Kin Lane

Everything is a Conspiracy

I have been thinking a lot about what trauma does to us as human beings since the kid overdosed in May. Life can wear you down in the most normal of circumstances, leaving you distrustful of the world around you, but when the death of a parent leaves a meteor sized crater in your existence, I am guessing it is pretty difficult to learn to trust in much. I know other people who have lost one or more of their parents while growing up, and every one of them has serious trust issues with other people and institutions. I don’t think people have to experience parent dying levels of trauma to push them to distrust the world, and I think that just about any sustained amount of physical and mental trauma can lead to someone being susceptible to thinking the world is always out to get them, actively working against them, leaving them in a state where death and other cataclysmic events are the logical way out. Making conspiracy theories very comforting, and checking out of the world, and embracing perpetual apocalyptic views something that is very soothing. The kid wasn’t a huge conspiracy theorist, but he did have a strong belief that life as we know it wasn’t livable, something I see in other people I know who have suffered similar trauma, leaving them unable to truly live because life as we know it just isn’t meant for them, and there is always an alternative track playing in the back of their minds reminding them that the world just wasn’t designed for them.

I watched the Frontline special on Alex Jones the other night, and for the most part I just see him as greedily capitalizing on people’s distrust of the world around them, but then during his deposition in the Sandy Hook case he admits that he sees everything as a conspiracy. He doesn’t trust that anything is what it is purported to be. Always pushing him into this “other” narrative, always questioning the design of our shared reality, always believing in an alternative track playing in the back of his mind. After watching this I thought back to the time in my life where I didn’t trust anything that was happening. Everything was against me. I was always outside of what was happening in the world. It just wasn’t designed for me. Something that allowed me to become very susceptible to alternate narratives. Granted at the time I was also doing a lot of drugs, but I would say that I was also beat down by a lifetime of trauma, burdened with undiagnosed and untreated mental illness, leaving me very distrustful of government, news, universities, corporations, and anything that didn’t fit with the narrative playing in my head. There wasn’t anything for me when it came to leading a “normal” life, getting a job, and buying into the shared narrative we call reality. Aliens, spirits, conspiracies and other modern fairy tales were way more appealing as answers to the challenges I faced in my information starved environment. I trusted nobody, and this made for a fertile environment for facts to become slippery and bendable, and for dark shadows to emerge in my world when it came to what was going on behind the scenes in government, corporations, and the institutions of power that make our world go around.

In this information starved world you feel like you are always doing the hard work to seek out the alternative narrative, when in reality all you are doing is just tuning into the frequencies of other like minded individuals, which is something that leaves you open to some pretty dark views of the past, present, and future. You feel informed. You feel like you have all the answers. You are perpetually validated in a world that never validates your people. There is 100% truth and meaning in everything you do. You have bent the rules so that you are always right. You’ve bent the world to fit you, rather than you changing to fit into the world. That person that just drove by our house in a car is part of some surveillance dragnet. That jobs report from the labor department is fabricated. News outlets can’t be trusted. That mass shooting that just happened was a false flag. You’ve done all the work to connect the dots. You have all the sources, where the people who challenge you are all receiving information from the people behind the conspiracy. You can dismiss anything you don’t agree with. That is real power. That is the real truth. The world has always been out to get you, and now you have the upper hand. You are always days, months, or some other precise date away from the truth being revealed, proving you are right. Yet you have no ability to ever reconcile things once the date has passed. You don’t have to. This isn’t about reality. This is only about how you see the world. This isn’t a shared reality, or a shared experience, it is only about you being validated. Everything is a conspiracy. It is the one thing you are 100% right about, despite the amount of evidence against you. You are always right. There is no being wrong.

Trauma changes us forever. However it is something we can heal from if we choose to. Life beats us down with a seemingly endless barrage of events, leaving us unable to ever heal and recover. And because we’ve isolated ourselves, and our communities, we don’t have access to the healthcare, education, and information we need to dig out of our holes. We just learn to adapt. Not trusting becomes what we do. It becomes the legacy we pass down to your children. Helping ensure it will be difficult for anyone in our family to escape or evolve. Which just makes things harder for us, and pushes us to just double down on what soothes and comforts us. Doing the hard work to actually be informed is way more difficult than just embracing the conspiracy theories. It is easier to discredit those who challenge us than it is to actually build a real argument. It becomes easier to let people you care about leave you behind, than it is to look in the mirror and question anything. Trusting is hard. It is even harder if we’ve suffered from major trauma at some point in our life. I don’t think believing in conspiracy theories is anything new, but I do think the way people feel connected and validated over the Internet when it comes to conspiracy theories is new. I think that the ability for the World Wide Web to be the one true source for folks who are in pain is unprecedented. I don’t think that by itself this is too damaging, but once you bundle it with making money from advertising as Facebook and Twitter have, and with the endless possibilities for manipulation and exploitation like the conservative and authoritarian interests have, you have the makings of a pretty dangerous cocktail. Which ultimately will end up hurting more people, moving them further into the rich world where conspiracy theories can take root and spread, allowing conspirac theories to become more nourishing than actually living life.