Once upon a time in this country people could depend on receiving reliable information from mainstream sources of media such as radio, television and print. While these sources weren’t always perfect, what they did provide the American public was a particular standard of vetting and verifying sources of information before content was distributed for public consumption. Unfortunately, today, with the advent of new technologies, information, whether verified or not, can easily permeate media streams and make its way into the consciousness of the American public. While many of us understand the “new norm” of digesting information in today’s society, and realize that much of the information that comes before us may not be reliable or creditable, what many of us don’t expect is for leaders and institutions to purposely disseminate information they know to be false or misleading. However, today, we find ourselves living in an age of disinformation in this country where we are constantly being force-fed lies and persuaded to believe conspiracy theories. Welcome to the American age of conspiracy!
During the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, Michael Flynn, then Donald Trump’s military campaign advisor, retweeted a story which accused the Clinton campaign of running a child molestation ring out of the basement of a local DC pizza restaurant. The story would later become known as “pizzagate” and would eventually culminate into an act of violence when a 29 year old man named Edgar Maddison Welch entered the DC pizza restaurant with an assault rifle demanding to be taken into the basement so he could free the children being held captive. Of course, there were no children being held captive and no molestation ring. The entire story was a complete lie and would later result in Welch being sentenced to 4 years in prison. While many may feel that Welch’s actions were the most disturbing part about this story, I personally believe that actions of the Trump campaign allowing a top advisor to purposely disseminate a false story which essentially placed a stamp of approval on a conspiracy theory was by far the lowest part of this story.
Then in July of 2016, a Democratic National Committee employee, Seth Rich, was killed in a botched robbery on the streets of Washington, DC. Immediately conspiracy theories started to surface and claimed that Rich was actually killed because he was behind the leaked DNC emails – which in reality was perpetrated by Russian hackers. The story was propagated by a wealthy Trump campaign supporter, Ed Butowsky, who offered to pay investigative reporter Malia Zimmerman to help develop the story. The story ran constantly on Fox News and host Sean Hennity aired non-stop segments on his show bolstering the false claims. Eventually Fox News would be forced to retract the story and a lawsuit was filed against Zimmerman claiming that she fabricated comments from one of her sources. Like with the pizzagate story, the most disturbing part of this conspiracy theory was not the story itself, but those in power who decided to use this lie to advance their own political agendas. Not only is false information being disseminated to advance political agendas, but there are those in society who are using this false information for more deceptive purposes.
During his campaign for President, Donald Trump conducted an interview with Alex Jones of InfoWars. Throughout the interview Trump praised Jones for his commentary and told Jones that, “your reputation is amazing”. Really? What part of Jones’s reputation can be considered amazing? Is it his belief that the government is putting mind-control chemicals in our water supply, that the government was involved in the Sandy Hook shooting and 9/11, or that demonic satanist are plotting a new world order to take over our world? The idea that an American presidential candidate would align himself with such a person is just simply unbelievable, however, this unholy alliance is indicative of the conspiracy culture which has gripped American society these days. I personally don’t believe that Donald Trump endorses all the conspiracy theories of Alex Jones. But what I do believe is that Donald Trump was so desperate to become president that he decided to sale-his-soul to joined forces with Jones in order to win. InfoWars would go on to endorse Trump for President and would unofficially trademark the “Hillary for Prison” slogan which was a staple at Trump rallies.
What we should be asking ourselves is, how far can this go? When we now live in a world where major news outlets like Fox News report conspiracy theories like creditable news stories or when presidential campaigns assist in disseminating known lies, we have to ask ourselves, where could this conspiracy culture eventually take us? Each day we are bombarded with countless amounts of information. In most cases, we believe that most information is credible because of where the information is coming from. So if I’m watching the History Channel, I would automatically assume that the information I pick up from watching an episode of Ancient Aliens is true. After all, they wouldn’t air information which wasn’t true and verified. If you believe that, you would be mistaken! The History Channel, once a source for education and enlightenment, has now turned into conspiracy theory central where you are more likely to find stories about space colonies on the dark side of the moon or the alien reptilian race which is secretly controlling our world.
We have to understand that in today’s society the obligation is on us individually to use our own logic and intellect to decipher the truth vs. lies. We can no longer depend on other people to verify information for us, we have become our own gatekeepers of information. Whether we allow ourselves to believe lies or be deceived is completely depended upon our willingness to educate ourselves… or not. Throughout the course of human history there have always been people who have sought to use information as a means of control. Nazi leader Joseph Goebbles once said, “the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it”. Unfortunately, for many lost souls in our country today this statement has proven to be true. But for others, we continue to walk the path of enlightenment and stand firm against forces which seek to control us with lies. Get educated and free your mind!