BY MAYENLI COMFORT '23
Conspiracy theories are like gossip—we claim we don’t care, but we secretly indulge in them when no one’s looking. I personally have a soft spot for conspiracy theories.
By conspiracy theories, I mean harmless ones, not the antisemetic and anti-government propaganda that circulates in the Facebook groups of thirty-year-olds. Here are some of my favorite theories: Tupac Shakur is actually alive and lives in Ghana, the color white is an optical illusion, and Harry Potter was actually written by Daniel Radcliffe (I mean, c’mon! The man basically described himself in those books).
There’s no doubt that 2020 was a catastrophe, and one thing that catastrophe breeds is conspiracies. We’ve all heard them, on Tiktok, Instagram, your mother’s WhatsApp group, your grandmother’s rantings. They're everywhere, especially COVID-19 conspiracies. COVID-19 is a serious issue that has affected almost everyone and has unfortunately claimed millions of lives. However, somewhere in the badly written movie known as 2020, people found time to create absurd conspiracy theories. They might spread misinformation, but here are a few of my favorites to read.
The most popular conspiracy is that the virus was created in a Chinese lab as a biochemical weapon to control China’s ever-growing population. Now, this one is just plain lazy and insults everything conspiracists hold dear. I mean, a “man-made virus” to be used as a “biochemical weapon” for “population control?” Seriously? That’s just the plot of a mediocre young adult dystopian novel written by another Veronica Roth wannabe. This is a textbook example of a conspiracy theory. They're basically just blaming China (which, side note, has been a staple in American political propaganda for decades now). No creativity, no flavor, no nothing! If this was an assignment, I’d give it an F.
Then there's the theory that the virus spread through 5G. Look, I’m all for crazy theories, but this one is really out there. Tech companies rolled out 5G around the same time that the pandemic started, so obviously, the only logical conclusion is that they are using telephone towers to spread the virus. Why? That’s irrelevant. The point is to beware of this new ploy made by money-grabbing tech execs. Your new iPhone 11 is capable of more than just high-definition pictures, it can also give you a highly contagious disease! The only real fault I can find with this theory is that somehow my phone can carry a novel virus, but I lose internet connection when I go in a tunnel. Make it make sense.
When in doubt, blame the rich! That appears to be the motto of some members of QAnon who came up with a highly unlikely theory blaming Bill Gates for the virus. These internet scavengers got the idea when they found a TedTalk made by Gates in 2015 right after the Ebola outbreak. In the talk, Gates said that the outbreak indicated that the world would be grossly underprepared if there was an outbreak of a contagious respiratory disease and urged governments to start preparing. Conspiracists took Gates’ words of caution as foreshadowing for a pandemic orchestrated by Gates himself. How does this benefit him? Well, you see, after he allows us to suffer for a while, he and some other members of the top one percent class will create a vaccine that will be embedded with a digital I.D, and refusing to take the vaccine would result in—something incredibly disastrous? The point is that this I.D would contain your information which Bill could sell, use to threaten you, control you, and basically allow him to rule as the Supreme Leader. This theory has a lot of “eat the rich” vibes, which are really uncharacteristic of conservatism, so at least there’s character development.
While some conservatives think the vaccine has the potential to upend the world order, others have the more “rational” belief that it is merely unsafe. People have especially been skeptical about how fast the vaccines were developed and suggest that it was unsafe to get them, even though Trump supervised their development. This theory is laughable because people are more willing to believe that the Obamas eat babies before they'll take a shot from the same people and companies that have been giving them vaccines their whole life. Also, how is this different from anything people have gotten from the government or big companies? Candy, cell phones, the census, TVs, microwaves—these would also be considered dangerous. By this logic, everything that has ever been mass-produced or aided by the government could be a scheme to chip people or track them. Frankly, the people who question the safety of the vaccine also kiss their dogs on the mouth, so I don’t see what their concern is.
As fun as it is to laugh at these theories, we have to remember that none of them are real. When all is said and done, we have to acknowledge these theories for what they are: the musings of people too afraid to handle the truth and who carve out a false alternative instead. With everything that has gone on these past years, it’s understandable that people are looking for a “simpler” explanation for what is happening right now. They want somebody to blame, and something they could potentially do to save themselves. It’s much easier to blame China for trying to kill us all than admitting that our health infrastructure and government officials failed us because then we would have to do something about it. Even though it may sometimes be difficult to find and contend with the truth, we should all strive to do so because no matter how hard conservatives on Reddit try, they cannot wash away the truth. And for those who still refuse to believe the actual reality of things, I’ll gladly trade my iPhone 7 for your 11.