UFO Conjecture(s)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Social Media is Killing UFOs

A piece by Andrew Marantz [Unreality Star]in the September 16th , 2013 issue of the New Yorker [Page 32 ff.] deals with paranoid persons who think they are being filmed or taped (by external agents?) for worldwide distribution; that is, their lives are reality show fodder, just like Jim Carrey’s was in the movie, The Truman Show.

The paranoiac exigencies are sad, and the episodes are more common than one might expect.

And we all know persons (us included) who think life (and consciousness) might be part of a (internet) matrix – we all are part of an omnipresent computer game or program.

This brings me to a suggestion that UFO sightings and import have diminished significantly because of the onslaught of internet outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et cetera.
Narcissism has always been an intrinsic element in human behavior, some persons using art, science, or religion to augment their feeling of personal uniqueness and importance.

In order to get the attention of their fellow man, persons painted, sculpted, proclaimed prophecies, started wars, or went exploring in far off, dangerous places.

But such activity always needed a hook, a peg upon which to hang one’s narcissism.

Contactees of the 1950s used flying saucers and alien contacts for their hooks or pegs.

The Hills, Travis Walton, Betty Andreasson all used UFOs or UFO events to employ their paranoidal need to seem special.

But, now, with instant access to self-attention via the social media sites noted above, persosn don’t need a hook or peg to get attention; they just employ self-referential materials: photos, activities, locales, which give them instant attention, or so they think.

A good example of a person who has been able to ditch UFOs as an attention-getting device using social media (Facebook mostly) to garner attention is Paul Kimball.

Paul has maximized his Facebook page in such a way that he is able to garner all the attention he needs, and then some.

This isn’t an indictment of Paul or an accusation of narcissism. It’s just a good example of how people have been able to get attention without having to resort to hooks or pegs, such as UFOs.

External items are no longer necessary to grab the public’s attention. One’s persona or personal devices do the attention-getting all by themselves.

The 1950s contactees would have had a field day with a Facebook or Twitter account.

Adamski could have spewed his theosophical swill without the need to drag flying saucers or Venusians into the mix.

Betty and Barney Hill could have exploited their mixed-marriage,

And Travis Walton might have utilized his forlorn logging job as the vehicle to get the attention that he needed – no need to be abducted by UFO critters.

Nowadays, people can point to themselves, via “selfies,” to show off; nothing more needed but a photo of them with a new hat or in a new location.

Paul Kimball has got it down to an art, and I’m not chastising here. I’m noting how the matter is used by an exemplar of social media par excellence.

People don’t need to grab a photo of an odd thing in the sky any longer. They only need to catch a shot of a cute cat or a child spitting up food. That always gets the public’s attention.

So, UFOs will give way to “selfies” and fast-food visits.

And the phenomenon used to grant narcissists a unique attention will die off, is dying off.



  • Rich
    A terrific post.

    1. The issue of the phenomenon used to gather personal attention as a form of self promotion that has a higher place in a personal hierarchy than the subject itself has been one of the key characteristics of the ufo subject becoming redundant and ridiculed.

    2. If this phenomenon ( as you suggest) represents a feedback loop utilizing consciousness as expressed in language by way of a transactional exchange, the viral incoherence of our role within it... then 999.999% of of this blather is off topic to them as well as being consistently incoherent..

    3. Quantity versus quality is another issue. Item # 1

    4. Imagination entrained to entertainment rather than critical thinking.

    5.A lack of context that arises from outside of the subject is missing. This is another human feedback loop.The fantasy prone, the entertainment factor, etc feeds on itself as a sort of hermetic process that exponentially increases stupidity.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • This is perhaps one of the reasons Roswell lingers, it pre-dates the ever growing tide of cultural contamination of the issue.

    Yes there are those who have clearly offered mendacious accounts of their involvement, or claimed to have witnessed things they clearly did not, but the narrative itself is rooted in an age when people were a lot more straightforward; they lived lives of quiet desperation, they did not have access to the opportunities to invent new realities for themselves as they do today.

    The debunkers have a very easy time dismissing the UFO issue as exemplified by contemporary reportage as almost all of it is merely a cipher for someone's existential crisis.

    It is for this reason I believe that ufology can only go forward by going back.

    By Blogger Ross, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • And Ross...

    I neglected to point out that the Roswellians continue to use that incident to accrue the attention they need.

    UFOs and Roswell are not needed as foils for one's narcissistic needs nowadays.

    All one needs is a smartphone, a good photo app, and a few photos uploaded to Facebook or Instagram.

    No one needs to create music, art, or anything else to be "famous" for Warhol's fifteen minutes.

    One just has to persevere in the social media milieu.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • You have a good point.

    The topic of UFOs probably gets more derision now than in the 1950s. And dotty types as in the 'Disclosure Project' will continue to pop up at intervals, then be shot down and generally laughed at. Conspiracy ideas will go on - mainly in the USA, and modern communications will spread such ideas very fast indeed. But not for long; because as one idea dies out so another can pop up at once.

    We have 'progressed' in one sense, but 'regressed' in another. We are a lot wiser about real science and real technology but there is still plenty of room for the pseudo-science guys.

    What IS very noticeable (and discussed previously) is the total lack of recent photographic evidence of UFOs - an anomaly if so many sightings are allegedly occurring and such ready availability of cameras, and communications devices, everywhere now.

    The reason? Nobody would care one iota if a new photo was produced today. It would be such an obvious fake!

    Anyone wanting publicity, such as contactees or abductees, can get it so easily now by other means.

    Any modern UFO sighting is ignored unless it is VERY special - you can see the lack of these. Abductions are as good as finished; and about time too. (Sorry Dr Jacobs).

    A few UFO groups will probably continue, but the great majority will disappear, or have long gone anyway. Discussion groups will certainly continue (as per this & other blogs), but that is all. Discussion and debate yes, but without ever a real conclusion.

    Exciting future, isn't it?

    By Blogger cda, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • My new motto, Christopher and Bruce:

    I am dead to the world's tumult, and rest in a quiet realm.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • RRRGRoup,

    But it does seem that Ufology attracts those looking to ascribe to themselves some transcendent experience. Whilst there are a great many people who seek any attention they can get, and will do seemingly anything to get it, Ufology seems to serve a different niche.

    False claims of alien abduction, sightings, or stories about working on UFO back engineering projects, all are rooted in a need for people to make themselves more interesting.

    It's the curse of the age I suppose. Striving to be noticed, and then desperately seeking anonymity in the eternal oblivion of a Vicodin overdose.

    By Blogger Ross, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • Of course Ross, the remnants of the UFO path to attention of "transcendence" remains, but it is a dying approach for older people, UFO mavens like me, CDA, and the Roswell Dream Team.

    The millennial set knows that they don't need a crutch to get attention or to assume transcendence; they just need a good camera or smartphone and a Social Media account.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • "Embrace the written word, read a book." That about sums it up for me.

    TV programming is shot all to hell with reality programs with no social redeeming value...that includes the repetitive cycling of paranormal crap passed on as value added substance.

    Rich touched on the new psychiatric diagnosis of the "Truman Delusion" based on the false belief that one is being manipulated for social viewing entertainment. There have been numerous cases attributed to this "newly" discovered/labeled disorder...as if we need another.

    Frankly, I'd rather play with the schizophrenics...at least they're honest.

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • CDA brought up another aspect of this dilemma..

    1. The existence of this phenomenon is regarded by publicly by mainstream science as nil.

    2. Due to the aforementioned they handed the knife by the hilt to the lunatics.

    3.So called Ufology is divorced from science.

    4. Due to #2, no scientist under peer pressure as well as the pressure to obtain grants is going to touch this subject with a ten foot pole.
    This completes another loop.

    This being said and speaking strictly for myself, folks within the scientific, industrial, educational and military fields off the record are interested but dare not broach this subject due to all of the above.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • RRRGroup,

    Maybe this is all for the good, if the freakshow finds a new venue, perhaps Ufology can be reclaimed by those interested in researching the story rather being part of it.

    By Blogger Ross, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • Continued

    The biggest untold story is Bigelow , his contractual relationship with NASA as well as Jacques Vallee being a consultant. Who projects television images on a screen attached to an orbital device into the void of space if there is no one to see them? I kept bringing this up and was consistently ignored.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • In my own (and humble) level (then relativaly and for France), I note that people, due to facebook, twitter etc. reports strange sightings to astronomy networks on line, including shoots (video or photo).

    People then can share online their sightings and maybe (I insist about the maybe), they have not the same reflex as before.
    They have then not only "ufologists" - proponent of ETH - or media jumping on their accounts, but professionnals or amateurs of the sky able to reply fastly, and not only "Dunno, therefore Alien".

    Despite the tales have strangeness in the first account, these medias have the good ones reflexe imho: asking the azimuth, angular size, etc and it is fastly "we" found the prosaïc candidat.

    Dunno if Social Media is killing UFO, but I can say that it is different now, noticing how people experiencing strange thing in the sky have the reflexe to join Astronomical media.

    In France, "the night of the stars" initiative, in short a day (or two) where TV and other medias interrest the Public to the observation of the sky have good repercussion. Ten years ago, we were 10 in my little village for this event, last summer probably 1000.

    I dont think Social Media are killing the myth of the UFOs: with blogs, url, site, podcast etc, the UFO proponents have new tools too to promoete their theory...

    As Humanist (thinking the UFO phenomenom is a modern myth), I think the Social Medias is a cool thing.

    CDA noticed the lack or total decreasing of UFO shoots (photo video), despite more and more the people have in on line time an instrument to shoot an UFO -I-Phone I-Pad, e-Phone, easy to have numeric camera). Dunno if the ufologists (ETH proponent) realizes it...
    Of course, they propose (when I exchange with them, ad hoc arguemnts, as the Intelligence behind the UFO is adapting her/itself to the new technology in order to remain elusive !). Hoo well.

    I note too that ufologists are constrained to focuse now in old cases. They like it and focuse on quasi only on them.
    Recent "buzzzzz" cases are easy explainable or have been explained (Phoenix, Stephenville, and so on)...

    I think after to have assiting of the making of a modern myth, we are assisting to its death. But it will be remplaced, because people like to believe in weird things ;)


    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • Gilles,

    People are more into themselves, their ego manifestations and social media is conducive to their need(s).

    They don't need UFOs as a tool to get attention.

    I used the New Yorker article about paranoia as a stepping stone to the idea that narcissism is rampant, and doesn't need unnecessary items (UFOs for example) to quell the desire to be seen or be heard.

    One only needs the tools of social media -- smartphone or computer and a social media venue.

    Yes, as I noted for Ross, there are remnants of leftover UFO mavens still using UFOs as an attention-getting topic. but they are a dying unnecessary breed of narcissists now that social media is available for their neurotic need to be "known."


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • Well, if you include the "narcisism" variable in the equation:
    You will easy discover who have "implemented" the UFO myth and you will go to the sources of this modern myth...
    Ray Palmer "jumping" on Arnold sighting and the 1947 UFO wave is a good start imho to accept (as the best hypothesis) the UFO phenomenom is a "modern" myth.

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • Gilles,

    You are missing my point.

    Much of humankind has had, since time immemorial, a need for attention, whether it was the cave painters, the war lords, the creators of the Parthenon, et cetera, et cetera.

    Within the topic of UFOs, this blog's raison e'tre, I'm saying that contactees and many UFO notables (researchers among those who have had UFO experiences) used the UFO phenomenon as the vehicle for obtaining attention.

    Today, no one has to do that.

    Attention comes just by flaunting oneself, using "selfies" and other personal contrivances, via Facebook, Twitter, et al.

    UFos or a painting or any other worthwhile endeavor is not needed to gain attention.

    Just being stupid or photographing a cute animal will get someone a large volume of attention.

    This eliminates the need to use UFOs or other weird elements to grab notice.

    Some people have taken the step a bit further by employing The Truman Delusion: they are the subject of an ongoing (paranoiac) reality show, produced by external agents?

    You need to read the New Yorker piece; it has more than I have presented that is pertinent to my suggestion -- that UFOs are dying because no one needs them as an attention getting matter.

    Yes, some still use UFOs for fame (and fortune?) -- the Roswell Dream Team, for example, but that is old-school narcissism.

    New narcissists realize that they don't need anything but chutzpah and the idiotic idea that what they eat or what hat they're wearing is grist for the world's attention.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • OK.

    Yes, the Roswell DreamTeam is an example of Self-Delusion, of Narcissism (perhaps).

    From the 80's to today, the Roswell myth have prooved nothing to the scientific community, excepted to be a myth.

    I know you make "your days" in your blog with some promised evidence(s) by Bragalia (and the so called DreamTeam).

    I will not state what I think about this investigator - Tony- (never seen in Ufology such a naive guy, limit childish, oups...).

    Or about Don Schmitt and his false diplomes and previous lies.
    (yes, you, Roswell ETH proponents make as if all is forgotten or erasing your Gospels, you are functioning like a religion... that's ufology). GRAND PARDON !

    One more time, concerning the future new evidences you are promoting in your media
    (despite social media are bad!) I guess nothing in the future impressing the Scientific Community, no smoking gun, or dunno what, will transpire/will be released by the so-called DreamTeam.

    The same as before, it is written in the narrative processings of the roswell Myth (déjà vu).

    Future best-sellers, bloging, interviews... So, Déjà-vu...

    They will present again ZERO value proof/evidence in regard the extraordinary claim they state. Nada. That's the Roswell myth from the 80's to today (and tomorrow)...

    So, you too profite/promote or announce new evidences concerning Roswell! After all. No? But Social media is killing UFO. You see the paradoxe?



    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • Gilles,

    Roswell is incidental to my post here; it's not even a footnote.

    But I do support the Dream Team, as I equate their efforts to a scrutiny that is not unlike the scrutiny given to the search by Schliemann for Troy or the Jesus Seminar for the exact words of Jesus.

    You discount Roswell as a myth but do not give it the justice that a Mircea Eliade or Joseph Campbell would give it, if it is indeed a myth.

    You are too mean about Roswell and too skeptical, unreasonably so.

    You are being unacademic.

    Again, this posting has little or nothing to do with Roswell, and so trying to fit that shoe on this post's foot is errant.

    The post is about social media, paranoia, and narcissism. not Roswell.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • In regard to culture of narcissism outside of it's effect on the scientific study of our topic.

    1. The concept of community in terms of direct versus indirect communication has radically changed. Less direct community has increased narcissism.

    2. The marketing of a majority of products are based on promoting narcissism.

    2.Narcissism is best viewed by the actions of both a John Kennedy and a Adolph Hitler while the end result was at either end of the spectrum.

    3. The proliferation of "Aren't we wonderful?" commercials by Walmart, British Petroleum and others that are underlined with putting safety behind profit or the destruction of family based businesses that comprised Main St.

    4. The worship of narcissism in the media and entertainment industry. A more than significant number of "celebrities" who destroy themselves due to low self esteem, masked by compulsive narcissism.

    My solution? Turn off, tune out, drop off the radar screen.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • And I hope, Bruce, you are getting my point that narcissism is so easy to exploit nowadays, with social media exacerbating it.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 19, 2013  

  • Absolutely.
    Despite all the bullshit, we navigate a depressed, narcissistic society with a chronic case of low self esteem.
    I went through a bout of paralysis a and as I grew sicker I became more narcissistic and more depressed.
    Only when I fought dwelling on myself, I felt less depressed.
    Call it a metaphor for society.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Friday, September 20, 2013  

  • I'm baaaaack. Nothing like a trip down the Oregon Coast to restore serenity and a sense of wonder at the beauty the universe has bestowed on us.

    Now to business. This post does strike me as a critique of Paul Kimball (and maybe a couple of others), despite your claims it's not. Methinks you doth protest too much. Kimball does have a healthy ego (or maybe it's a fragile one, who knows?) and Facebook has proved a good venue for him to exercise it. But being honest, maintaining a blog or commenting on one is just as much an ego exercise as a Facebook presence.

    I disagree that those who paint, photograph, write, or engage in other creative activities do it in order to call attention to themselves. Maybe the marginally talented might do so, but those with a true gift can't NOT express it, even if expressing that talent leaves them penniless and alone. True creative talent is a life force that can't be denied. It's the poseurs who must bang their drums loudly and continually.

    As for Ufology, the statement is often made that with the proliferation of cell camera technology there should be plenty of great photos of UFOs if they, in fact, do exist. So the lack of these cell phone photos is proof they don't. Well, haven't you watched the behavior of people with their phones? They are oblivious to everything surrounding them, even their companions, while they fixate on the devise screen. They're too busy compulsively checking e-mail every 30 seconds, or texting, or Tweeting, or gaming, etc. to even glance at the sky. A squadron of B-1s could be flying overhead dropping their loads and most would die on the spot because they were too focused on their phones to notice or take cover.

    Yes, the technological advances that enabled social media are diminishing Ufology (and is that really a bad thing?) because in the throes of portable device addiction, people are becoming more and more out of touch with their surroundings. You can't see (or photograph) what you don't notice. A phenomenon cropping up in my city (and maybe nationwide for all I know) is people now operating two, and occasionally three, of these personal devices simultaneously. Imagine what that does to their awareness of their immediate surroundings.

    In five years, Ufology (whatever it looks like) will likely exist only on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever else comes in their wake as the non-geezers move to the platforms that younger generations prefer. It's just the relentless march of technology.

    By Blogger purrlgurrl, at Friday, September 20, 2013  

  • Glad you're back among us UFO zombies, PG....

    No, my remarks about Paul Kimball are not criticism.

    He really has taken social media to its extreme, and exemplifies how that should be done.

    I once noted, in a magazine article, that Paul was a self-promoter.

    And he is, but he corrected me by noting that he has a raft of businesses (film/play/TV production, book publishing, music promotion) which need to be lauded in order to thrive.

    That's what his social media is about for him -- well mostly.

    He does like to redo his profile photo a lot.

    As for art, I work with Freud's concept of sublimation.

    Thanks for the weighty comment; you're giving Bruce a run for being the wordy one here.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, September 20, 2013  

  • There is a world of difference between being an artist and the man on the street.
    There is also a world of difference between narcissism and say, a Monet or others.
    The artist deals in expression and the man on the street deals in impressions. The artist says don't look at what is in my hand look at what I am pointing to.
    To make a living as an artist is one one the most difficult aims a person can embrace financially.
    Hundreds of years ago, the patrons funded them, now Facebook.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Friday, September 20, 2013  

  • ...actually RRRGroup, posting on the comment threads here IS social media seduction...

    By Blogger Kurt Peters, at Friday, September 20, 2013  

  • Yes it is...KP.

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, September 20, 2013  

  • Giles Fernandez wrote: "I note too that ufologists are constrained to focuse now in old cases. They like it and focuse on quasi only on them.
    Recent "buzzzzz" cases are easy explainable or have been explained (Phoenix, Stephenville, and so on)..." - - -

    The earlier-in-the-evening Phoenix sighting and the Stephenville sightings were explained by debunkers? Where can I read their explanations? TIA!

    ~ Susan

    By Blogger brownie, at Friday, September 20, 2013  

  • I left a comment/question yesterday regarding this article, but you have not posted. Why? Thank you.

    By Blogger ffkling, at Sunday, September 22, 2013  

  • I didn't like it.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, September 22, 2013  

  • > UFOs will give way to “selfies” ... the phenomenon used to grant narcissists a unique attention will die off

    I beg to differ.

    My observation is that the internet allows a vast number of individuals to broadcast their UFO message. There are several blogs devoted to alien-spiritual fantasies (religious teachings, cute hybrid babies) and speculations (from New Age to NWO). There are too many YouTube channels posting ridiculous delusions about flying objects (fake planes and nighttime orbs). And there is no end of ebooks by people who want to share their personal knowledge about the aliens (channeled teachings, psychic alien predictions, past-lives as aliens, even loving marriages to aliens).

    Technology will not eradicate UFOs, it will change UFOs. Without gatekeepers, the indiscriminate UFO fandom will no longer be confined to consuming product, UFO fandom will produce it. And with no quality control to speak of, this expanded world of UFOs will be sordid, stupid, and spiritual (for the most part).

    This process has already happened to journalism. It's been nice to have a greater variety of sources and perspectives on news events, but there is also a lot of dross and crap out there. The difference is, professional journalism had a lot of powerful and respected entities when the internet came along: many of them can weather a long decline, some will probably survive. But respectable UFO institutions and publications were shuttered or in decline long before the internet. The somewhat professional, somewhat serious UFO people are old and dying off. The nut cases are filling the void.

    I'm not saying it's wrong! I'm just saying it should not be a surprise.

    By Blogger Terry the Censor, at Sunday, September 22, 2013  

  • Terry...

    UFOs are at the tipping point: newbs will drop them as their entree to fame once they realize they don't need UFOs or anything to get attention.

    That some people still think UFOs are attractors just goes to show that delusion still reigns supreme in some quarters.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, September 22, 2013  

  • > UFOs are at the tipping point

    I agree. Ufology was an investigative endeavor aspiring to be a science, but that stopped long ago. In the absence of hard evidence, it's devolved into an anti-science conspiracy theory.

    > newbs will drop them

    I disagree, somewhat. Left out of your discussion of narcissism were the people who express awe in their UFO reports. People still need that in their lives. They might start with UFOs then move on (as you suggest), but as long as UFOs are categorised as a mystery, people will be drawn to it.

    Unfortunately, objective investigation (or at least the pretense to it) will be entirely replaced by personal revelation.

    By Blogger Terry the Censor, at Sunday, September 22, 2013  

  • Terry,

    We have a dozen blogs and web-sites plus Facebook pages catering to the creme de la creme of young media people -- news anchors, reporters, deejays, producers, et al.

    None, and I man none, will discuss UFOs, even flippantly.

    The topic is so uncool that I can't expect that any normal kid will enter the UFO arena, no matter how mysterious and interesting they still seem to be to us of the older generation.

    UFOs are done, just not buried quite yet.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, September 22, 2013  

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