Now that Photoshop is no longer the special domain of photographers and analysts, cameras run at unlimited frame rates, everyone with a computer has access to special effects suites, and Google Earth is Google Earthing, I’d say the age of visual evidence is pretty much over for ufology, wouldn’t you? But is that a bad thing?
One could suppose that advanced aliens would have the means to make their craft invisible, rendering the question moot–but if they do they certainly haven’t used their cloaking devices liberally over the years. Maybe they want to be seen. Maybe they don’t care either way. Or maybe, just maybe, they don’t exist at all.
What if the end of the age of visual evidence means this: we can prove that ufological phenomena belong to the trickster realm more than alien? We will know this if, for instance, ufological evidence stops being visual and starts taking place in the other senses. Already we’ve seen people talking about mysterious booms and mysterious trumpet noises. Phantom sounds. And as our attention spans have been decreasing, we’ve been asking ourselves if time is speeding up, right? Some people link this and deja vu to interdimensional beings, parallel worlds, time travelers, and aliens or future humans fixing our timeline, whatever that means. I imagine the next big thing will take place through touch: people claiming to be knocked down by a mysterious invisible force. A phantom sucker punch, if you will. Or perhaps a light tickle on the back of the neck that feels like a finger. Maybe it starts out nice but grows violent until you have a story to tell.
I can also imagine an entire town waking up from the same strange dream about grays and talking to each other about it. Then someone calls Coast and it goes viral.
Is that us searching for an unknown to explore in the face of the “alien” unknown growing quieter and quieter as youtube hoaxes proliferate? Or is the phenomenon doing that? It could be both: as our visual tech renders photo and video evidence moot, we create several new mysterious options for the “alien” to appear in our lives and whichever one becomes the popular norm is built upon by the enigmatic other–if there is an enigmatic other. Perhaps that other is no more than the human collective working in a way we have yet to prove, creating tulpas that act out our agreed-upon mystical fantasies in a concrete way that today’s materialism demands.
We won’t know what the definition of the enigmatic other is if alien ships get replaced with sound, touch, taste, dream, time, or other phenomena, but we’ll know what it is not: what we thought it was, believed it was, and fought over deep into the night for the last 60+ years. And when the hurt wears off from realizing we’ve wasted our lives believing self-woven fantasies about the other, that’s when we’ll see we’ve actually taken one small step closer to seeing it as it is by having dramatically peeled off a huge layer of what it is not.