Hey, as a professional psychic I’m familiar with my character + profession being dismissed + ridiculed by science, academia, law + the medical establishment.
This is why I fully understand how important it is to remain curious about ‘accepted norms and societal truths’.
To question and not to take all things at face value.
However, when personal difficulties turn chronic + seemingly unsolvable, conspiracy theories – those that offer a simple explanation, a common enemy and a glimmer of hope – become highly seductive.
Certain factors make people more vulnerable:
- Social isolation
- Difficult economic circumstances
- Poor mental health.
If you combine any of those with a lack of purpose, conspiracy theories become attractive as a one-size-fits-all solution to powerlessness.
Add the drip, drip, drip of social media + an unchecked news feed algorithm and you have recipe for alienation + radicalisation.
When it happens with friends, family + acquaintances, it’s like watching someone succumb to an addiction.
It can be painful for everyone concerned.
Conspiracy Theory vs Reality
The problem is that, often, there’s a grain of truth in many of these ‘conspiracy theory’ ideas.
They tap into something that many of us are feeling on a deeper level.
A sense of injustice, inequality and disillusionment with political systems.
Yet, many conspiracy theories are inflated by biased personal opinions, here-say, rumor and flimsy evidence.
Their mass appeal is due to a psychological phenomenon known as ‘splitting’.
Conspiracy Theories and ‘Splitting’
Splitting is whereby the primitive part of our brain breaks complexity down into a black and white solution.
This = all good.
That = all bad.
You can see it played out and released in football matches, sports and most recently the last US election or UK Brexit vote.
Unfortunately, the truth is usually much more complex + overwhelming, and global problems less easy to resolve, individually or collectively.
Conspiracy theories unite people against a common enemy (the ‘all bad’). They give people a sense of belonging, purpose, identity and psychological relief.
They can boost self-esteem. The ego is reassured by knowing ‘the secret’ and being part of a possible solution (the ‘all good’).
Unfortunately, in 2020, I lost as many people to conspiracy theories as I did to Covid 19.
Conspiracy Theory Addiction Consequences
The consequences for our societies became especially clear in January 2021, evidenced by the storming of the Capitol in the US.
Yet, the consequences for individuals can be equally devastating:
- increased economic hardship as they ‘opt-out’,
- mental + emotional deterioration,
- indifference about everyday matters +
- a complete lack of motivation to look at, seek help for or otherwise deal with, their own ‘real world’ problems. Mundane matter that affect our security: housing, work, financial, legal, physical health.
Conspiracy theories that start as a distraction can become all-consuming. They can pull you down rabbit holes into catacalysmic story-scapes of mythic villains and heroes, better than any book or movie.
These plots and sub-plots demand more and more of your time + attention, in order to keep abreast of the latest opinions + developments online.
The latter is carefully curated and served to you through digital media, re-enforcing your beliefs until a theory becomes your religion.
You feel inclined to disconnect from anyone who doesn’t ‘believe’ or share your vision.
RECOVERY GUIDELINES + TIPS:
If you or anyone you know have fallen down the conspiracy rabbit-hole, it can help to consider the following:
Review if you were experiencing any of the following risk factors at the time the theory took hold:
- Isolation / alienation
- Economic difficulty
- Lack of professional fulfillment in work
- Lack of purpose / direction
- Lack of emotional support system
- Low quality of life
- Depression or anxiety
Watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix, so you understand the context and wider forces at play.
Check your sources: is a ‘fact’ scientifically validated or reported by a trusted academic / research-based source?
Avoid the cult of personality + ‘opinion media’. Opinions are cheap – just because someone confidently gobs-off on YouTube or Facebook, it doesn’t mean they have any greater access to truth.
If you feel low, anxious or isolated, get support – access low cost therapy or talk to someone who is a good listener.
Go on a media detox – if the prospect of a week or two without social media or your favourite news channel seems tough, then consider whether that’s a sign of an early stage addiction [*]
Reach out and ask for help or more contact with loved ones. Make this a Facetime, Skype or Zoom virual coffee if meeting up in person is impossible.
To help family members or friends who are at risk, you need to access whether to intervene or offer empathic support from a distance. Listening with empathy can help people feel less alone.
Conspiracy Theory Chart by Abbie Richards
This brilliant graphic – The Conspiracy Chart from Abbie Richards – helps highlight the slippery slope and brings more awareness.
Personally, I’m on the speculation line. I’m open to the idea of UFOs and NSA mass surveillance, for example. These notions seem more like common sense and are not particularly wild or outlandish.
Yet, a ‘global warming hoax’ or ‘Reptilian Overlords’ is a stretch too far.
Where are you on the Conspiracy Theory Chart?
[* This is possible despite the daily news cycle of COVID19.]
Article copyright Amy Garner 2021. See my copyright notice and disclaimer.
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