Be careful what you wish for.
There was a time that I was a vocal supporter of our favorite esoteric
subjects. I would tell co-workers all about Alex Jones' Bohemian Grove
infiltration or the details about the latest UFO flaps across the country.
It wasn't enough that I found these topics interesting, I felt a
desire--nay, a need--to get others interested in them as well. A
great disservice was being perpetrated, I reasoned, if I allowed these
important events to go unexamined by the mainstream.
That was the old me. The new me wants to keep it all to myself. Like the
selfish cabals of Los Illuminati that I once spoke out against, I want to
keep the esoteric exactly that...esoteric.
You may be wondering what brought about this recent change of attitude. For
an answer, I point to the "Half Life" prank call-in to George Noory's Coast
to Coast AM radio show. First posted on YouTube on Saturday, January 19th,
the four minute segment featured a sly prankster describing to George the
plot of the popular PC game Half-Life and passing it off as real.
Obviously not familiar the game's existence, George listened with an almost
excited enthusiasm. At the call's conclusion, George went so far as to make
a joke about the story reminding him of the plot of the movie Contact,
blissfully unaware of what had just transpired.
If you haven't listened yet, the YouTube page can be found
The call got me thinking about several things. First of all, I couldn't help
but feel sorry and embarrassed for George. He has received a reputation of
being somewhat out of sync with popular culture, but you can't blame him for
not knowing the plot details of a 10 year old PC game.
What fascinated me, however, was just how many in the Internet culture are
aware of Coast to Coast AM. The YouTube posting alone (the audio has since
been posted on several different websites) had over 200,000 views and 730
comments at the time I wrote this. Of these comments, very few users were
asking about details regarding the show. Much to my surprise, a great many
users were well aware of the show, and many of their comments praised the
merits of Coast and supported George. Unfortunately, a large number of users
also voiced negative opinions about George and/or labeled the broadcast a
showcase for crackpottery.
Scrolling through the comments was like reading any given Coast to Coast AM
fan-made message board. Here I was, on YouTube of all places, reading the
usual Noory bashing and Art Bell praising talking points I thought were
limited to a relatively small group of in-the-know dedicated Coast
Of the 7 million per night listener statistic that George likes to throw
around, I'm going to assume the majority are nerds sitting around their
computers or radios and either a) genuinely following the interviews; or b)
listening for the purpose of laughing at the absurdity of them. I won't say
the latter is always necessarily a bad thing--I find myself doing it from
time to time--but my fear is that as these esoteric topics become
increasingly widespread, they will be increasingly trivialized by the
mainstream. I fear that somehow being a paranormal enthusiast will no longer
be something special.
Let me use an example of this in the video game world. For years, video
gaming was the hobby of the social outcast. It was a hobby viewed by the
mainstream as childish and enjoyed best in dank basements by pasty white
kids. Over the past two generations of video game consoles--starting with
the massive success of Sony's Playstation 2 and continuing with World of
Warcraft and Nintendo's popular Wii--video gaming is rapidly turning
into an acceptable entertainment source on par with television and film.
Video gaming is now enjoyed by all genders and age groups. For years video
gamers have fought for social acceptance (not unlike Ufologist's quest for
serious consideration) and won. The prize for victory? A market flooded with
shovelware games lacking any sense of imagination, a new audience of
'casual' gamers craving reduction in game length and difficulty, and a new
wave of gamer-targeted marketing the likes of Spike TV's abominable Video
Game Awards show.
In gaining mainstream acceptance, the video gaming world is at risk of
losing everything that made it a worthy hobby in the first place.
Is this the fate in store for the esoteric? Or, considering the amount of
merchandising, trivializing, and mocking the esoteric has endured over the
past 50 years, maybe this fate has already been realized. Perhaps Coast to
Coast AM, with its mass market appeal, is the ultimate byproduct of social
acceptance. If so, where else can the esoteric go from here but back into