Technology has been both our curse and our gift. Information can now be at record speed; you can communicate with people in ways you could never before and records can be kept a lot easier. On the flipside books are starting to become obsolete (which as a writer really saddens me), newspapers and other news sources aside from websites are becoming less popular, and people are communicating more, but actually interacting less. The latter part then brings me to the first word in the title of this post: Atavism.
Now for those of you who don’t know, atavism is another word for regression. With technology we are regressing as a species even though as a society we seem to be progressing. Our speech, how we spell things, grammar and even non-existent words have been on the decline since the introduction of these technologies. My go to example for this phenomenon happens to come from a movie. I actually don’t like this very much as a movie, but as an anthropological study is ingenious. I’m talking of course about 2001: A Space Odyssey. The whole concept of this movie is evolution both of man and of technology. The movie starts out with a bunch of apes circling around this monolith that shows up. The apes are confused, grunting at each other, and trying to communicate what is going on but it is hard since they have yet to develop speech.
Then the movie fast forwards to 2001 (which for a movie that was made in 1968 is the distant future) where technology has overtaken man. It becomes a race between man and computer to obtain this very same monolith that now is on the moon. In the process, man has become cut off from other men due to the computers. This movie then shows a regression back to the days where men were still apes trying to grunt to speak with each other but instead of speech being the issue technology is. This of course leads us to the next word: Affinity.
What is affinity you ask? Put simply, it is connection between two or more individuals; connection that we are now losing because of technology. Now with texting, emailing, Facebook, twitter and all the other social media devices we don’t ever have to actually see a person to correspond with them. In fact I have been equally guilty of this as anyone. Technology has made us impersonal.
There is however another side to this affinity. Technology has actually helped us connect better in some cases than we ever could before, with people we would never have met if it wasn’t for that. The greatest example is twitter (since you all know that I am a twitter addict). For me twitter is a place that I have met tons of people who live all around the world that have my same interests. These are people who I would’ve never had the chance to meet before twitter and other social media. Even this very blog couldn’t be produced without the aid of technology.
So am I telling you to get rid of all technology? No of course not; gods know I couldn’t survive without it. What I’m hoping is that this will make you think about it more and use other avenues than strictly technological ones to communicate, gather information, read, etc. There needs to be a balance like in everything else, balance that the auditor was severely lacking the other day. Now we have come full circle in this little saga here which as you know always continues and will never reach a stopping point just as technological advances will also.
Life has gotten insanely crazy lately. On top of the wedding planning, school, and work, these past few months we’ve been house hunting. When we first started looking it was quite fun to search online to see what we could afford, what neighborhoods were best, what areas would work for both of our commutes, and so on. We found an awesome realtor who quickly started showing us around to homes in different areas of central Maryland.
To say it was tiring is an understatement. For the month of March and beginning of April it seemed like every night after work we were journeying around to all different homes. We fought bad traffic, bad weather, sketchy neighborhoods, and pushy realtors. That in itself was exhausting but when we started I didn’t really think of the other aspect to it: the psychic aspect of house hunting.
It’s no secret that since I was young I see spirits everywhere. The different places I’ve lived in and visited have left me with a bank of stories that I could fill a book with (and one day am planning on it). Just in these past months alone I’ve had more encounters than I do around Samhain (which since the veil is thin I have the most encounters around). That is what happens when you’re going into other people’s homes, especially the older homes.
At first it didn’t really cross my mind so I didn’t “prepare” at all to go into these other people’s houses that were full of history and in many cases spirits. One of the first houses we went into was built in the 70s. It had the very stereotypical colors, wood paneling, and even had a wet bar with a fish tank in it. Clearly it also had some memories/people that had hung around from that era as well, because as soon as I walked into the basement I felt like there were people staring at me. It made the hair on my arms stand up. It wasn’t necessarily a menacing stare, but eyes were definitely watching me. That’s when I realized that the next time I went into a house I was going to make sure my protection shields were up.
This first house I actually liked despite whoever/whatever was in that basement. The second house I did not. Not only did the street it was on not appeal to me, and the steps down to the basement worry that I would tumble down, but there was something in that house that didn’t want us there. After about five minutes we left; there was no way that I was going to stay in there.
The next few houses I had a mix of emotions/encounters in. There were a couple that I felt nothing at all (just didn’t like the house), some that there was definitely a presence but a non-threatening one, and others that felt like pure evil. Two in particular I remember very clearly; they were in the same neighborhood.
The first one was one that definitely had something non-human. It was a house that a married couple with three kids had renovated but hadn’t quite finished it. The basement was half finished and the bathroom looked like it was hodgepodged together with whatever cheap fixtures they could find. Also in that basement was a heaviness that caused me to have trouble breathing and my heart to race. This culminated in something that I saw in the unfinished, dirty shower of that basement bathroom. It was a strange, short figure that was sort of hunched over by where the faucet of the bathtub should be. It appeared humanoid but the proportions seemed off somehow, like the head was too big for its small body. At first my curiosity got the best of me and I peered in more to get a good look at it. That’s when I heard a strange hissing in my ear. That’s also when I rushed out of there. Our realtor could sense something was wrong and I explained to him that there was something in that basement and I never wanted to go into that house again (which as usual Grant sort of rolled his eyes at).
The second one that I remember distinctively was an old Cape Cod that was built in the 60s. It had a small first floor, basement, and the attic was converted into two small bedrooms. The basement was nicely furnished and nothing seemed off about it. The kitchen was nice and big and the upstairs attic bedrooms were also pretty spacious despite the low ceiling. It was up there though that something touched me. It was nothing antagonizing, just a playful tug on my arm. In fact part of me found it endearing, almost as if I child wanted me to play with him/her. The attic was painted white and the sun streamed in and I imagined children playing up there; it made me smile. In the end though that house just didn’t work for us since there was only one bathroom and a lot of it needed to be renovated.
So our house hunting continued. Some houses I liked, others I felt bad things after I stepped over the threshold that sent me right back out. Then about three weeks ago we found it: the perfect house, in the perfect neighborhood, with the perfect vibes. In the kitchen I felt a presence but it was warm and inviting as if it wanted us to live there. The bedrooms were perfect sizes, the backyard was huge, and the garage could fit both our cars and Grant’s motorcycle. All in all it gave off that feeling that we belonged here and that whatever spirit(s) were in that house were welcoming ones. Long story short, we will be moving into that house at the beginning of June after we get back from our honeymoon.
What this draining experience has taught me is that you never know what you’re walking into when you’re entering other people’s homes. They can be great but can also be full of horrors as well. It’s very possible though that the horrors were never seen by the families living there. For me whenever I go into an area with spirits, they like to come out and make their presence known to me. It is my hope that the entities in our new home will grow with us and become part of our home just as we will become part of theirs.
Samantha (Sam) Curtin is a Geospatial Information Science Graduate Student at University of Maryland and a Penn State Anthropology Alum. She has a passion for horror, dark fantasy, anthropology, technology, and religion. By day, Sam is a technical editor for the federal government. Her first books "Dark Cell," "Deal with the Devil," and "Summer's Hollow" are available on Amazon.com. All are published through her publishing company “Behind the Curtin Publications.”