Conspiracy theories used to be just for kids. We gobbled them up like bowls of Fruit Loops at the breakfast table. The cow jumped over the moon? Indubitably, as the Three Stooges used to say, followed by knuck, knuck, knuck.
My mother told me it was so, and I believed. Proof was not necessary.
Then my father would chime in, “And the dish ran away with the spoon.” I had yet to observe crockery on the lam, but I was young then. Besides, I wasn’t watching the dishes all the time. It didn’t occur to me to doubt my daddy.
Every time we drove by a farm, I would scan the skies for airborne bovines. I never saw one, but I figured that they would do their levitating at night, after the moon came out. Like, duh, everybody knew that.
It took me a while to appreciate that grownups lied. That was what we kids did. We lied about doing our homework or about where we’d been when we were supposed to be home doing our homework.
The Big Lie, of course, was Santa Claus, followed closely by the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Great Pumpkin. In my parents’ defense, their lies were relatively benign.
Times sure have changed.
My four older brothers broke the news to me when I was in kindergarten: there ain’t no Santa Claus, or Rudolph, not even the odd Elf with pointy shoes. I didn’t believe them at first. Where did my Christmas presents come from? And what about the Easter eggs hidden all through the house?
They looked at me like I was a blooming idiot and said, “Take a guess, dipstick.” There were two prime suspects. So, on Easter eve I stayed awake and crept from my bedroom to the second-floor landing and waited. Before long, I heard mom and dad scurrying about the living room, laughing, and saying, “How about putting one under the rocking chair or, better yet, behind the curtains.”
“He’ll never find that one,” my dad said. Thanks for the vote of confidence!
Like the breakfast cereal Kix, wild conspiracy theories are not just for kids anymore. In fact, alleged grownups have cornered the market. They can listen to the most outrageous lies and believe.
Like clueless, gullible juveniles, they don’t do their homework. They simply swallow the nonsense whole, hook, line and sinker. It is so much easier to do that. My side right or wrong!
A prime example is the new principal owner of Twitter. One of his first actions in his powerful new role was to retweet an outrageous lie from a notorious, right-wing conspiracy website about the recent assault on 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
And like children, many of this man-child’s followers believed.
David Holahan is a freelance writer from East Haddam.