Early in the COVID-19 game, I was listening to a podcast where a doctor was weighing in on how he was coping with this pandemic as well as giving some tips for the general public to keep themselves as healthy as possible right now.
It was late March, and we didn’t know as much as we know now. The one thing this doctor emphasized a few times was that there would be an outbreak of conspiracy theories. They had already started to show up on the internet and he commented they would cause our worry and anxiety to skyrocket.
He was right. And he was stressing that the most important thing right now is to flatten the curve and that we will figure out where this virus came from in time, but now isn’t that time what with the world facing a huge crisis. I took that nugget of information and stored it in my back pocket, knowing I might need it in order to keep my head straight through this.
All you have to do now is open your laptop or phone and see that conspiracy theories are having a moment — and it’s triggering AF, to say the least.
Time reports, “As the COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country and the world, misinformation surrounding the coronavirus is also spreading at an alarming rate.” Look no further than the recent viral video clip from a documentary called “Plandemic,” wherein discredited scientist Dr. Judy Mikovits rambled about how vaccines can damage people’s immune systems, making them more susceptible to illnesses such as COVID-19. YouTube and Facebook have since removed the video, but the damage is already done. And unfortunately, this isn’t the only out-there theory gaining traction.
Maybe you’ve heard of some. I know I’ve been sent things from a friend telling me how Bill Gates is behind all this. And that any vaccines for COVID-19 will contain microchips designed to put people under government control. (Eyeroll forever.)
There have been stories that COVID-19 was created in a lab to be used against people as a weapon. Then there are the folks who believe it was caused by 5G waves running through our networks, despite the fact that even countries that don’t have 5G networks are being affected.
It seems what people don’t realize is that conspiracy theories are triggering as fuck. We are all just trying to make it through each day. We are now teachers, trying to figure out how to work from home during a pandemic — we are dealing with sleep loss, and more stress and anxiety than ever.
The human brain can only process so much, and I know that whenever someone sends me a text about how COVID-19 originated from GMOs, or it doesn’t even really exist and it’s a ploy to scare the shit out of everyone and gain control of the “sheeple,” my mind is sent into overdrive and I feel even darker and bleaker than I did before. Not because I’m afraid that there’s any truth behind these wack theories, but because there are actually people who believe that there is. The same people who are likely out there without masks, living their lives with no regard to public health and safety, as if there’s no pandemic going on.
I’ve had to tell a few people in my life to cut the shit and leave me out of their conspiracy theory bullshit. It’s not good for my mental health — and I don’t care how convinced they are about this fake news. They should save it for their own brain to handle because the only thing they are doing is spreading hate and discontent.
Dr. Emily Vraga tells Time , “Conspiracy theories fill in blanks that science can’t right now that science doesn’t have satisfying answers for. People are frightened and alone. Misinformation gives them the illusion of control.”
Social media is obviously the epicenter of a lot of conspiracy theories, but we all have a friend or family who is hell-bent on thinking they know all about this disease even though they barely passed biology in high school. Armchair scientists are spewing bogus “information” that directly contradicts the facts put forth by educated, experienced professionals — and, unfortunately, they’re spreading like the virus itself.
I’m here to say, keep your conspiracy theories away from people. If you want to believe that we aren’t getting accurate information about the death toll, and that “car crashes kill more people than COVID-19 a year, but we aren’t afraid to drive,” go ahead.
But stop smearing it on everyone else, and stop trying to sway them to come over to your side of the swimming pool.
Our goal right now is to keep more people from dying. Our goal is to keep our mental health intact. And these theories might give you an illusion of control, but carelessly dropping them in your group text message or bringing them up in a phone conversation makes people feel like shit, for many reasons.
You literally aren’t helping anyone.
If you are feeling scared and confused (I think we all are, regardless if we admit to it or not), Vraga suggests getting your information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health and Human Services (HHS). You know, the places where actual scientific and medical professionals share their (factual) findings.
You’re allowed to have whatever theories you feel like having, but if you’re out there presenting them as though they stem from provable data, you’re part of the problem. Unless you can back up your arguments with reputable facts, shut your mouth, step away from the keyboard, and find a different hobby.