While it’s a cliche to go the “we live in interesting times” path, it’s also the truth, right?
Can anyone remember a period where the world and our lives have felt so out of whack?
And no, I’m not pinning this all on COVID-19. Sure, it has sent life-shattering tsunamis through the lives of some — vale the COVID-19 dead and condolences to their families.
And COVID-19 has brought varying degrees of stormy weather to the lives of many others, although, conversely, some have profited from it, even advertently — here’s looking at you Mr Bezos and Mr Musk, and many others in the 1%.
But long before that first case of COVID-19 cropped up in Wuhan, China (allegedly), the world was already teetering on an unsteady out-of-kilter axis. Across the globe, we witnessed all manner of disruption the likes of which not so long ago we could not have dreamt of.
A former TV celebrity and serial liar becoming the most powerful man in the world.
An ex-tabloid journalist deposing a sitting leader and becoming the PM that delivered his country separation from the EU.
Tech companies accumulating so much wealth and power that they begin to have an influence not just over their users, but political systems and outcomes.
It all sounds a little too much like the next novel Orwell might have written.
With all this batshit cray has come what feels like the mainstreaming of conspiracy theorists.
Fears about the Illuminati were once top of the conspiracy heap, but those peddling fears and lies about this have been shaded in favour of a more cohesive and politically enthused conspiracy mob.
QAnon has benefitted the most from the strange times we live in.
With its right-wing belief system centring on a group of Democrats and elites attempting to oust a sitting president, they also link this supposed elites group to satanic paedophiles and cannibals, amongst other wacky shit.
So powerful have they become, they even managed to get a candidate elected to the US House of Representatives — Marjorie Taylor Greene (you can read about her here).
However, this has not been without controversy. Despite disavowing beliefs she espoused in the past, such as US school shootings being faked, that Jewish lasers might have started the deadly camp fires in California in 2018 and that the September 11 World Trade Centre attacks were not real, these lies that she formerly peddled have hung over her.
So much so, that the US House of Reps voted successfully to ban Taylor Greene from sitting on education and finance committees, even as this caused much ire amongst her Republican colleagues.
Conspiracy goes mainstream
With Taylor Greene’s election, even though she did not run specifically as a QAnon candidate, her previous connection to the group has meant they have been pulled into the mainstream.
And this has meant people who might not ordinarily be with the QAnon crowd have joined the crowd.
I wrote in early 2020 about the some friendships being unforeseen victims of COVID-19. Like me, I’m sure others have felt some friendships slide due to the pandemic, not just because of the difficulty of seeing people during lockdowns or due to travel restrictions but rather due to diverging views about the pandemic and governmental response to managing it.
Personally, I have “lost” one friend. After a number of disagreements, he informed me I was being hoodwinked by the mainstream media and only brought darkness to his life. He now only wanted to be with “the light seekers”.
Not sure who these “light seekers” are, but I hope he is enjoying his time with them. I miss him, and have reached out, but been rebuffed.
Another friend who had too much time during lockdowns and layoffs also fell down the conspiracy rabbit hole.
It started out innocent enough, coming across more as frustration at life being so difficult due to the pandemic, so I didn’t push him too much on his anger and frustration at “the system”. But then he started quoting right-wing media pundits and posting links to conspiracy theorists on his social media. The most recent was about “the Great Reset”.
You may have heard of it, although depending on where you get your news, it will have been fed to you differently. Trusted sources, such as the World Economic Forum, which originally coined the phrase, are clear about what it is.
The Covid-19 crisis, and the political, economic and social disruptions it has caused, is fundamentally changing the traditional context for decision-making. The inconsistencies, inadequacies and contradictions of multiple systems –from health and financial to energy and education — are more exposed than ever amidst a global context of concern for lives, livelihoods and the planet. Leaders find themselves at a historic crossroads, managing short-term pressures against medium- and long-term uncertainties.
As we enter a unique window of opportunity to shape the recovery, this initiative will offer insights to help inform all those determining the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons. Drawing from the vision and vast expertise of the leaders engaged across the Forum’s communities, the Great Reset initiative has a set of dimensions to build a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being.
Sounds pretty awesome to me.
Unfortunately, others, like my friend, are in their rabbit holes with a case of “Mixa-my-facts-up”, buying into twisted versions of what this “Great Reset” actually is.
There is a great piece about these conspiracies here.
From my mate’s perspective, evil forces were at work against capitalism, so much so, that by 2030 none of us would own anything and we “everything we have fought so hard for will be taken away from us”.
Not that he has ever fought for anything in his life, but it sounds impressive, right?
Even when it was pointed out to him to look at two or three other sources debunking the fears perpetuated by the voices who have gotten into his social media feeds and ear, he took a morally superior view that those of us who wouldn’t buy into it were not as open-minded as we made out.
Luckily, it didn’t end our friendship, although the few times we have chatted since have been very top-level…
Oh, he did urge me to watch this…
Think I’ll pass.
As much as I’m more than open to (and even hoping for!) our alien neighbours to drop by and say hi, and also think governments absolutely 100% hide stuff from us, Greer is on the very fringes of the ufology movement, so not an authority on UFOs — even if he convinces some that he is.
I hope my mate doesn’t get sucked further down that rabbit hole.
But, of course, there isn’t much anyone can do if someone wants to be down there. If I have learned anything from the weird year 2020 was, and the preceding odd years leading into it, it’s that people will believe what they want, facts notwithstanding.
All any of us can do is offer our opinions and sources of information as alternatives, and try to be kind to anyone who finds themselves feeling vulnerable enough to need the rabbit hole to hide in.
My hope is that if they don’t find Alice or the Mad Hatter or Cheshire Cat or Queen of Hearts down there to confirm their fears and conspiracies, maybe they will eventually resurface, hopefully cured of their Mixa-my-facts-up…