Recently, after a particularly panicky spell of getting duped by bad information on the internet, I was explaining to a friend of mine the almost physical discomfort of being in the unknown when the stakes are high. The stakes in this case are the viable futures for our planet, and I have an incredibly huge emotional investment in things continuing on, because, you know, I think our little blue green earth is pretty nifty. I am attached to things turning out in a certain way (namely, not turning our planet into a charred rock, stripped of all ability to support life) so I get pretty upset when I think someone just threw the switch. Whether its 300 daily tons of radioactive sea water pouring into the pacific or flammable tap water, I jump on that information like its prey I’ve been stalking. I dissect it, devour it, regurgitate it and pummel it within an inch of its life until I can suss out just which side I can land on. Can I rest on the side of “Not dead yet” or “Final nail in the coffin”? In between those two sides is a razor blade and sometimes folks, staying in the unknown feels like that blade is going right up my backside. I’d really like a more comfortable chair.
Funny thing is, we’re all in the same chair…or perhaps I should say boat. I have spoken before of the way hopefulness and devastation seem to be in a neck to neck race. On the one hand, you have Paul Stamets, the world’s leading mycology expert, working with Laurence Livermore Labs on using mushrooms as a method for pulling radiation out of the soil. On the other hand, you have Rocking in Ohio. (For shame, Mickey. For shame.).
Regardless of where your attention and affiliation lies, be it liberal, conservative, neo-con, libertarian or somewhere murky, we’re all feeling the squeeze. Tensions are high, and so are fears. Ultimately, I think we all want relief. After all, we’re only human, and we’re animals at that. We want to eat and sleep and love and play and in between rest in peacefulness.
Current economic, cultural, political and environmental circumstances make meeting those basic needs pretty challenging, if not sometimes impossible.
As insecurity increases in the populace, so does, I think, paranoia. Add to that a bureaucracy that is rarely transparent and a deterioration in reliable sources of news and truth and it creates a recipe for belief in conspiracy. I need to know the truth because it feels like my survival is dependent on it. But I can’t rely on you to tell me the truth because you have your own investment in your own survival and you may be getting your needs met with methods that go against what I need or believe. So I will find the truth out for myself, and then I can feel safe. Then I can survive.
I think this tendency towards belief in conspiracy is intensified in populations that feel a reason to not buy into perpetuated mainstream reality. People get the short end of the stick in myriad ways, whether it’s being dicked over because of economics, religion or gender. These days, one doesn’t have to disenfranchised to have a sneaking suspicion that the corporate machine probably doesn’t have one’s best interest at heart. It’s difficult to know where to turn and who to trust.
I’m not quite sure what has changed for me in the past few years, but while I used to entertain plausible conspiracy theories (JFK was an inside job, our government probably knew about 9-11 beforehand) now I’ve become downright grumpy about it all. I find myself awakening as if out of a dream, led astray by voices that whispered that the promised land was really in some side reality and wouldn’t I like to come that way? You can have some candy little girl.
Now I think back to countless
arguments conversations with my father over how government really operated, who was really in power. I remember his exasperation mixed with concern…my daughter is going off the deep end. Well, I’m proud to tell you Dad, that I’ve clambered back over the edge of the precipice, but it wasn’t all for naught. I bring back wisdom from the experience and a broader perspective.
Don’t worry, dear readers. I’m still a fruit and nut mix from California. I’m just less gullible and even more so, I’m a bit pissed as all hell.
I’m pissed because I see how the dissemination of false information and pseduo-science is hurting people. Hurting my friends. Bad info is scaring people and heightening anxiety. I cannot believe the perpetuators of total bullshit out there and just how many there are. Nowhere do I see this more than the countless articles circulating on FB about Fukushima and how WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE and we should evacuate the west coast immediately. Well gee, I guess myself and my family are fucked, because thanks to the tech bubble we couldn’t move if we wanted to. Guess we’ll just stay here and get tumors.
There’s a lot to be concerned about, and the ongoing Fukushima problem is one of them. However, there is such a pile of crap out there to sift through, that for folks prone to anxiety and sleepless nights, the amount of digging required to get to the truth can just be too much.
I want to encourage you all to do two things. One is to vet your articles. Find out just who is saying what, and why. The second is to be careful about what information you pass on. Don’t be part of a paranoid rumor mill. You’re smarter than that. Don’t let some fear-mongering vocal douche bag take you on their ride of terror.
Keep your seat. Even if you’ve got a razor blade going up your ass. I can do it, and so can you.
For more information on how to vet articles and to suss out who is trust worthy and who is not:
All photos from Sutro Heights Park.
Extra credit if you get the reference in my title.