We have all found ourselves slipping into the vortex; the never ending stream of video after video where you end up emerging twelve hours later from your YouTube binge, amazed at how you got from easy breakfast recipes to fidget spinners with either flames or knives attached to them. Personally I enjoy this odyssey; I enjoy discovering a new channel to subscribe to and be obsessed with, or a new content theme to be infatuated with. Previously I have mentioned my experience of watching endless Bullet Journal videos and revision videos (remember, I don’t even study anymore…), and now I have discovered my latest love; conspiracy theories.
Am I now one of those ‘wingnuts’ who thinks that the sky is falling or that the apocalypse is happening by the end of 2017? No, not quite, but one thing that I thought would never happen from my experience of watching such videos is that I am now willing to open up my mind to entertain some rather interesting concepts. Usually, these are taken with a pinch of salt until one such video either really freaks me out or resonates with ideals that I hold to be true in some way. I come to these videos when I am tired, expecting entertainment and leave with a deeper capacity to question the world around me, tired and interested. An added bonus for me, as a teacher, is that I now have an overabundance of interesting concepts to discuss with my students and set as discursive essays.
I believe the first conspiracy theory video that I watched was about Michael Jackson’s death, but since then I have ventured into the realm of aliens, Georgetown, MK-Ultra, The Bermuda Triangle, the existence of Mermaids and The Men in Black. Each one starts with me clicking the video due to my disbelief, almost daring the content creator to make me believe it, ready to challenge and jeer, but mostly, I find well-researched content packed with evidence and a lot of unanswerable questions that are not really that far out of the realms of possibility, much to my annoyance. This is the appeal to me, and others that are interested in conspiracy theories; the fact that these ideas are tangible, not ‘far out’. That they encourage us to look at the world with a critical eye and that they teach us to be inquisitive learners, eager to discover more layers to the intrinsic pattern of our Universe. We like to feel like our minds have been ‘blown’ and we love to share that with others.
One aspect of conspiracy theorists on YouTube that I admire it their passion and drive, against all odds. Within the last couple of months, YouTube has been de-monetising videos by content creators who explore these kind of subjects because they deem the content ‘too mature’ or are worried that they will ‘trigger’ others, or as they neatly put it, the videos are not ‘advertiser –friendly’. YouTube has so much content on it that has the potential to ‘trigger’ people more than a conspiracy theory video or videos that suppose and ponder about missing people or unexplained mysteries. Plenty of YouTubers curse, hate on each other and deliberately create content to shock people (ever watched an Onision video?) so why are contributors that are trying to educate us, and keep us ‘woke’ ending up being penalized for their efforts?
One YouTuber that I watch spends hours researching for videos which are often, may I add, highly requested from their fans. If fans are into this type of video and showing demand, and YouTubers are supplying this demand, surely that is a reason to back these canny business people who are spotting trends and pleasing audiences. Instead of relying on YouTube, their very platform for uploading content, to pay them for their time, sadly creators are setting up other means of income, such as Patreon accounts to make their efforts viable financially. The videos that I like to watch are well-researched, engaging and look at the world with a critical eye. And maybe to advertisers who do not want consumers to be critical, the very nature of a conspiracy theory video is particularly unpalatable or threatening.
Regardless of the ‘drama’ surrounding the genre, if you have never ventured into the fascinating world of conspiracy theories, I implore you to do so. This is not a genre which is threatening or macabre. It is a category of content which can be highly entertaining and no more offensive than what a lot of us already suppose about in our heads, or drunkenly philosophise about when we are with friends around a dinner table. What you will find may shock you, make you laugh and sometimes, surprise you with how possible the impossible can seem.
If you are interested, here is my favourite conspiracy theorist: