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  • Paul Davidson

Spirits in the Material World

I feel bad for spirits and ghosts these days.

In the olden times, they could haunt houses and scare away people living in their old house (before the “death incident”) without distraction. They could rattle their chains, knock on the floorboards and cause flowing blood to run down carpeted stairs. Usually, it didn’t require too much energy or extra planning and they would find themselves in an empty house before too long.

We all remember The Amityville Horror don’t we? Real, true story. Real events made into a movie, mind you — but real events nonetheless. These people were violently urged out of their house after freaky events caused them to run, screaming into the dark of night.

But I fear that these days, ghosts and spirits have become lethargic in their haunting techniques as a result of the media. (Yes, I know — we blame the media for everything!)

In all seriousness, spirits and ghosts must now compete with video game systems, hi-tech computers and MP3 players, surround sound, wireless computer networks, elaborate cell phones, PDAs and Television. Television, really, is the main culprit in causing the number of “hauntings” to drop drastically over the years. I mean, can you remember the last time you saw a news report about a family being ousted from their house or apartment due to ghosts?

I didn’t think so.

The current slew of reality programming, I believe, has caused ghosts and spirits to abandon their scare-fests and instead, has turned them into couch-potato watching TV fans. Think about it. They have not passed on to “the other side” as a result of being so distraught about their life ending abruptly, and have now turned to reality-TV as a way to live vicariously through the characters on TV. Whereas spooks used to be perfectly content with living alone in their old shell of a home, they now could care less about such trivial pursuits. Now, they’d rather watch The Apprentice or The Simple Life and relive the passions of flesh-and-blood, while watching Nicole Ritchie pour bleach on a bar’s expensive pool table.

Along with reality-TV is the current climate of hundreds of digital programming on services like DirecTV and Dish Network. Before, ghosts and spirits were faced with television dials that never went past channel 13. What did any of us expect? I mean, at midnight the National Anthem would play, followed by channels going off the air. These days? 24-7 programming. There’s no longer any opportunity for ghosts to be bored, and turn to spooking.

How do we deal with these problems? Are they problems at all? I know, personally, I’m more freaked out when I think that there’s a ghost or spirit hanging out on my couch all day and night watching television than being faced with phantom sounds and painful, echoing moaning in my attic. I like to watch my TV in privacy, not with some ancient farmer from the 1800’s enjoying Crank Yankers while sitting on my EZ chair. It’s just, well, not right.

Until I think of a solution, however, I suspect I’ll just have to keep the TV off if it bothers me.

In another part of my brain — I wonder if the Nielsen company has thought about tracking the viewing habits of spirits and ghosts. You never know, there may be a phantom “huge” audience for shows like Girlfriends on UPN.

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