More people believe in conspiracy theories than ever before. Many of us disagree with the official account of the Kennedy assassination, for example.* As soon as the Warren Commission report was published, tin-foil hat trouble began.* And since then conspiracy theorizing has grown into an immense multimedia cottage industry. Social media has amplified an innocent 20th-century pastime into a 21st-century mental virus that has become an obsession for too many of us. We love attempting to solve mysteries and seek closure. These two attributes of our collective curiosity can lead us into the realms of inventive fantasy and away from demonstrable reality. Companies like YouTube and Facebook can't seem to quit their addiction to conspiracy theory clickbait despite their claims to the contrary.*
Conspiracy theories are no longer limited to 20th-century espionage paradigms. The post 9/11 multimedia world contains the concept of fake news.* This idea is a game-changer and leads some of us to believe that President John F. Kennedy's assassination was a hoax.* Never mind the motive for such an inventive display of military psychological operational theater.* If somehow, magically, there is any truth to any of these ideas, armchair investigators are in no position to verify their speculation. None of us possesses a time machine, nor can any of us forensically investigate anything related to the Kennedy assassination, for instance. Some of us insist on turning imaginative speculation into mic-dropping demonstrable proof. Such leaps of logic and faith can lead to realms of the unreal.*
Tin-foil hat content is freely available online all the time.*
The conspiracy theory cottage industry has been amplified by 21st-century technology, spreading an addictive truther mental cancer, impacting even the workplace.* 20th-century cottage industry speculation became a 21st-century amplified schizophrenic revelation.*
It’s one thing watching Geraldo Rivera’s late show, Good Night America, in the middle of the night back in 1975 when guests, the comedian, and activist David Gregory and conspiracy theory author, Robert Groden showed the late-night television-watching audience the Zapruder film.* This was the first time the public ever got to see this famous home movie. The only other time the public was made privy to the footage was when Life Magazine published frames from it a mere seven days after JFK’s assassination.* It’s another thing to propagate paranoid delusions via social media.
The transition from world wide web to social media would change everything.
Today it might seem hard to believe, but there was a time when the television stopped broadcasting content. The national anthem used to signify the end of the broadcasting day.* By the time we could watch Larry King’s 1991 interview with director Oliver Stone, about his successful film, the Warner Brothers distributed JFK, television stopped signing off. The 24-hour cable news and television programming cycle would get us accustomed to endless broadcasting. Now it’s all online all the time, available globally. You can do an internet search for the Oliver Stone film and learn all about how he promoted the conspiracy theory that multiple shooters were involved with the Kennedy Assassination.* Oliver Stone pushes the idea that elements of the government were responsible for the death of President John F. Kennedy, contradicting the official account, the Warren Commission Report.*
It’s one thing to question authority. It’s another to propagate paranoid concerns about the imagined Deep State,* as Oliver Stone would do. You’d watch an interview with this director once, and that would be that. Now you can rewatch multiple videos about the Kennedy assassination over and over again. Mainstream media capitalizes on the interest the public has in conspiracy theories in general and this mother of all conspiracy theorizing specifically. Like the conspiracy theorist, the mainstream media does not consider the effects that conspiracy theories could have on the workplace. This impact is now amplified by the internet, as social media means truthers have access to a worldwide audience. The internet becomes the medium for contagious, unproductive behavior that could be problematic for those of us with mental health issues.**
Social media propagated conspiracy theories are different from their 20th-century counterparts. Many of us are obsessed with seeing patterns that do not exist. Gematria and numerology are part of modern conspiracy theory mythology.* Seeing patterns in numbers is not research. But many conspiracy theory content creators engage in this useless endeavor. Magical reasoning appears to be ironically replacing scientific thinking.* Those of us with mental health issues might be at risk. Social media amplifies everything. This danger is real. Social media appears to have a role in spreading schizophrenia.*
Is this the kind of world we wish to leave to our children?