Labels. We all use them, in every situation and context. Labels help us. They also manipulate us. We need something to hang onto, something to help us make sense of things. A handy quick label keeps us moving. We assume we all know, all agree, what we’re talking about when we use labels. Of course, most of the time that’s not true. We don’t agree, we aren’t sure, and we just want to get to it. Not get bogged down with defining our labels or explaining ourselves.
When it comes to UFOs, well, the word itself is a label abused. Both debunkers and believers (more labels!) assume UFO means aliens from outer space. (My theory is “they started it” meaning the skepti-bunkers, who insist that UFO of course “really” means ET, and therefore, let the scoffing and mocking begin.)
What labels to use when talking about people who’ve interacted with UFOs and or entities? Experiencer is a big one. Abductee, contactee, … the edges blur with those two, though of course those words help us identify witnesses who have been contacted, or taken, by entities. (And I do recognize that I use entity more than alien, certainly more than ET, because, well, we don’t know they’re literal ETs.) I will not ever tell someone who’s gone through encounters what to do; never suggest they take a specific approach or use only certain terminology. That’s up to them. For myself, I think simply using the word witness is enough. Yes, I’ve experienced things as well, but for me, that word in this context seems clinical. The use of the word experience removes a complicated mass of emotions and responses, it sets the self apart from the crazy mysterious scary weird exhilarating thing that happened.
It is up to each one of us who have witnessed these things to use whatever terms makes sense to us at the time. And the researchers who work with witnesses need to respect that, using their own language as they see fit, but allowing the witness her or his voice as well.