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8 Years On, A Thousand Changes

I can't believe how skeptical I was in 2017, and how jaded as well. I was a little harsh on social media, found my jokes at the expense of Bagans to be worth tweeting, and honestly didn't have much of a direction for what was then Full Dark Productions. The jokes were never tasteless or awful, I just wanted honesty reflected back at me from the highest-levels of paranormal entertainment, and not a lot of television was giving that. Bagans is an easy target in the later seasons of Ghost Adventures with the really wild reactions, but to be completely transparent, I'd go to his museum. I would! I'd place literal dollars in his hand to see that place in real life. And I don't find that to indicate something wrong with me, but 2017 me would be stunned. You know what? People change.

January 2017 now feels like it was in the midst of a shift, because it wasn't long after that we lost the Destination America channel, and the entertainment world of the paranormal was noticeably altered. I finally found my own investigative groove after a few nights at nearby locations and after buying an array of ever-shittier infrared lights. (I swear, just use visible light, don't trip over things.) The improvements in portable filming tech has also improved since 2017 and I couldn't be more thankful - I'm not a technical person, I just need an on/off switch. Keep it simple or I'll break it. But investigating over the past 7 years in this chapter of my weird life where I publicly post on social platforms has had its own shifts. Within one year I met this lumberjack of a guy who I'm now married to, we've somehow investigated so many bucket list places it could make me weep with gratitude, and a hell of a lot about my thoughts on the paranormal has changed. Then more years went by and more nights in haunted buildings, and more astounding instances that have made my brain melt and reform over and over again.

Listen, this is good! This is one of the main things that's become a focus for my weirdness and what a lot of my theories and ideas and ponderings come back to: changing one's mind. I don't want to say I was a dick the first year, but I was bold. I had opinions on the paranormal and the common tropes that are passed around and I used to post those in public places, regardless of who clapped back. I used to think it was worth trying to change minds, and in some form really tried beat the idea of critical thinking into anyone who'd listen. At this point, the better approach I've found is to speak about how good it can be to change one's mind, and the opinion on the other end? It's not the final goal there, that opinion can be anything within the otherworldly field of ghosts you'd like it to be. Even if it's demons! The ole' D-word. If someone has formed a hard belief in something that truly scares them, I know I can't necessarily break that apart.

What I can do, is help to explain that no one becomes wrong, or bad, or duped and humiliated or worth some sort of shame if they do change their mind. New information within the paranormal, or even ideas and theories that are entirely opposite of what one has learned and ingrained in their mind can be really terrifying, because it can turn what you thought you knew into nothing. It can take a belief and potentially shatter it. I've found that's the point where terror lays in wait, not in what the belief itself is. *I'm realizing this might apply to unpacking religious trauma as well, and that's obviously adjacent to the paranormal but you can probably find a documentary streaming somewhere on leaving a cult to tackle that one without me.

Example: I used to think ghosts and much of the strange activity I was experiencing while investigating was in fact caused by conscious, deceased people. As in, dead people doing things to the living, trying to be noticed and interact, etc. When I really examined my own experiences and had some discussions with paranormal enthusiasts and investigators who challenged that idea, I found it becoming flimsy. That ghost theory didn't hold up like it used to, and my experiences could in fact be attributed to any unknown entity, not just someone who lived at one point. The ghosts of my past were not going to continue haunting me into the future, the idea of all these experiences being caused by people faded, but the possibility that they could be any innumerable other entities blossomed. So did new theories of how, and why, and where and what causes these strange goings-on. My mind changed, and it didn't limit me, it simply opened a thousand more weird doors.

That's the hardest part, realizing that just breathing in new information or ideas carries the potential to suffocate old ones. The fluidity of every Big Question in the paranormal lends perfectly to this occurrence because they are unanswerable, but the fear behind potentially being wrong can somehow be the hardest part to overcome. That's what I like to challenge now, that is what I like to break apart within the rigid boundaries of paranormal theories and thinking. The focus of Full Dark that became Weird Adventures really came into what it was mean to be - we want to experience this weirdness and activity because we can't explain it, and it makes us challenge ourselves and what we think, over and over.

That's what keeps me looking into dark corners and sometimes mildewy basements. That's what motivates me to keep visiting the kinds of places that challenge my fears (I'm only human and I can't see in the dark), challenges my expectations, makes me break apart and rebuild my logic and beliefs, and forces me to reckon with my own former thinking. That angry little 2017 Amy who didn't quite know why she needed to keep investigating the paranormal but knew that challenging the dogma and facing the dark had value, found a really solid basis to stand on in 2024: go into the weird and the dark and face what you think you know. Challenge yourself as much as challenge the conventional and rigorous ideas that keep us within boundaries that were meant to never exist in the first place. And don't tweet stupid things about Zak Bagans, he's just some guy who likes ghosts too.

Maybe he's also changed his mind on the paranormal over the years. Look at that, he and I might have some things in common! Tell that to 2017 me.

Thanks for reading,



I'm Amy L. Bennett-Bradway, a writer, multimedia artist, recovering archaeologist and YouTuber from Upstate, New York. I've been invested in all things strange and unusual since my dad gave me the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy when I was way too young. Along with my husband, Ryan, we've explored countless haunted locations in the US and abroad in search of the Weird.
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