Are birds real? Are the leftists the ones denying reality?
A perfect gift for the conspiracy theorist in your life who has absorbed all the others, from 9/11 to QAnon to 5G to the stolen election and the Covid hoax, but needs more. Let them know about this: birds aren’t real! They’re all government drones, meant to take over your life! Yes, all of them!
NYT, 9 Dec 2021: Birds Aren’t Real, or Are They? Inside a Gen Z Conspiracy Theory, subtitled, “Peter McIndoe, the 23-year-old creator of the viral Birds Aren’t Real movement, is ready to reveal what the effort is really about.”
With that big photo above. This is a “Gen Z-fueled conspiracy theory, which posits that birds don’t exist and are really drone replicas installed by the U.S. government to spy on Americans. Hundreds of thousands of young people have joined the movement, wearing Birds Aren’t Real T-shirts, swarming rallies and spreading the slogan.”
Do these kids believe the conspiracy theory? Or understand that’s all just a meta-conspiracy joke? Apparently they do the latter.”
It might smack of QAnon, the conspiracy theory that the world is controlled by an elite cabal of child-trafficking Democrats. Except that the creator of Birds Aren’t Real and the movement’s followers are in on a joke: They know that birds are, in fact, real and that their theory is made up.
What Birds Aren’t Real truly is, they say, is a parody social movement with a purpose. In a post-truth world dominated by online conspiracy theories, young people have coalesced around the effort to thumb their nose at, fight and poke fun at misinformation. It’s Gen Z’s attempt to upend the rabbit hole with absurdism.
This is consistent with the data that show adherents of most conspiracy theories are old people. Especially old white men.
(I’m an old white man; is my conspiracy theory that all these other people involved in conspiracy theories actually perceive the truth? Perhaps. How is one to know? We are in PKD territory here. But no. There is no parallel here.)
The article gets to the core of its subtitle here. It’s about “Peter McIndoe, 23, a floppy-haired college dropout in Memphis who created Birds Aren’t Real on a whim in 2017.” He pretended the conspiracy theory was real, but is now ready to come out.
Mr. McIndoe, too, marinated in conspiracies. For his first 18 years, he grew up in a deeply conservative and religious community with seven siblings outside Cincinnati, then in rural Arkansas. He was home-schooled, taught that “evolution was a massive brainwashing plan by the Democrats and Obama was the Antichrist,” he said.
He read books like “Remote Control,” about what it said were hidden anti-Christianity messages from Hollywood. In high school, social media offered a gateway to mainstream culture. Mr. McIndoe began watching Philip DeFranco and other popular YouTubers who talked about current events and pop culture, and went on Reddit to find new viewpoints.
“I was raised by the internet, because that’s where I ended up finding a lot of my actual real-world education, through documentaries and YouTube,” Mr. McIndoe said. “My whole understanding of the world was formed by the internet.”
Yikes. Homeschooling. The internet.
Mr. Gaydos added, “If anyone believes birds aren’t real, we’re the last of their concerns, because then there’s probably no conspiracy they don’t believe.”
This recalls my own aphorism, stated here a while back, that there is no work of art so highly regarded that someone, somewhere, will not hate it and think it a piece of trash; and vice versa (see: Amazon reviews). Let me supplement this: There is no scientific conclusion — that the world is round, that bacteria and viruses cause disease, that the universe is 4.5 billion years old, that life has evolved — that many people will not deny it. And there is no conspiracy theory so outlandish that some people will not buy into it.
Next. This didn’t make the top tier news sites, but I did see this on a couple, shall we say, partisan sites. It seems to be true enough, and there’s a point to be made.
Tammy Bruce, auditioning for the “Fox News Primetime” show, went “full-force far-right extremist to get the job.”
But on Thursday night for seven minutes and 13 seconds Bruce was on fire, berating the left and Democrats – blaming them for just about everything by using everything that’s wrong with the right. It was an example of epic projection.
According to Bruce, the left “is a cult in a never-ending fight with reality, hell-bent on making the world bend to their lies, all while trying to silence and destroy anything and anyone who dares to question the orthodoxy.”
Sound familiar? Like the right wing of America, who refuse to accept the reality of the coronavirus pandemic, the fact that vaccines, masks, and social distancing work? Refuse to accept that climate change is real and massive voter fraud is not?
Bruce actually uses the word “cult” eleven times in seven minutes.
The AlterNet piece calls this “projection,” but what does that word actually mean? In this case I have two thoughts. I think the notion of “projection,” at least in this political way, is that people who are used to thinking about the world, and interacting with the world, in certain specific ways, assume that everyone else, including their opponents, do so too in exactly the same ways. Thus T****, familiar with demanding loyalty from his associates, and ignoring the law and the traditions of high office, assume that the Democrats work the same way, and so is always accusing the Democrats of, say, voter fraud. (Whereas in fact the very few cases of voter fraud, e.g. a man using his deceased wife’s ballot to vote twice, have all turned out to be by Republicans.)
My second thought is the much broader one about different people’s conceptions of reality. The commentator accuses the left as being “in a never-ending fight with reality.” What reality is that? People really do perceive reality in different manners, especially given ideological and religious backgrounds. What reality is hers? I’m scared to think; presumably not one of science and learning to understand the real world, as opposed to allegiance with her tribe.
Potsticker is here on my desk, purring and walking back and forth across my keyboard. Getting him to settle down.
Today a typical day, in terms of attending my cardiac therapy at 1:30pm. After that I did a bit of xmas shopping, in Montclair Village. Does my partner ever read this blog? I don’t think so; at most I’ve gathered he glances at it enough to know that I’m posting daily, and resents that instead I don’t spend more time with him (on the sofa, watching TV). But just in case, I won’t mention what I shopped for.
This morning I worked more on my Reviews pages, adding two more nonfiction book summaries to the nonfiction page at http://www.markrkelly.com/Blog/bibliographies-and-reviews/nf/ — books by Carl Sagan (Varieties) and Thomas Paine.
And my second project work today was to begin updating my sfadb.com site with anthology info, in preparation for updating and expanding the rankings on sfadb, which I should be able to finish in the next month or so.
The most significant non-event today: Y did not go to work. He’s gone to work at least once a week for nearly two years. He did some telecons and phone calls today, but did not leave the house. He’s always here. This was expected to happen about now anyway; his facility is about to shut down, by early January, and my mid-December he’d told me they would be turning in their laptops, etc. So we are here.
On the plus side, Y has updated his resume and is actively looking for a new job, if only a consulting job part-time.
The bottom line here is that, for years now, I’ve had difficulty imagining my life in which I am never alone, never have privacy, because my partner is here every day all day and keeps watching over me. I suppose given my health condition, I should appreciate that. Yet there are so many things I’d like to do with the rest of my life — especially reading books! — that Y objects to.