Conspiracies in the Internet

TIL something interesting about the internet – the uprising of conspiracies. With the growth with the internet comes with the growth with conspiracies – a bunch of lies and tales with no basis that gained enormous amounts of support. What fuels it and how did it come to be?

In our lecture today we learnt how conspiracies usually come from internet trolls with political agenda or with other misguided ill intent in mind. For example, we are all familiar with the Obama birth certificate hoax. Everyone seemed to believe for a moment he couldn’t be President for not providing a birth certificate that he was born in the United States. According to Thompson, Bill Clinton was conspired of killing Vince Foster (an aide to the White House). There are a lot more conspiracies surrounding outspoken political leaders and the reason is simple. Political agendas drive conspirators to spin absurd stories for people of the same agenda to grab onto.

What about the Slenderman? Or aliens and other weird conspiracies? Our prof explained how these cultural conspiracies are responses to the development of technology around us. An interesting example would be the invention of the radio. When the radio was first invented, it spooked everyone. It was the first thing to ever transmit sounds from somewhere else into a room. At times, other metal objects such as spoons or metal chairs would also transmit faint radio signals that result in a symphony playing from the roof or weird voices from the cutlery. Some people believed the spirits were communicating with them and resulted in a faction of self proclaimed spiritual people. A more recent example would be the rising amount of “satanist” or “illuminati” artists that people claim to be sent in the world. For example, in lecture we listened to clips of Led Zepplin and listened how “satanist” messages were shown when played backwards. This came to be when people would “rewind” or “mix” tapes to create different effects. Such a response to tech really require lots of creativity.

The rise of conspiracy theories came with the rise of Internet. Without the Internet, conspiracies wouldn’t spread as much. In fact, we should remember that the Internet didn’t give rise to such conspiracy theories. According to Uscinski, the internet is able to effortlessly spread conspiracies to their apex. “It is such a big factor that when Trump was elected, the internet was blamed for spreading conspiracies of Hilary Clinton.” He stated. He believed that the internet didn’t spawn conspirators so to say, but instead promote them. “Conspiracies existed before the Internet. The Internet contains authoritative information and people’s ideologies still exists,” he explained. Conspiracies would always be around even without the help of the Internet. Unfortunately the Internet has turned into a conduit for conspiracies.

There are two words that I learned in lecture today – Modernity and Modernism. In order not to confuse them, modernity refers to the actual events that took place, such as Scientific revolutions, political revolutions and industrial revolutions. Modernism is something represented in form of art, music of thinking. The Scream is a painting that depicts the artists response to modernity in society – changes and advances in technology etc. The modernity and modernism explanation can be used on the same radio station example again. The invention of the radio and discovery of radio waves is a modernity event. The way people reacted to the inventions with spiritualism is Modernism as it is a response to the event. Cultural modernism nowadays as stated by our prof would include things like the PS4 capturing ghosts on the motion capture camera. Movies such as Paranormal activity would also count as they respond to the rise of new technology in the society.

“The Internet is a very persuasive place” Our prof said when he talked about how his brother believed in an advertising gig by a movie. The Blair Witch Project invested in the Internet to create conspiracies and rumors that the events were real, to a point that most believed (our prof’s brother included) I think we can all agree with the persuasiveness of the Internet and this is dangerous. Because next time when I google something, the truth might just be made up. Who knows, maybe the moon landing really wasn’t real.

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