The popularity of paranormal stories from ghost and goblins to demons teeters, but for some reason paranormal stories remain popular. Constant stories of haunted houses on television are ubiquitous and at best amusing, but such saturation sometimes transforms the things were fear in small, uncomfortable jokes. Parodying such ghost investigations as Ghost Hunters is entertaining, but on the other hand, facing fierce paranoia on a night you're totally spooked is something else.
In the end we may like the rush that partners with being creeped out, but real-life encounters could make our nightmares pale. Perhaps this is why we still like stories of demons and the paranormal. However, how we see and what we now consider demonic are undergoing some drastic changes.
At one point we were hovering over the deathbeds of our friend. It was dark in the small room and the bed was nothing more than a glorified table. As our friend takes a deep breath, we see a certain glow - a certain glaze - that we can only associate with death itself. A higher being is angry, and perhaps it's a more powerful being from below. Either way, something possessed our friend, and that's why he suffered before death.
This was how demons began. Every time there was death, we believed a demonic or other spiritual source was pulling the strings. We wished not to anger any of the entities the brought obstacles. In early medicine, we worked to remove demons from the body and we sought religious powers to banish the source of many ailments.
But then things changed.
How Demons Have Changed
In the pre-modern world, we spent most of our time trying to avoid an encounter with, please, and ward off demons. During an era notable for its strong ties to religion, we believed most shortcomings and demises derived from demonic presence or possession.
Today, however, we hardly give the notion of demons a thought. Sometimes demon stories are fun to see on the silver-screen, but most people don't even tease any fear of demons. Part of the reason we might enjoy a good demon story is because we want to laugh after a good scare. Being scared is fun, which is the opposite reaction anyone would have experienced during the pre-modern era.
Prior to certain advances in medical science, we never dared to break demons down by dichotomy. They were as real and organic and natural forces, although supernatural at heart.
The most common fear was disease. This was our first practice at protecting ourselves from unseen circumstances. Our lives would be comprised of mostly carrying measures to stop all dark forces, such as foreigners (in a relative, fear-provoking sense), disease, and death.
For this reason, the fear of demons became strong. While the term demon was normally reserved for oppressing forces, we still demonized other human beings. If they were ill, they were processed and we desired to run away. Outsiders could be under the influence of demons and might bring death or disease. And basic social actions, especially expressions of greed and lust, could result in a demon at your doorstep.
We've certainly lost the thought of a demon was a supernatural force. It's different than, say gravity, which we can calculate and define. Nevertheless, we have retained some fear of demons.
Maybe we don't consider certain things demons, per se, but our reactions are similar. What has mostly changed is how we see demons.
In the sense of demonized creatures such as werewolves, poltergeists, vampires, and zombies, we can pretty much agree there isn't a true sense of fear. Admittedly, most of these things don't or won't ever exist. They're the substance of legend.
However, we keep them in mind for entertainment. We read demon tales to toy around with the way we react to certain fears or events. While zombies aren't coming to eat you, intruders may be taking over your beautiful town and destroying it. We don't believe in zombies, but we're vexed by this tale and this tale of a zombie-like flesh eater in Florida.
And in terms of other demons:
Our Continued Fear of Demons
I agree with Jeffery Isreal who believes, while we don't see demons as evil entities with mystical powers, we still demonize other human beings under the umbrella term "stigma".
We still fear the unknown and strange. Although some of us are friendlier than others or more open-minded, many of us stick with what and who we know.
On most levels, we try to stay with friends and family members who we deem alike. These are people whom we can relate to, and they rarely carry a dark omen. And when we encounter someone different than us or come into contact with an outsider, someone trying to break inside our normal routine and social structures, a sliver of fear runs through our bodies.
This fear may be in the form of envy or threat, but only because we have taught our selves to categorize and prefer personal favorites. In much more obvious and flared situations, we demonize in the form or racial discrimination, gender norming, ridicule, disgust, disinterest, and other forms of harassment and prejudice. Some people simply fear the other and demonize it, but most of the type we consider this so normal that it crawls around undetected.
And of course, there's the fear of demons in the traditional sense. Sometimes we fear "energies" working against in the worst of times, and other times we fear the boogeyman under our bed. The way of door seems to creak open around the same time every night.
Then there's the unexplainable - the things were encounter and cannot make into sense. For this reason, we still enjoy the notion of paranormal activity and demon possession, even though it may seem humorous in the end.
How Do You React to Demon Fiction?
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.