Listen up, sheeple. While the pandemic has entered our lives, it has also entered the zeitgeist. So consider this a crash-course in conspiracy theorist-ese.
Humans have been searching for answers since forever. As religion continues to lose its sway in many countries, people are turning to alternate theories on life and the universe, particularly in times of uncertainty. The coronavirus pandemic eclipsed all hope of a normal year and as it has spread so too have conspiracy theories. From vaccines to mobile networks, no facet of the human experience is safe from suspicion. Further, those who weren’t previously inclined to believe such stories have become champions of them.
If you’re going to argue with a conspiracy theorist, you best learn how to speak their language (or at least understand it).
Coronavirus pandemic? More like plandemic according to those who believe that the COVID-19 virus and the resulting lockdown was a highly-organised operation planned by those in power. The term arose in May when Mikki Willis, known previously for posting heart-warming viral clips of her son online, posted the Plandemic documentary in which she discovers the apparent truth about COVID-19 by interviewing shunned scientist Dr Judy Mikovits.
Mikovits outlines her view that a group of global elites caused the pandemic in order to garner money and power, that COVID-19 originated in a laboratory, and that wearing a face mask can “activate” the virus.
As it follows, many have become sceptical of vaccines and masks. Social media platforms removed the documentary for spreading dangerous lies, though the moves were too little too late, and the video can still be found in darker corners of the web.
Sheeple is a word to describe people who are docile or easily influenced (and may even draw meaning from George Orwell’s dystopian novel Animal Farm, where the sheep are the ‘useful idiots’ of the new authoritarian regime, following the leaders and doing their bidding without thought). A portmanteau of sheep and people, it is a term reserved for the rest of the population who don’t believe a particular theory, those blindly following conventional wisdom and thought.
‘Follow the breadcrumbs’
To follow the breadcrumbs means to follow the clues in the QAnon conspiracy theory. In the story of Hansel and Gretel, the children are led deep into the forest and Hansel leaves a trail of breadcrumbs so the pair can find their way back home. America’s most popular conspiracy theory, QAnon, has hijacked the phrase: rather than leading you home, following the trail of breadcrumbs will take you down the rabbit holes online.
QAnon claims U.S. President Donald Trump is waging a covert war against a cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophile elites. It surfaced in late 2017 when a mysterious persona calling themselves “Q” began posting cryptic messages on internet forums. These messages are the “drops” or “crumbs” QAnon followers are referring to.
Голубое лобби or ‘Blue lobby’
The Blue Lobby is supposedly a secret cabal of LGBTQ people embedded deep within the Russia government, Russian orthodox church, and the entertainment industry with the sole intent of destroying traditional family values.
The group is believed to have taken control of the Communist Party in Soviet times and has only grown more powerful with time, even though Vladimir Putin’s government is renowned for its homophobia.
This term refers to the lookalikes of politicians. Vladimir Putin has been in power in Russia for the past 20 years with no end in sight. It is unsurprising then that some believe there is more to his seeming timelessness than meets the eye, arguing the Russian president has several doubles who take his place in public. Some believers claim the doppelgangers are used for security reasons, while others go so far as to claim that Putin has kicked the bucket.
Putin addressed the theory earlier this year when he mentioned that the Kremlin considered deploying doubles in the noughties when the country was struggling with terrorist threats, but assured citizens the plan never came to fruition. This only stoked the flame.
An Abegā is one who blames Shinzo Abe, former Prime Minister of Japan, for everything. When a popular Japanese actor was arrested last year on possession drug charges, Twitter was rife with rumours. Did Shinzo Abe orchestrate her jailing scandal to divert public attention away from his own corruption scandals? There was no shortage of Abegās who claimed so, including a former premier from the opposition.
Abegā theories cover lots of ground, from Abe conspiring with Kim Jong-un to conduct missile tests, to blaming Shinzo triggering earthquakes and typhoons to mask political blunders. Abegās went to town on him earlier this year, attacking the Prime Minister for deliberately limiting COVID tests to fudge infection numbers.
Now that he has stepped down, the question remains: will Abegās stick around?