I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fake news and conspiracy theories, particularly the flat Earthers.
Assertion: The Earth is flat.
My answer: Okay but why do we care?
What’s the point? Let’s say you’re right and the Earth is flat. Then what?
Why do you need me to believe that the Earth is flat?
What do we do next? Do I get sworn in? Do I get a little badge? If so, does it have rainbows on it because I like rainbows?
I do have more questions, since we’re talking about it. So the Earth is flat, is the Moon flat too? How about the Sun? How about Mars, is Mars also flat?
Let’s do this! We’re doing it! Let’s talk about flat Mars!
Okay, yeah, now that I believe the Earth is flat I am allowed to know that the Sun and Moon are spheres, as is Mars, but the Earth is flat. We’re special that way.
I’m confused though. I’m a baby in this club and I’m still learning. If the Earth is flat, why are there seasons? Why couldn’t I see the edge whenever I hiked up a mountain or flew in a plane? What’s going on during lunar and solar eclipses?
Gosh, I do ask a lot of questions, don’t I?
I just need to remember that the enemy here is the big lie that the Earth is a sphere. I need to focus my attention on what is important, which is that the Earth is flat, and people need to know the truth.
This is why everyone loves pizza so much, because whenever they see a pizza they are reminded of the soul-deep truth that all good things are flat and round.
Ugh, I keep getting distracted when what I really need to be thinking about is that the Earth is flat. People who think they’re so, so smart keep lying and trying to make us think the Earth is a sphere.
But wait, why would they do that? Why is it so important to them to make me think the Earth is a sphere when now I know that it’s flat?
I’m not very good at this, but let me try...
They’re... making money off it!
And that’s how they retain all the wealth and power, because as long as I believe the Earth is a sphere then it’s like a magic spell.
Unfortunately, I guess I have failed at holding on to the belief that the Earth is flat. The image of a big, round, spherical Earth is stuck in my mind and nothing seems to be able to shake it loose.
Nothing seems to have changed though?
Earlier today, I thought the Earth was a sphere, and then I read a bunch of articles that someone showed me, and I understood that it was really flat the whole time. But then I started asking too many questions and getting myself all confused, and now I think it’s round again. I don’t know what to think!
But in the meantime... Nothing seems to have changed. I still live in the same place, I’m still married to the same person, I still have the same job. It turns out that whether I believed something or not didn’t really make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
How can something feel so important and mean so little?
It’s actually a little depressing. Now that I can’t really remember why it made so much sense to me that the Earth was flat, there isn’t anything all that exciting going on. It turns out that my regular spherical-Earth life is a little more dull and boring than before.
I wonder what else I could do with all that energy?
I could research something else. Maybe I could put together my family tree and talk to some of my relatives about genealogy and family history. Maybe I could join in a citizen science project. Maybe I could memorize an epic poem. Or write one.
What did I do with all my time before I started reading about how the Earth is flat? I can’t hardly remember. That would be like asking what I did before there was social media, or before smartphones, or before the internet.
Actually wait, I do remember that. We used to go to Blockbuster and spend an hour picking out a video tape to bring home, only to realize that it was already checked out and then have to pick something else. It’s good to have all that free time.
Oh, and we used to talk on the phone a lot. I had a bunch of friends I would talk to on the phone for an hour or more. Sometimes we would walk around town together, or hang out at each other’s apartments and sit on the floor and play cards and board games.
I used to sit on the couch and knit and crochet and do cross-stitch while my roommates watched movies.
It’s not like we never talked about conspiracy theories. I remember once we were going on a road trip, and we stopped by our friend’s place to pick him up, and his roommate’s stoner girlfriend started telling us that cigarettes are so addictive because the tobacco companies put trace amounts of chocolate in them. Okay, thanks for telling me! Someone else told me that Carmex is addictive and once you start using it, your lips adapt to it and you can’t stop. Oh, and blue M&M’s cause cancer.
That’s what’s missing. Now that I’ve stopped believing the Earth is flat, I don’t have any interesting stories to share. Story is what’s missing. It seems like none of my friends or family want to talk to me anymore because they weren’t in the mood to hear about the Earth being flat. Who am I going to talk to now? Who’s going to tell me stories now?
I sure wish I had something interesting to talk about, and someone to talk about it with.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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