I've only been in this internet community for about 5 years or so, and since my first observation of it,nothing has changed. I have heard many well respected researchers who have been doing this since the 70's and before talk about how this is the way it's always been.
Every topic of Bigfoot research has it's advocates and antagonists. Pro-kill/no-kill, call blasting/quiet listening, carry a weapon/don't carry a weapon, gentle giant/violent beast, the list goes on and on. The debate shouldn't even be about any of these things. The true heart of the matter is what are each individuals intentions. What is their goal? What is their main objective? These are where the differences take place. The other things are just details of how one intends to carry out their objective in this field, so why argue about it or be concerned with it? Does it infringe on your own intentions?
At one point in time I felt pulled in opposite directions by some of these pointless debates. I felt I had to choose one side or the other. Then I realized the problem wasn't in those issues, but the fact that my intentions, my main objective was just in fact different than those of the people I was trying to either side with or argue against. Our main enemy in this entire thing is lack of communication and trust. There are various reasons for that, but one of the main ones, that could be resolved, is a barrier we have placed on ourselves.
Pro-kill vs. No-kill
The most heated debate amongst the Bigfoot community of researchers. My question is "Why?" This is where goals and intentions come into play stronger than any other argument. Do you want to prove the existence of Bigfoot to the public, or to yourself? If your answer is the public, then any amount of rational thought behind the problem can one only come to an absolute conclusion. You need a body, or at least part of one. Science will settle for nothing less. The public will settle for nothing less. For those who believe a photograph or video will do the trick, then I have to say you are either not thinking this through rationally, or you are not interested in proving it's existence to anyone other than yourself. Let's just say you do somehow manage to get a photo or video. It's not going to be of National Geographic caliber. Odds are it's going to be no better than any of the hundreds of photos we already have that we dub "blob squatches." There are entirely too many variables in any given situation for someone to execute the goal of achieving clear photographs and or video. Not only the problems of maintaining controlled thought and body movement enough to take the picture, you also have to have the correct settings for the amount of light, the correct exposure settings, the right kind of film, a proper lens, the correct angle, the proper focusing, as I said, too many variables. Even if you were able to obtain a clear photo or video of a Bigfoot, who would believe you? How would you prove to anyone it wasn't someone in a suit, or some sort of special effects? Don't take my word for it, ask Bob Gimlin. Film documentation is not enough. As far as DNA samples are concerned, without a specimen to compare it to, they mean nothing to the scientific community.
We live in a world where we have become disillusioned; we are a generation who has seen everything. We no longer are concerned with the magic and wonder of the world's secrets. Myths and fairytales are things for children. Unless you have something someone can walk up and touch or stare at from behind a glass wall, we don't care enough to look at the "evidence." The new God of the world is television. That's what we believe. We believe Ray Wallace was Bigfoot, and otherwise it's just something comical thrown into a movie or commercial for amusement purposes. Anything that can be hoaxed, will be considered worthless. A physical body is the only thing that can't be hoaxed. For those who want to point fingers and scorn others for trying to obtain a physical specimen, if you are in it for the same reasons, and you honestly feel the same can be obtained by other methods, then why not apply some of your own ideas? If you think you can capture one live, or you feel photographic evidence is enough, then pursue that. If both sides are after the same thing, then instead of attacking those who have a different plan of accomplishing that goal, share your information back and forth, and then everyone will be closer to accomplishing what they are after. Someone you might be attacking, may hold that missing puzzle piece you need to accomplish your own goal.
Another problem this community faces is general public support. We are cast in a shameful light in the majority of documentaries, movies, and news reports. Maybe shameful isn't the correct word, it's more of a tongue-in-cheek thing really. Whether it be the crazy old town drunk, or the widow woman living in a trailer with her 18 cats, they always seem to make an appearance for the camera. When a building burns down, do the news reporters interview the crackhead that was across the street watching it burn, or do they interview the fire chief? The answer here is obvious. The reason for that is because the subject of Bigfoot is considered entertainment, and not real news. We are not looked at as professionals, we are looked at as hobbyists and crazies. The media has already convinced the public that Bigfoot does not exist, so who in their right mind would spend so much time and resources looking for it? Of course we in the community stand back and scoff right back at the public because they do not understand, they don't know the things we know. We could try to educate them, but in today's lifestyle that would take up entirely too much time. The public's attention span is limited as it is. That's the reason newscasts mix in some humorous stories in between the war efforts and today's latest homicide. Quite frankly can you imagine trying to explain the concept of weight displacement and dermal ridge patterns to someone who is picturing Harry and the Hendersons since the first second you mentioned the word "Bigfoot?" It's a losing battle. With those kind of preconceived notions, we end up with the documentaries we have in the public sector. A handful of weirdoes and crazies, maybe a few minutes of "real" researchers, and then the rest of the time devoted to skeptics with their PhD's posted below their names ripping apart the crazy persons claims. It's an age-old entertainment technique being used. The same type of entertainment could be found in a coliseum in ancient Rome. Two slaves worked half way to death, and then put into an arena with five highly trained soldiers, a few tigers, and a roaring crowd surrounding them. I mean honestly, do more people in America watch "Survivor" or "Nova?" The public is the majority, and the majority's voice is always heard. The question is, who is our majority, and who is speaking the loudest?
Honestly speaking, the Bigfoot community is seething with people who have true motives other than what they are claiming. I'd say strictly from observations I've made and people I've talked to, that 85% of the people in the research community either lie about sightings and experiences they've had, are falsely identifying experiences they have had, or have no experience what-so-ever. I'm not even talking about the so-called "armchair researchers." I have no problem with people who for whatever reason do not go out into the field, but still have an interest in the subject, and like to discuss it amongst other enthusiasts. That is fine. I do however have a problem with those people when they try to tell someone else who does go out into the field that they are wrong in their observations and conclusions. To me that is overstepping a boundary. No, my main grievance lies within the confines of our own research community. The people with the ulterior motives.
Sadly enough I feel that most of these individuals contaminating the research community aren't even aware they are doing it. They have been living under false pretenses for so long that they've become caught up in it, and do not even realize their own motives. What may have started out innocently enough as a genuine interest in a subject has become a drug to feed their social needs that they are unable to obtain elsewhere. These people have very little in their lives, not many friends, and are socially awkward. Within the Bigfoot community they have become "somebody." They get an opportunity to socialize, to get a glimmer of the spotlight's attention, and to add a bit of excitement to their otherwise mundane lives. It is all about their own needs being met internally. Bigfoot research is just the means they use to accomplish this. It could be UFO's, Ghosts, Knitting, Kite Flying, anything that allows them to feel they are a part of something bigger, something that allows them to live in a fantasy world outside of the reality of their own.
Unfortunately these individuals take it to extremes. They pollute the community with false reports. They make up stories that supposedly happened to make Bigfoot into whatever they want it to be, and not what it actually is. A lot of these types of people are considered "Bigfoot Romantics." Not all of these people are "Romantics" and not all "Romantics" are these type individuals however. In fact, I would say a large majority of these type individuals fall beneath the radar. They can use other people's research and sound like they are being honest and know what they are talking about. The internet provides them with the curtain to hide behind, and only by getting these people out into the field can you reveal the truth about their "Wizard of Oz" personas.
The other individuals with booming voices in the research community is the people with "Fame & Fortune" as their motives. The "media hounds." The people out to make a name for themselves and receive publicity for their actions. Unfortunately it's usually someone else's actions or research these people claim to be their own. Normally the person who loves to be in front of the camera, or interviewed by the local newspaper, is actually the person who does the least amount of actual research on the subject. Of course these individuals act like they absolutely hate this burden of being the "spokesperson." They act like they are making a sacrifice for the greater good. Do not be deceived by this act. If that were the case they would rotate the duties amongst other individuals, or they would give credit to other people from where their information originally came from. They in fact love the spotlight, and the attention they receive. It boosts their ego to a level where they feel superior to other researchers and common folk. None of that would even bother me, or really cause any problems within the community if it weren't for one simple aspect. They use other people's work and findings as their own. Who is going to know more about a subject, a person who was there and actually witnessed the event take place, or a person who heard about it at dinner a week later? How much of the event is going to stay intact and true by the time it works it's way to wherever it ends up? How often do the "media hounds" spice it up a bit, or add their own creative flair to make it sound grander than what it actually is? These "media hounds" are not just in front of the camera or a news reporter. Some of them go no farther than the internet to get their rise to fame. They can become know it alls and gurus on the internet, after all who is going to prove them wrong via the web?
As far as "Fame & Fortune" are concerned in relationship to motives, don't kid yourself. There are two sides to this one, first you have the person who is driven by these goals, then you have the people who accuse others falsely of wanting to obtain this goal. The majority of the time, the people who are accused of this being their sole motivation are being falsely accused. Most of the intelligent people in this community already know that chasing after these goals are a goose chase at best. Some simple research you can do on your own is ask yourself who proved the existence of the Panda to the world. Name in history? Hardly. You aren't going to open up any mainstream history book and find the information, nor are you going to discover that the man made a fortune off of his discovery. The only people making money off discoveries are scientists, and that's in the form of misappropriated grants. They do not give the local guide who led them to the location to make the discovery millions of dollars. Sure you might get a small amount of fame in the beginning, but once Bigfoot is proven to the world it will eventually find it's way into zoos and museums and become just another strange animal alive in the world. Someone might even pay you for your story or movie rights. Does that make you famous or rich? Of course not. You'll be a flash in the pan at best. You're never going to find "The Person Who Found Bigfoot" on the New York Time's bestseller list. Once it is proven, the public isn't going to allow themselves to eat crow. The media isn't going to allow egg to be repeatedly smeared on their faces. It will be buried as quickly as possible and turned over to science. Let's say you are somehow the lucky one who finds yourself in possession of a Bigfoot body. Who is the mystery billionaire that's going to make you rich? What if the Government decides it needs to take over the situation? No, I'm afraid if you were the "lucky" one, you would find yourself in a very dire situation indeed. At the very best you could plan it all out strategically, find a private buyer, and make your money. Then you can worry about Uncle Sam trying to figure out where you got all this money, and try to hide any connections you had with the buyer. As far as the fringe market is concerned, ask any well-known Bigfoot author, or any documentary film maker how much profit they have earned off the subject. I promise you it is even less than you can imagine. Nobody is making a living off of Bigfoot outside of conning private individuals into giving them money and equipment.
hat can be done to rectify the situation? Is it even possible? I would like to think so. I'm certainly not shallow minded enough to believe we can get everyone on the same page or in agreement with one another. I do however believe it is possible to shift the majority and the loudest voice being heard, but it takes cooperation from many individuals. We have to ask ourselves are we in this together or separately. Do we have a common goal over all, or are our motives other than what we portray to the community?
Individuals who are involved with the Bigfoot community, who are in it for internal socializing reasons, need to admit this to themselves. Once they have done that, they need to seek the passion that got them where they are in the first place, and put that to good use. Accept the findings of the field researchers for what they are. Do not try and make Bigfoot something you want it to be, but just observe and listen to the evidence collected, and learn what it really is. Then draw your conclusions from there. If you are not a researcher, and just an observer, do not try to portray one on the internet or in life. That's only doing more harm than good in the long run. I promise you, people in this community will talk to you, and discuss things with you regardless of how much or how little you know, or how grand of a story you can tell. If you think it would be neat to have an encounter, put forth the time and money it takes to put yourself in situations where that could take place. Don't make one up to get attention and admiration from others in the community. All you're accomplishing is misleading people and keeping our research held back by chasing dead end leads. If you think it would be neat to have Bigfoot on your property, but don't have any there, then just deal with that. Make friends with people who do have it, and visit their homes. Talk to them. Ask them questions about it. You'll be surprised to find out that the ones who really do have this happening on their properties don't really enjoy it all that much. It's not some magical event where they make a connection with some mythical beast. Most of the time all it does is cause turmoil in their private lives.
If you like the attention, be a true representative to the community as a whole, not just yourself. Give credit to the people you have obtained your information from. Show people that there is more than just a handful of people who are doing true research. The more names and findings of credible people you get out into the public eye, the more our voice is heard, and the shift of the majority starts to happen. You don't have to worry about losing your limelight. There are plenty of people who do not like the attention of the media, but still have valuable information to contribute. Be a liaison between the media and the research community, but be respectful of other people's hard work. If you want to give out information from a second hand source, talk to the person before hand and ask them if it's ok. Ask them if they would like the recognition. The answer may surprise you.
Wake up. If you have figured out a way to make a fortune off of this subject, then by all means do so. I don't see how you're going to accomplish anything by being alone in your endeavors. I've never known a time for fortune and greed not to go hand in hand. If you are looking for wealth, the odds are you are not wanting to share that wealth. The same probably holds true for any information that you might have that could be beneficial to the rest of the community. You probably hold it close out of paranoia that someone else might come along and make your "fortune" before you. There are numerous ways to share information without giving out exact details. The odds are since you're in it for the money aspect, you do not have large amounts of money at the time being. Maybe if you were willing to share your ideas or findings, other like minded individuals would help contribute to the cause. Of course this would come at a price. Any investment made would expect a profitable return in the case of a successful outcome. I do not personally agree with money being the key motivation, but it is motivation none the less. There have been many great things achieved throughout history with money as the motivational factor. I just don't see where the fortune is to be made, and I think if someone accomplished their goal it would actually make a lot of other people happy as well. "Fortune Seekers" just need to realize their common goal with everyone else, and try to make their money on their own while working together.
As far as the media is concerned, we already hold the key to changing it. We just need to put forth a group effort. We have amongst our ranks many talented and knowledgeable people in the media industry. Documentary film makers, authors, journalists, all these type of individuals could create quite a library of media from the inside. It takes a lot of work, time, and money. Not to mention many outside resources. As a single person I can't imagine how much work must go into a project, but as a collective no obstacle is too large. Granted we know not everyone is going to be able to contribute, or would even have the desire to do so, but some of us are. If even some of the talented people out there could start doing projects together, and spread the cost and workload amongst them, we could accomplish two or three times as much in the same amount of time. We need more REAL documentaries, we need more REAL books, we need more REAL articles and essays published, more REAL conventions. There's a magazine for everything, why not Bigfoot research? If we put enough out there, it will start getting more recognition. If we're putting good quality, informative, true information out there, we will start to gain support from places we haven't had it in the past. Some of us have already taken on these tasks, and I truly commend you for doing such. I'm sure some of you have put yourselves out there financially, knowing you will not make very much profit if any. I know some of you are very good at what you do. If those of you out there doing this could imagine what it might be like to work with other like minded individuals, think of the things you could accomplish. Eventually with enough material out there, someone will have to take notice. Just think what one single documentary presenting the right material could do if it were to be picked up by the Discovery or Travel channel. Bigfootville was not a big budget feature. It only dealt with the state of Oklahoma. Over time however, it has become a major documentary due to the fact that everyone has seen it at least once. What if that was a documentary done by actual researchers, putting forth real evidence, and real information? What if the most recent Bigfoot book was one done by a collective of field researchers, putting forth the most updated knowledge and techniques from the field? That is how we shift the majority. That is how we guarantee what the loudest voice is that's being heard by the public. We can sit back and complain about things, or we can work on changing them. It's too large of a task for any one person working alone to accomplish.
By writing this I hope I have inspired some people positively, or at least got people to think about things. That was my goal. I'm not expecting people to join hands and sing, but maybe a few of us can join together in one common cause and get something accomplished. I'd also like to point out these are just my opinions and thoughts about the Bigfoot community as a whole. If you disagree with me, that's fine, I respect that. I just hope you respect my opinion as well. That's what it all boils down to in the long run. Too many of us have a lack of respect for others. If we had that respect we so desperately need, we'd probably be a lot closer to solving this mystery than we are.
© Matt Knapp, Tulsa Oklahoma
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