Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?
Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"
It's a marvel, truly.
Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.
Can we please get off this timeline of insanity?
Thankfully, there are voices of reason out there. Pretty much any rumor you hear or see gets fact checked pretty quickly, so unless you're so far gone that you think every single fact checking website is "in on it," it's not too hard to find the truth.
And sometimes, the truth comes in brief, refreshing, not-unattractive packages.
A firefighter who goes by the TikTok handle @wildlandmike shared a quick response video to a young woman's ridiculous conspiracy-laden video about the Western fires. His delivery is perfect, and Twitter users are going gaga over it.
Firefighters: literally fight fire Also firefighters: fighting conspiracy theories on TikTok https://t.co/Mf97S0tNrS— Cres (@Cres) 1600295218.0
It doesn't hurt that Wildland Mike fits the "hot firefighter" stereotype, and many of the responses were...well...thirsty. (As a colleague asked this morning, "Do they not let ugly people become firefighters or something?") Good-looking experts spewing facts is a double whammy of attractiveness in the disinformation age. It is what it is.
But the comments also highlighted the unfortunate fact that this girl making the conspiracy video has an actual reach.
@cres_guez Wait... is she trying to say she doesn’t believe there actually are fires? Like we just made them up bec… https://t.co/NXjkAdUg81— Emily Kralj (@Emily Kralj) 1600303871.0
@cres_guez She’s from my hometown 😅 she’s also posted George Floyd conspiracies. All of her followers are children.… https://t.co/faYHPddCjz— Shelby (@Shelby) 1600346688.0
Just for funsies, I looked her up on TikTok. She has 2.6 million followers, SO THAT'S NEAT. Most of her content doesn't appear to be this off the wall crazy, which actually makes it worse. Kids are going to follow her to see her talk about her dog or her having lived in an amusement park and then get hit with a conspiracy theory video. It's also entirely possible that she makes conspiracy theory videos for a joke or as satire or something, but DON'T YOU KNOW SATIRE IS DEAD AND PEOPLE BELIEVE BATSH*T CRAZY THINGS IN 2020, @cierra_mistt???
Seriously, is there some kind of humanity reset button somewhere? Has anyone looked for one in earnest? Maybe it's hidden under the edge of Flat Earth or on the belly button of Sasquatch or something.
At any rate, more firefighters fighting fiction with facts, please. It's the content we all need right now.
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