I’m having a discussion with my little sister on Facebook right now about conspiracy theories. She’s a “believer” in pretty much everything — chemtrails, fluoride as brain control solution, grand conspiracies involving shadowy forces bent on… stuff. And things.
Right now she’s convinced FEMA is building camps in the United States, for the purpose of enslaving members of the population who dissent… who are on an ‘enemies list’.
It’s a theory — a junk-hoax — that started way back, during the presidency of George W. Bush. At least that’s where I first came across the videos of earnest sounding people talking over earnest looking documentaries showing bland buildings with fences, with a narrative cherry picked from Robert Ludlum novels — which were sent to me by a friend of mine who had, by then, smoked his way into a pot-induced psychosis.
Back then it was a group of mostly far left-leaning, basically mentally ill people who believed that, if GWB lost his reelection bid, the federal government would put aside the election results, and open nation wide FEMA “concentration camps” for anyone on the magic lists.
Now the FEMA camp hoax is being spread by the far-right, who believe the camps are being readied by the Obama government for anyone who complains about health care and gun control laws.
And, somewhere in there, is my sister. Who is not motivated by politics, but by her belief she “sees and feels things average people do not”. Then she kind of accused me of being part of the “Illuminati”.
It’s very difficult for me to have these discussions with her, because she does believe in these hoaxes. She needs to find reasons for her mental state, and believing there are people “Out There” who are controlling her thoughts, makes more sense to her than believing her thoughts lack control because of a mental illness.
She does recognize her diagnosis. She refers to me as her ‘bipolar mentor’, but she has actually been diagnosed with ‘schizoaffective disorder’. She was, and might still be, seeing a psychiatrist. But she doesn’t take medications, she’s convinced having side effects from the them means she’s allergic to them.
The reason it’s difficult for me to have these conversations with her, is it feels like I’m tearing at a fabric she’s wrapped herself in — her ‘safe-place cocoon’. But it’s so hard to watch her — an incredibly intelligent and creative woman — get so lost in an endless maze of other people’s lunacy.
This kind of endless loop of crazy my sister is caught in — all of these hoaxes are so old, and only kept alive by people discovering six-year old YouTube videos for the first time, all over again — can easily be as dangerous as the anti-vaccine people who are bringing back measles, mumps and probably polio.
And just as sickening.
Update: this morning she deleted all of my comments, and added me to her ‘conspiracy theory’ group on Facebook.
Speaking of crazy… my wife and I took our two sons on a two-hour ride through the mountains in Quebec, where I spent most of my early summers.
Our kids, three and seven-years old, lasted nearly 1.5-hours before losing their minds to boredom. But being able to stop and take photos of places I haven’t been in two decades — places with so many memories attached to them, was important for me. And worth having the kids freaking out over whose blankie was whose.
Plus, it’s just a beautiful part of the country…