intriguing topics too.

    Regards.

    Nicola

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