Conspiracy theories only propagate when people aren't willing or able to search for the truth
You know better.
The world is, most of the time, exactly as it appears. There are no giant secrets, no great conspiracies. There are good people and bad people, honest folks and thieves, and most of us try to muddle through day to day.
Yet over the past half-decade, encouraged by an ex-president deluded by ego and will to power, everyday folks — including Kansans just like us — have begun believing nonsensical things.
Barack Obama was born in Kenya. The “Deep State” was out to destroy right-thinking Americans. Ballots in Arizona were secretly printed in China. The list goes on and on, with each claim more outrageous and easily disproved than the last.
But we were especially dismayed by an especially recent example.
Shortly after the partial collapse of an oceanfront condominium in Surfside, Fla., the rumors sprang up. They claimed that John McAfee — the antivirus software entrepreneur and international fugitive — owned a condo there.
According to these tall tales, McAfee was hiding evidence against the government at Champlain Towers South Condo. And surely that explained his death by suicide in a Spanish prison June 23, awaiting extradition to the U.S. on criminal tax evasion charges,
It didn’t matter that the rumor was untrue. As USA Today reported, a Tweet offered as evidence was doctored. The rumor felt scandalous and a little exciting, and thus spread like wildfire through Instagram, Twitter, Reddit and blogs of dubious provenance.
Folks can’t be banned from falsifying tweets and starting lies on the internet. Goodness knows, if it was possible, someone would have figured out how to do so by now. But seriously, what’s the point?
If you don’t want to undermine democracy and alarm your friends and neighbors unduly (and who would want that?), please check those rumors first.
Every one of us, the great teeming mass audience of social media, has a responsibility. Before sharing a rumor or tall tale, ask yourself: Do I know this information is accurate? Does it seem too incredulous to be true? Am I being gullible?
You know better.