I recently read an article published on the Telegraph Newspaper website that discussed the possibility of an increase in ghostly sightings during COVID. It caught my interest immediately as when we talk about the paranormal, one thing that often comes up are the locations which appear to yield the most activity. Often dubbed, ‘Englands Most Haunted Pub’ or words to that effect, these locations go on to claim an abundance of activity which of course captures the interest of ghost hunters. However, this article was discussing an increase of paranormal experiences that individuals had come in contact with whilst they were home; in most circumstances I assume. An assumption made based on the simple fact that many of us the world over found ourselves restricted to the confines of our homes, with the global lockdown that COVID brought to our lives.
The article backed up these claims of increased activity by providing a number of ghost hunters, researchers and academics, both sceptical and believers; that had received increased numbers of contacts through their various channels. The subject of the paranormal was a talking point, a subject that was gaining interest and belief in an afterlife was once again gaining great popularity.
However, there is perhaps some psychology behind this increase that we can agree on in my opinion. It is believed that “magical thinking” which covers paranormal beliefs, superstitions and even conspiracy theories, are things that start to increase during times of great uncertainty. Especially as during these times people feel vulnerable and that their lives lack essential controls.
Add to this that many people became only a physical connection away from catching COVID, and that generated fear on multiple levels. Fear that if they had COVID their life could be at risk, as so many had died. Fear that even if they survived they would have to go through a period where they were truly isolated from society. Aspects that begin to provide us with a different perspective on our own mortality and also how we may fit within the communities we believe we belong to. Something that I know from personal experience that I went through myself. It was a strange time, where plans could change at a moments notice and people could quickly become angry if they thought you had put them and their families at risk from contracting COVID. In fact sometimes I thought that some people may have even used it as an excuse to distance themselves more so from others. I wonder if there are many reading this that distanced themselves from certain people during COVID and have still to reconnect with those people, probably because in reality they do not wish to reconnect.
Due to this isolation, ever changing set of rules, and fear; mental stress has been extremely high throughout the pandemic. Everything that has occurred has created an almost perfect storm of mental stresses and the one thing that adds to that is the time it has been going on, at times it felt never ending and for many the risks are still extremely high.
The unseen force of COVID threatened not only our way of life, but also our very mortality. And perhaps it is that which draws parallels with various elements relating to ghosts and hauntings. As many had the concept of their lives expiring very much on their minds on a regular basis, it is a simple step to begin to consider aspects of an afterlife.
Academic research shows that people that live within environments of high uncertainty or simply dangerous areas, perhaps consumed by war or perhaps the area itself is simply less hospitable; tend to have higher paranormal beliefs. It is these beliefs, be they paranormal afterlife driven or even religious in their form; help to reassure them and comfort them in their day to day lives.
Of course there are, as ever in this field, some rather simple explanations for some purported paranormal activity. For example, the extended lockdowns would leave people spending considerably longer than normal in their homes with little time away. This would then allow them to be able to familiarise themselves with various sounds in their homes, that previously were not heard by them. For some I am sure logic preserved their sanity and helped explain away these occurrences. For others, the sounds would take on sinister forms and they would believe they were dealing with a ghost or something else supernatural; when in reality it was probably just floorboard or staircase creaking. Interestingly, some would allow their beliefs to take control and present these explainable events as something paranormal. Of course, there may also be the odd report that relates to something that is actually paranormal, but when presented with so many explainable events, it becomes difficult to locate a truly paranormal event.
As we were stuck at home, our imaginations potentially misunderstanding simple noises in our homes; TV decided to jump on the band wagon and released more shows to help fuel that fire. Many of which poorly investigate and are mostly ghost hunting in the sense of urban exploring in various probable haunted locations. This increase in the drama based shows and also the reality TV shows too, provided more possibilities to think about as we started to question that odd creak at 9pm. The perfect storm simply grew.
Spending all this extra time alone without human contact could lead to sleep issues for many and even nightmares. This even included sleep paralysis for some. Such things as tiredness could lead to simple absent-mindedness which could easily be mistook for paranormal activity. Especially if you loose your car keys and discover them in the fridge for example; some may think that their keys were moved by unseen hands. Whilst in reality you probably just put them there by mistake.
Another aspect to all this, which I find particularly interesting is UFO sightings. US UFO sightings increased from around 1,000 in 2019 to nearly 7,200 in 2020. That is a huge increase right? The question then becomes, what do UFO’s have to do with the world being consumed by a pandemic. Surely, visiting planet Earth during a pandemic would be the worse time to visit? Conspiracy theorists, please add your comments below as I am sure you have plenty to say on this subject.
Personally, I feel that this is similar to the UFO sightings around Point Pleasant at the time of the Mothman sightings. As we are in times of uncertainty, high stress and oddity, some may seen ghosts, experience poltergeist activity; but others may see UFO’s or even little green men! How these things manifest could be dependant on our own beliefs.
The Pandemic has not been easy for any of us, for many have suffered great losses, whilst others have been very lucky. I count myself and my close family as those lucky ones. If the paranormal activity has increased in order to help comfort many of us or perhaps to provide us with a vision of a life beyond this, then I see little harm in that. Certainly various aspects of the paranormal have been there for many years to help those with their bereavement.
Has COVID increased the number of paranormal believers? I would say that it most certainly has, especially as many more people begin to question their mortality and wonder about an afterlife. The question is will this help us to understand more about the afterlife? I certainly hope so.
Please let me know if you feel your belief in the paranormal has changed since COVID? Do you believe in an afterlife now?