#FocusDisruption: How Conspiracy Theories Are Destroying Us

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Published January 17, 2022
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The Montclarion
Anaïs St Amant | The Montclarion

#FocusDisruption is a collaboration of all the media outlets within Montclair State’s School of Communication and Media. Our goal is to report stories that highlight the effects or disruption of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We will be focusing on five main points that are experiencing the changes of a post-pandemic world: education, misinformation, the workplace, climate change and mental health.

Working closely with people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has given me important life lessons. One of those lessons is that some adults believe oppression is wearing a thin piece of fabric over your mouth and nose to prevent spreading a deadly virus.

It never made much sense to me when I overheard these sentiments or had them said to me, but it did make me quite angry.

Not only do some equate mask mandates with oppression, but they also claim the vaccine has a microchip in it so the government can track citizens. I have watched those same people use their iPhones with a GPS installed.

Clearly, conspiracy theories and outrage against the safety measures in place to combat COVID-19 make virtually no sense.

I was in eighth grade when former President Donald Trump was elected. Before him, Barack Obama was in office but I never really heard critiques or criticisms of him because I was only a child. Since my political awareness started with Trump, I never knew if people acted like this before him.

I went from knowing almost nothing to witnessing fury from the political right as they indoctrinated themselves into illogical conspiracies, like John F. Kennedy Jr. being alive and running for office.

The rise of QAnon has even left families broken apart as its followers are too far gone from reality to function normally anymore.

While I do not think I can pinpoint the exact cause of the ignorance and denial from some citizens, I think I can finally understand what contributed to it: fear. When you don’t have access to correct and reliable information to begin with, it makes you more likely to believe the lies are true.

When people are afraid, they are most susceptible to lies and deceit. People are already fearful of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. But believing vaccines are evil and the disease isn’t that bad would make the whole situation more comforting to them.

These are people who have feared the famous and those in government for years due to conspiracy movements like QAnon. Now, they can’t bring themselves to fear a ravaging virus. After all, ignorance is bliss.

What can we do to pull people out of the conspiracy rabbit hole?

Surely, attacking them and fighting them will only enforce their beliefs. What we need to do is sympathize a bit and help them understand. Shoving data and facts down people’s throats won’t do any good if the person is completely in the dark.

Instead, we must address people’s concerns and fears, simply explain the virus and vaccine and combat misinformation by promoting credible resources to those who haven’t found access to them.

I understand I am very lucky to have a father who is very intelligent, aware and works for the government, so I always have accessible and reliable information. I also understand not every kid grows up with that same luxury of being informed.

It took me a long time to sympathize with those who don’t understand the truth, but I have, and it makes me sad for them. It’s awful to be so consumed by fear that you would refuse to receive a vaccine, just to die at the hands of the same virus the vaccine prevents.

As a college freshman, I don’t know how to solve a worldwide pandemic. I do believe that we can at least fight back by helping those who believe their freedom is being demolished by a piece of fabric or that vaccines are harmful.

If the people in charge tried new tactics to spread the truth and reverse the effects of the cult mentality that led to their hysteria, we might have a chance.

For the future of humanity, remember this one thing: Joe Rogan did not attend a day of medical school, but the doctors telling you to get the vaccine did.

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