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Conspiracy Theories: Clickbait or a Threat to Society?

Have they come too far?

By Mindsmatter.Published about a year ago 5 min read
Conspiracy Theories: Clickbait or a Threat to Society?
Photo by Tom Radetzki on Unsplash

Watching conspiracy theories videos on YouTube is very entertaining and all, although it is very easy to start with videos of UFO sightings and without realizing it it’s just turned 2 AM and you’re watching undeniable proof that Mark Zuckerberg is an alien cyborg sent to earth to control and spy on us through Facebook. Luckily, for most of us, we forget all about it when we close the tab and go to sleep, but there are a lot of people who do not see these theories as science fiction stories but as reality. Crazy right?

Some of these groups of people have gained a lot of popularity and exposure, such as Flat Earthers, who are even verified on Twitter. “If the Earth is round, explain that verification symbol.” Oh, the logic.

Conspiracy theories have gone from urban legends to the mainstream press and the public eye real quick. Remember the famous Pizzagate? The evergreen Illuminati and sadly, even Holocaust deniers.

If Someone Really Landed On The Moon Why Isn’t There A Starbucks There?

If it’s so obvious that these stories are false, why do so many people believe them? Well, researchers have studied this in recent years. These studies have revealed that a large percentage of the population believes in at least one conspiracy theory. Fun fact: none of the people who participated in this study wore tinfoil hats on their heads.

Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, conspiracy theories, far from being forgotten, have become much more popular. From the origin of the virus to the participation of the great governments of the world in its spread, the theories born in recent months are seemingly endless and more and more people believe them. A survey revealed that one in three Americans believe that the virus was created in a laboratory and that large health organizations around the world have exaggerated the data on infections and deaths due to this disease.

You may be thinking, “Well at the end of the day conspiracy theories are just that, theories. What’s wrong with them?” Well, it’s all fun and games until someone without a face mask coughs all over you. The BBC wrote an article about the real damage that Covid conspiracies gave caused, the heads up, people lost their lives.

Conspiracy Theories Or The Perfect Click Bait?

Which of these two paragraphs catches your eye the most and gets your finger itching to click?

“COVID-19 is a new disease, and like any other virus it is very complex and it takes time to understand it better and although mistakes have been made along the way because although scientists are very capable people, they are not perfect…”


“Is the Chinese Virus a new biological weapon created by the government of China as a new method of world control for the elites to subdue the masses? SEE PROOF BELOW!”

I’m not going to lie to you, if there was a new Netflix docu-series with the premise of the second headline, I would binge-watch it in one night without a second thought. Then I would watch an episode of Friends to sleep peacefully.

The truth is, conspiracy theories are the perfect clickbait, media has learned this very quickly and have been exploiting this even more shamelessly in recent months to get more views. On the other hand, politicians have begun to use these premises in their speeches and campaigns to discredit other rival parties and make themselves look like billions and billions of dollars. You may remember when Donald Trump suggested that the only person capable of proving that Barack Obama was born in Kenya died in a mysterious plane crash, and this happened years before his candidacy for president.

Finding Meaning Where There Seems To Be None

We already know that these theories have been made mainstream by the media and politicians but this does not answer the question of why people believe them. Well, psychologists have found the reasons and what’s apparent is that there is a certain profile type of people who tend to be more receptive to these conspiracies.

These stories can have a relief effect in crises when it is difficult for us to understand why such bad things can happen to us. In the aftermath of the 9–11 attack, tens of thousands of people were devastated by the loss of family and loved ones, and for many, believing that it was all Bush’s inside job was easier to accept than the idea of ​​a terrorist attack.

Conspiracy theories create a sense of control, they find meaning when there seems to be none. If you discover that a family member has a fatal disease, it is easier to believe that it is because pharmaceutical companies make us sick to sell us treatments than because this is how the world works, people get sick.

We live in a time when it is normal to be afraid. If I tell you that there is an invisible threat out there that can kill your family, it would be normal for you to live in fear. For this reason, headlines such as “the virus is a lie” or “the cure is to drink a lot of water” function as a defense mechanism against that fear.

So the next time you run into someone who believes in QAnon and that we are being controlled by the deep state, try to be a little more empathetic and understand that maybe it is their way of dealing with this crazy crazy world.

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About the Creator


Mindsmatter is written by Bola Kwame, Jack Graves and Emma Buryd.

De-stigmatizing mental illness one day at a time.

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