What Did You See?
I went through a conspiracy phase. It was in the 90s mostly, but resurfaced briefly in the early 2000s due to the Florida Recount and the events of September 11th, 2001. I didn’t see conspiracies everywhere, but I certainly did hone in on certain areas that seemed hazily believable — aliens, the JFK assassination, actions of COINTELPRO and the incident at Waco. (Note: I still believe aliens exist and possibly may have visited Earth. I think the Roswell stuff is baloney. I think the government let people think there was alien stuff going on because it made it easier to hide all the crazy space program/cold war stuff going on. I still find some of the testimony of test pilots describing UFOs compelling because they know a lot more about what they are looking at than me.)
I have always been a skeptic and an empiricist to a certain degree. My slavish devotion to research and a obsessive nature to understand has led to a LOT of reasonable explanations on all of these conspiracies. Simply put, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This is lacking, except for COINTELPRO, they are dirty scumbags. This exploration gave me insight on how these alternate narratives spawn and grow. I think there are two main eras of conspiracy theory in America.
Era 1: Pre-Internet (Assassinations and Little Green Men)
This is era is defined by word of mouth conversations and weird mimeographed books. The latter end of this era will see the rise of talk radio and open up a whole new channel for this information. It is pretty easy to see how bad information got spread around. Remember life before the internet? Seriously, think about it. If you saw something on TV, or heard it on the radio, that was it. Unless you were some weirdo taper…cough…that happened to record everything. There weren’t giant repositories of all the crazy shit you wanted to remember. There was no youtube filled with news clips or phone videos of last night’s TV. Human memory is also sort of shitty about things. It is easy to conflate memories, especially for things that appear less meaningful at the time they occur. Try to recall a vivid memory. Then try to remember what everyone was wearing. (Some no doubt can do this, but they are exceptions.)
This just adds artifacts into the existing narrative. Remember urban legends before the internet? You would hear something that seemed like a myth, but you had no way to check without going to a library, or happening upon someone that might know if the story is true or false. Bad information multiplies like a virus.
Era 2: The Internet (There is a Mirror Reality)
Yes, I realize that was transition phase, but it’s not super important. The internet changed a bunch of stuff. It allowed like minded individuals to live in bizarre echo chambers that reinforce their preexisting beliefs. It also gave us access to a ton of information. A lot of that information is total garbage and/or porno. So, my reactions are shrug, yay, boo.
I shouldn’t be so surprised that humans would use all this technology to lazily concoct an entire mirror reality to the one that most of live in. I guess I’m more surprised that it isn’t awesome. If I were to create a subjective mirror reality that I want to convince everyone is going on, it would include far more fun. I would just try to convince people that all these other constructs of human creation don’t exist, like gender maybe.
Yes, I’m a painting with very broad strokes. It will have to do for now…
You would think all this information would make it easier to debunk bad info. You would be wrong to think this.
OK, ok, people are angry and alienated. I get that. The world can be a scary place. The US Government is not perfect. Bad shit happens, and America overreacts to everything. TV news is outlandish. TV news is a commercial. Newspapers and Radio are far better sources of information. Content made by people who like to listen and read is generally far superior to content made to go on TV. TV is too caught up in the pretty picture.
Sidenote: Has anyone noticed the gleam in their eye on Doomsday Preppers when they talk about the upcoming collapse? They are exciting for it, right? Its like when you read The Stand and get all excited for how you can go in any store and take stuff. The world is your playground…until the Cormac McCarthy rape cannibals come out to eat and fuck you. Please know this, Preppers:
- If there is a collapse, I’m coming to your houses. The ones you showed me on TV. (Except not the hippie one with the gross hot tub.)
- If there is martial law, or revolution. You will lose. Holding on to a couple semi-automatic weapons will NOT, I repeat, NOT save you. You have no chance against the might of the US Military in its current form. Sure a few could hold out in some insurgency, but most of us won’t be joining you.
- The conspiracy is someone is trying to sell you shit. You don’t need or want 5000 servings of freeze dried plop. The fear that you accuse society of is the same fear that motivates you to buy this stuff.
- Alternative conspiracy media outlets use the same fear-mongering that they accused the mainstream media of using.
What makes me most upset is the invalidation of the experience of the victims. Every time someone accuses a victim of a bombing or a shooting to be a shill or crisis actor, it starts a white hot fire of rage in my gut. If you choose to live in a separate subjective reality, fine. Don’t steal someone else’s reality. They have to heal. We all do.