During the past two years, I’ve fallen down a lot of holes. Some, I didn’t think I would ever be able to get out of, despite it being my own choice that I ended up there in the first place. Through a couple hundred YouTube videos, podcasts, tv shows, novels, movies, and one university course, I discovered that I had an absolute love for the horror genre. You could even call it more than just a love – an infatuation. An obsession. A passion that I’m both thankful for and afraid of. This love has opened doors to worlds that I never knew existed; holes to fall down that I never could have imagined were dug so deep. I’m the kind of horror fan that loves it all: fiction, true crime, conspiracies – if you classify those as a type of horror. I do, because I’ve learned that the blood curdling theories don’t stop at the Illumanti and human cloning. There’s darker – and then there’s darker than that. My mom consistently asks me the same question every time I go to see the newest horror movie in theatres, or begin yet another Stephen King novel: doesn’t that keep you up at night? The simple answer is yes, of course. I’m not a robot, it’s not like taking the extra step forward into the darkness doesn’t come at a cost. But the reoccurring comforting reality is that the step backwards is always right behind me. I have had to put down a Stephen King novel to take a breather, and pause a podcast that toed the line a little too firmly. For some, that step back is not so accessible. For some, that step back means a lack of duty.
I’m someone who one of my favourite podcasters, Mike Boudet, creator of Sword and Scale, likes to call “morbidly curious.” I couldn’t tell you why. If there’s something that is too dark to be shown or listened to on the mainstream media, I’ll seek it out myself. I want to see it because I need to understand exactly how dark it can get. There’s just something about the darkest corners of humanity that feel to me to be screaming for sane people to pay attention to them. I want to know because I want to be made aware, because somehow knowing the degree of evil to which human beings are capable of is more comforting than pretending that there’s no such balance to the blinding light. I once thought that I wanted to be a police officer or a forensic analyst; a profiler, lawyer or a detective, so I could live my passion day in and day out – walking around in the darkness because I wanted to be there. I wanted to find the frenzied hands desperately searching for another to pull them out, but I couldn’t.
I listened to a podcast lately that made everything come full circle for me. 43 adults were netted in a child pornography ring that spanned two continents and included seemingly ordinary individuals from all walks of life. More disturbingly, these people used a website on the dark web to communicate, expressing their darkest desires to perform unimaginable sexual, and violent acts of abuse on the children around them. The Sword and Scale Podcast did listeners the terrible honour of playing the audio of what was said back and forth between users on this website. It was later explained that users also faced upwards of 20 years in prison for child pornography charges. What horrified me more than this entire episode was when it was explained how these charges were laid, and how police officers had the unimaginable duty to view hours of photos and videos of child pornography that was taken from this website.
I feel that police officers are often spoken of in a wide variety of tones and attitudes. I’m not here to tell you that all police officers are good people, or that they’re all a bunch of assholes – because just like normal people, there are the good and the bad. The one thing that all first responders have in common is this: they can handle walking around in the darkness. They can handle searching for those grasping at air hands that are both strong and diminished all at the same time. They are the ones that grasp them with interlocking fingers and not only can – but want – to be those hands. I’m not expecting everyone to respect every single first responder that they come across, as I’m a huge believer in a ‘if you respect me, I’ll respect you’, kind of mentality. But maybe before you decide to argue, or lash out, or bitch to your friend later about the asshole cop who gave you a speeding ticket, just give it a second thought – without those grasping hands, all we have is flailing flailing flailing, down in the deep holes where most of us are too horrified to look down into.