By Chelsea Booth
A few weeks ago I joined a support group for survivors of alien abduction.
How does one plunge so deep into the Internet’s abyss that they stumble upon a support group for people who have been abducted by aliens? Frankly, I don’t exactly know. Perhaps I should ask my therapist…
It was a busy night, a night where I should have been doing anything other than requesting to join a private Facebook group that’s dedicated to helping people who’ve been abducted by aliens in their sleep. But I couldn’t help myself, so I requested to join and within two hours, my request was accepted. I was in!
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect? Who were these 1.2k members of this group? Truthers? Tweakers? Trolls? Russians? I’m still not sure I know.
The group was filled with dozens of pictures that documented unexplained bruises, scratches, scars, blisters and other bodily ailments– all of which are hallmarks of a possible alien abduction (or so I’ve now learned). While some members described their abduction experience(s) in great detail, others wrote about having time lapses, UFO or demon sightings and posted scientific theories they’ve found regarding extraterrestrial life.
“I have been plagued by nightmares my entire life, and not just “normal” naked in school nightmares. As a small child, I believed I was being watched by time travelers and even things that were trying to determine “if I was human.” I thought if they decided I was human, they would kill me. I have NO IDEA where such detailed delusions came from exactly, but later determined that they were the product of OCD. I invented imaginary friends as a child to try and protect myself from the things I thought were watching me. There are some cool stories I have about these imaginary friends, including the one whom I named Lucifer, who was a cat shapeshifter. It turns out, years later — actually, only about two years ago — I learned that I used to have a REAL cat named Lucifer as a very small baby, under one year old. The neighbors butchered my cat and left the pieces on the porch…”
“…I never thought of aliens until my boyfriend mentioned that the things I was describing from my nightmares, even as a child, sounded like aliens. He was the one to wake me up once when I was sleep walking, which was a HORRIFYING experience for both of us. I just started yelling and yelling, like I’d never heard that noise come from my mouth before, and I didn’t even know why I was doing it. I don’t mean screaming either, I mean yelling, full volume. Then I started crying and collapsed on the ground, and he had to come get me and pull me back into bed.”
Members who believe they have experienced anal probing(s) and/or have been micro-chipped while they were asleep wrote some of the more disturbing posts. And not going to lie, when I woke up the next day with a cluster of three small bruises on my thigh, I couldn’t help that my first thought was: I’d been a victim of an alien abduction as some type of cruel punishment– an extraterrestrial karma.
The most surprising aspect of the group was the amount of support members gave each other. Survivors consoled each other during distressing times. They were always honest and open when sharing their experiences in order to benefit others. They used their creativity to help each other heal by collaborating on artistic projects. And most importantly, no matter how absurd some posts were (even to the group’s standards), no one ever stood in judgment of another. Instead, if a post seemed to exhibit strong signs of mental illness, members would suggest counseling, medication and other resources. Their professionalism astounded me.
Originally, I had anticipated that this alien abduction support group would be a goldmine for comic relief. But as the days went by, it quickly became a facet of deep personal curiosity and sadness. These people were truly suffering and I was an asshole to laugh at their misery. Still, I remained a passive observer because there was no amount of shame that could keep me from habitually checking in on the group whenever I could. The fear of missing out was real. The truth is out there somewhere. What if it was in this group and I missed it?
A week later, seemingly out of nowhere, an army of Internet trolls invaded the group. What was once a safe place for people to talk or share their experience became a cesspool flooded with bait-posts, anal probing jokes, degrading alien memes and harassing comments. Moderators were utterly blindsided and unable to keep up with the influx of negative traffic. It was like an online petri dish that encapsulated the sheer cruelness of Internet culture. To make matters worse, Trump announced his new space force program, which not only rattled the members’ nerves, but also gave the trolls an added angle to purse in their craft.
Hours later, the Facebook group was officially over; trolls eroded its original purpose and abducted it. Members ceased their posting out of fear of being judged and attacked by the merciless trolls. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. These people were using this group to cope with intense trauma that whether or not they actually experienced (that’s up to your discretion) was unequivocally real to them and causing them great mental anguish. If not here, where will all these people go?
For people who believe they’ve been abducted by aliens, there aren’t any places they can turn to without getting an involuntary one-way ticket to the psych ward. Although I can recognize how important it is that these people receive support, I can’t help but feel that for those who are sick, this group could potentially make them dramatically worse. It’s a catch-22 that I’m in no way shape or form qualified to evaluate.
However to this day, I’ve remained a member of the survivors of alien abduction group with the hope that eventually the trolls will get bored and the group will revert back to what it originally once was. And while I’m not convinced that aliens have actually abducted any of these people, I still can’t deny with 100% certainty that maybe one of them is telling the truth.