BY: MADISON HAYES
Have you ever made up an answer for a question that didn’t have one? Or maybe stumbled across something that made you question everything you previously thought you knew?
Well, if that’s the case, you might just be a conspiracy theorist in the making.
Over the recent years, with all the inexplicable tragedies and atrocities the world has been facing, a new trend has surfaced on the internet, one that tries to provide answers to scenarios you can’t wrap your head around.
Conspiracy theories are an explanation of an event or situation that evokes an unwarranted conspiracy. They challenge previous prevailing understandings of history and it’s the latest fad on the internet.
Social media platforms, like Youtube, have seriously hyped up these theories with millions of videos becoming easily accessible to a wide range of viewers.
Youtuber Shane Dawson, dubbed the YouTube king of conspiracies, broadcasts such videos weekly to his millions of subscribers.
“I’ve been doing conspiracy theory videos for a long time,” Dawson commented in one of his recent videos. “Now they’re trendy, I didn’t start because of that. I’ve been watching conspiracy documentaries since I was 10. I just love conspiracy theories so much, so genuinely.”
With articles and videos ready at the touch of a button, it’s no wonder people are so immersed in this trend.
Tv shows like “The X-Files,” and the Netflix original “Black Mirror,” whose plots focus mainly on the unknown, have made the subject of such conspiracies very mainstream, but also, creating theories is a fundamental part of being human.
“People like to delve into the unknown and find their own answers,” says Zach Engel, a senior at Shenendehowa and a self-proclaimed conspiracy theorist. “I think some people use it as a coping mechanism too.”
So why is this trend so fascinating to average, everyday people?
Studies have found an apparent link to those who believe in such theories and education, as well as income.
A survey showed that about 42 percent of people without a high school education believe in at least one conspiracy theory, compared to 23 percent of people who have a postgraduate degree.
A 2017 study showed a household income average of $47,193 among people who were inclined to believe in conspiracy theories and $63,824 among those who weren’t.
There also seems to be a spike in theorizing after a disaster or a tragedy occurs that leaves people so shaken that they need something to explain it.
People tend to blame things they lack on anonymous forces, but sometimes they’re used to make more sense of the world. Conspiracies help people to cope with or make sense of a tragedy.
For example, after the assassination of President Kennedy, Mafia and CIA theories popped up, as opposed to accepting a lone gunman killed him.
More recently, people theorized that the Las Vegas shooting was staged by the government. More than likely in an effort to assure themselves something so gruesome couldn’t have really occurred so randomly.
The internet is also a huge culprit in this phenomenon, making these theories so readily available to almost anyone.
“I mainly get my information regarding conspiracy theories from the internet. I just kind of come across them,” says Jaycen Tedesco, another senior at Shenendehowa.
Most of these theories are essentially harmless and some you could even say amusing.
“I really don’t believe the one about Avril Lavigne being replaced with a government clone, because clones aren’t humanly possible.” said Engel. “Also, why would they choose Avril Lavigne?”
However, with the more lighthearted side of things, comes a darker, more twisted perspective.
“I believe the one about the government using celebrity scandals to distract us from actual disasters and tragedies, because they always seem to happen around the same time. It’s not so far-fetched if you really think about it,” Tedesco said.
Conspiracy theories have become the latest hot topic on the internet and almost everyone has at least talked about one, even if they’re unaware of it.
Conspiracy theories are all around us, so are you careful about what you believe?