Phill Anderson (@exploringwithphill) had his first unexplained paranormal encounter at four years old: a phantom sound of shattering glass and a disembodied female voice. Since then, his interest in the supernatural has taken a more hands-on approach, exploring haunted destinations and abandoned locations around New England and beyond.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of chatting with Phill about his experience as both a paranormal investigator and content creator documenting his supernatural quests online.
Our conversation ranged from banter about our favorite Ghost Hunters episodes to a more profound analysis of the paranormal community in the reigning age of TikTok.
Given the inherent split between believers and skeptics, history buffs and thrill-seekers, the field of supernatural exploration has many sides (both positive and negative) because its foundation is, well, the unknown! Amidst this crowded and oftentimes controversial field, Phill's approach is pragmatic and sincere, melding his love for history with a passion for the paranormal.
In other words, his growing platform is the perfect place for both paranormal enthusiasts and debunkers to engage in friendly debate, ask questions, and dig deeper into captivating stories of time's past.
Here are the highlights from our conversation:
Erin Shea: How did you get into paranormal investigating as an adult?
Phill Anderson: In 2021, I went on my first, like, I would say 'real' paranormal investigation. The town I live in, they do this thing every year where they invite like a group or a team or whatever, you pay a little money, and you go and investigate for three or four hours.
And then after I did that investigation, I started my YouTube channel I would say a month after that. At the time I was really into Randonautica, and I wanted to find out if Randonautica was actually evil or not. You know, you see a lot of videos online and wonder, what's really going on here? So that's what kind of got me doing weekly videos. It kind of started out with Randonauting and that turned into doing paranormal investigations while doing Randonautica.
ES: How has your experience been as a #ParanormalTok Creator since you launched your TikTok account in January 2023?
PA: So I joined TikTok late. And I joined, I think, because a buddy of mine has a paranormal podcast. And so I was like, you know what? It's a platform. I should at least put my trailers on there because I do weekly YouTube videos.
I had a backlog of like 10, 15 videos or something that I had trailers for, so I was like, I'll throw those up. See what happens. And I noticed immediately that the interaction and the view count especially was much higher than Instagram, definitely Twitter, and Facebook as well.
So by far the number one social media platform where I found that you get the most exposure, the most push, just the most eyeballs on your content. Even from the jump, I was like, wow, this is incredible.
ES: Your "real or fake" duet videos on TikTok are a great example of social media being used to not just share supernatural occurrences but potentially debunk them. Do you consider TikTok a good place for more frank discussion and knowledge sharing about the paranormal?
PA: Yeah, I started doing those because it's a really easy way to get people talking about, you know, one little clip about a ghost or whatever the case may be.
Whether it's real or not, at least it's a discussion. It gets people talking. And honestly, it's better because most of them are fake. So it's actually good to kind of get them out there and expose them for what they are.
'Cause I mean, there are ones that are really laughable but then, there's some people, you gotta give it to them because they're trying to make a living too. I understand that. But where I have an issue is if you're putting stuff out there as entertainment, you should say that it is entertainment only.
You know, 'if it seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true' is a good rule of thumb with any paranormal thing.
ES: Your TikTok bio notes the intersection of paranormal investigations and history. Can you tell me a little bit more about how this overlap fits into your supernatural ventures?
PA: Oh, absolutely, I mean, number one, I love history. So that's just that. I love history anyway, but I also love the paranormal. And more specifically, I love the Bridgewater Triangle.
And so, in the Bridgewater Triangle, some people think that a lot of the paranormal claims that are happening possibly could have been caused by King Philip's War (1675-1676). And so, I kind of put two and two together. I was like, well, why don't I go to these historical locations, whether it's Anawan Rock or the old fort in Middleborough, and tell those stories and then do a parallel investigation?
'Cause if there's someone there that is from that time period, if they're hearing a story about themselves, they may be more apt to say something or have an interest in what I'm saying or interact, which I've definitely found to be the case.
So, at least once a month I try to do King Philip's War sites, retell the story of the history, and then see, like I said, some sort of connection with the past. Or if the past comes to life.
ES: Are you a fan of any long-running paranormal TV shows?
PA: I was a huge fan of Ghost Hunters. It was the first 'ghost show' that felt like legitimate because they went from the angle of trying to debunk a lot of stuff. Whereas, nowadays, it's a lot more sensationalized, you know?
I don't watch a lot of TV stuff anymore. If I wasn't making videos, I'd probably watch more, you know. I think the biggest growth is not going to be from TV. I think it’s going to be from other people, these YouTube people. Everything's just so different nowadays...
I mean, it's good for people like me, for creators, because we start to get more of a voice and stuff like that. Hopefully, I think most people see who's doing things the most legit way. And usually that kind of stuff weeds itself out. 'Cause people that are, you know, faking stuff, usually get found out.
ES: Though ghost hunting on TV is famously done at night in the dark, you've gotten a lot of activity during the daytime. Have you found that there's any real difference in investigating before or after the sun goes down?
PA: So, primarily I do most of what I do during the day. I have done night stuff as well. For example, I've done the Hockomock Swamp day and night, and I feel like I've caught just as many things during the day, I would probably say more things during the day. But I think you can catch paranormal activity during the day, at night, dusk, dawn. It doesn't matter what time of day it is.
I think the only thing that would change is just the creepiness factor of it, you know. Like at night, it's creepy. You can't see as far. But other than that aspect of like not having all your senses because you can't see well, that's the only difference.
ES: Do you ever get truly spooked while you're investigating?
PA: There's been occasions where I definitely get unnerved for sure. Nowadays, like even if I heard a voice out loud, which I have a few times now, that wouldn't bug me as much. But if I saw some rustling in the bushes next to me, that would definitely make me jump. 'Cause I'd be afraid it was more of an animal or something. Like, I guess what I'm saying is, when I go out to these places like Hockomock, I would say I'm more afraid of animals than like actual ghosts.
I will say the first time I went out there to Hockomock, you could just feel like eyes on you. You know, that kind of a weird feeling like there's something else here. And so, when you first get exposed to that sort of experience and feeling, it's definitely unnerving.
I feel the more you do it, the more comfortable you get, the more, I don't want to say powerful, but like the more confident you feel about like being protected and not being harmed.
ES: What advice would you give to those who want to do some paranormal investigating of their own? Is there a right/safe way to test the ghost-hunting waters?
PA: If you're interested in paranormal investigating, I would say if you're gonna go out, go out in a group. Preferably with people that have been out before that you trust. If you don't have someone like that, then, you know, get some like-minded people together that wanna go out somewhere.
While you're investigating, I would stay away from saying things like "take control of my body" or like, anything where you think "Well, maybe I shouldn't say that..." you probably shouldn't. I'm personally not an Ouija Board person either. I feel like people should stay away from those things as well.
And then when you're done investigating, I always recommend telling whatever is there that you can't come home with me. All that stuff. So like, just be aware of your senses. If you feel like something is off when you're leaving somewhere, it probably is off. You know, like everyone has intuition no matter how sensitive or not sensitive they are. So if you get bad vibes, like it's probably for a reason. Always trust your gut.
'Cause at the end of the day, it is a lot of fun. Most of the time you're not going to run into evil things. Nothing bad's gonna happen to you, you're gonna get some cool evidence, but, once in a while, there could be something out there that could be dark, that could try to follow you home or something.
ES: Finally, do you have any haunted destinations on your bucket list that you'd love to have the chance to investigate in the future?
PA: I would definitely say Waverly Hills for sure. I wanna see the shadow people for myself. So I definitely want to go there. No doubt about that.
Also, even before I started doing ghost hunting, I've always wanted to go to Alcatraz just because it's such a famous location and was one of those places that was like known to be haunted for a long time, even before the ghost shows and stuff.
Thanks for reading and happy spooky season!
Follow along with Phill on his social media channels linked below: