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Scott Beauchamp

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Souce: The American Conservative

As most of the world hunkers down and social distances, the pain of our current condition is amplified by all the time we have on our hands. Going broke or feeling isolated is never easy, but at least during normal times we have an abundance of tools to distract ourselves with. What do we have now but more bad news, empty streets, and endless hours to mull? For most Americans, it’s an experience unprecedented in our lifetimes.

But something about it all feels very familiar to me. The constant low-level anxiety punctuated by brief moments of fear. The general feeling of this being a time of exception, where our vision is focused and priorities reexamined. Even the mournful way the entire experience has, despite injunctions to stay at least six feet away from each other physically, renewed our sense of living in a shared community. In some very important ways, this pandemic has the familiar mood of combat. I feel as if I’ve felt this all before, during my two deployments to Iraq as an infantryman. And perhaps because of my experiences, the boredom of social distancing feels like an old acquaintance.

I don’t think many people appreciate the value

Souce: The American Conservative

The dead mall explorers on YouTube are today’s version of the Renaissance ruin gazers.

Binge-watching YouTube videos is escapist, of course. But that doesn’t mean it’s boring. My own tastes run from the anodyne (YouTubers reacting to stand up comedy) to the esoteric (KrainaGrzybowTV), but on any given evening I typically land somewhere between the two. On a spectrum that wide, “in between” means paranormal ghost hunting videos on channels like The Paranormal Files, Mindseed TV, and Kelsi Davies. As superficially different as each one is from the others, ranging over vast tracts of American styles and modes of expression, they’re all fundamentally the same. People, sometimes using dubious technology such as “spirit boxes,” descend on properties with spooky histories at night and allow themselves to get really, really creeped out.

Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, and whether these YouTubers are actually gathering rock-solid evidence of specters, is beside the point. What they’re doing is using the internet to create and distribute a kind of folk-entertainment that explores the numinous aura of how the past itself is re-experienced. That’s why location is so important, whether it’s a house where a murder occurred, the tunnels under