I’ve seen this article floating around social media this Summer, but reading it in detail recently made me want to share it, and also say something about it.
I think we might be teaching people wrong, and like many things, our current situation with a pandemic is making it abundantly obvious, while we also realize that it’s been going on for a long time. What I’m referring to is this statement from the article below:
“Studies have shown that conspiracy theories appeal to people with unmet psychological needs. They crave knowledge, desire safety and security, and need to maintain positive self-esteem. Conspiracy theories, which may sometimes be true, help explain the unknown, giving people a deep sense of satisfaction.”
I think we do a really poor job of teaching people that the world is an uncertain place, let alone how to deal with that uncertainty. It shows up in a number of ways, and this is maybe only the most recent, but it’s also become the most glaring.
The article below talks a lot about resiliency. About how the key to dealing with anxious times, and events that are uncertain, is to lean on that skill, and our confidence to get through difficult things.
Except that’s generally, not something we’ve really stressed in our educational systems, religious institutions, or personal relationships. (I won’t even start on the world as displayed in the media, we haven’t got all day.)
We don’t teach people that the world is an uncertain place, that it’s full of random events and people capable of doing random evil., therefore we don’t really prepare them for that reality. When faced with it, they will reach out for the most convenient explanation, and if that happens to be a conspiracy theory, so be it.
You see, without strong resiliency it’s actually easier, and more comforting, to believe that the world would be a fair place, if not for the lizard people who are really in control. That is more comforting than accepting that bad things happen, randomly. After all, we were told that the world IS a fair place, right? If you are good and work hard, good things will come to you. So, when they don’t, it’s easy to find someone else to blame for that.
We’ve been coddled, going back generations, Lest you think this is a rant against these young kids today, I’m solid GenX, and I grew up coddled with these same beliefs, from my Boomer parents who also were.
It’s not like bad things didn’t happen then, they did. Only instead of finding QAnon, we did things like not talking about them, victim-blame or resort to violence.
When I was a kid being abused, I wasn’t searching the world for a reason that so much abuse happens, I was afraid of anyone finding out that I was the one kid in the world being abused. Of course, we know better now, but we don’t understand why the World/Universe/God allowed it to happen any more than I did when I was 10. So, we look for an explanation.
As a society, we have, rightfully, tried to move away from doing those things, but we haven’t really gotten better at helping people build resiliency. Is it any wonder that we had an epidemic of anxiety, even before COVID-19? We’ve kind of left people with an uncertain world, in which anything can just randomly happen to anyone while leaving intact our belief systems that teach us that the world is fair.
It’s not. It’s not even close, and yes part of the reason it isn’t fair is that there are bad people in power doing bad things, but even if we could rid ourselves of that as much as possible, (and we should), the world would still be a random place where random things happen, for no good reason.
There would still be natural disasters, accidents, and yes, even abuse and crime. There would still be people with disabilities, mental and physical and there would still be victims. Because we’re human, and being human is kind of messy and random.
That’s not going anywhere. The challenge is to find the resiliency to live our lives anyway. This is where we’ve failed too many people, and where we have failed ourselves, finding comfort in false “explanations” instead of facing the hard truths.
Do you want the truth about the world? Do you want to not be a sheep and know the real truth that very few are willing to accept?
Our lives here are filled with random uncertainty. There is nothing we can rid ourselves of, no group of people, no technology, no words or “negative vibes” that will change that one fact of life.
The truly strongest of us go on anyway, as best as we can, within the randomness.
This is the knowledge, and the skills, we need to instill in people. Then maybe we wouldn’t need as many fact-checkers.
Please go read the whole thing, and consider what may be happening to people you know, or even yourself, as you find comfort from conspiracy theories.