‘It was created in a lab.” “There are dolphins in Venice.” “They (the shadowy cabal that runs the world) unleashed it so they can microchip and vaccinate us.”
“It’s a hoax.” “It’s being spread by 5G.” “It escaped during a ‘Reservoir Dogs’-style shootout in Wuhan, before a pangolin licked it and here we all are.”
Like everyone else, I’ve been napalmed with Covid-19 (mis)information from politicians, Twitter commentators and ‘expert friends’ who have fallen foul to questionable sources.
To be fair, we are living in absurd times, so you can’t blame people for cherry-picking ‘truths’ to make some kind of sense of it all.
If someone had told us a year ago that animals were taking the world back – not just with the coronavirus, but also via billions of desert locusts invading East Africa and the Persian Gulf like something out of the Old Testament – we would have fashioned them a tinfoil hat and told them to get a job.
Three months into 2020 and your mate is telling you that Bill Gates – who has taken a well-deserved rest from ‘eating babies’ – along with a cohort of illuminati members ‘will inoculate your child against your will, take away your paper money, then fry you with 5G’.
Meanwhile your neighbour just ‘heard from a doctor friend’ that the coronavirus is airborne and armageddon is imminent.
Thanks for the unsolicited misinformation.
We don’t have enough on our plates as it is. Unfortunately, opinions and hyperbole are running as rampant as the coronavirus itself these days.
It’s very difficult to keep a sound, but slightly angsty, anxiety ridden head.
A survey by the non-partisan US-based think-tank, the Pew Research Centre, found that half of Americans surveyed had been exposed to made-up news.
This can be innocuous, like the story of dolphins appearing in the clear blue waters of Venice and a group of elephants sauntering through a village in Yunnan, China, getting drunk off corn wine, before passing out in a tea garden. Unfortunately, they were lies – harmless but somewhat demoralising.
Driven by fear and lack of control, people looking for purpose and validity create a narrative that suits their ego and, most importantly, their world view.
Take for example Donald Trump, who said the following since the coronavirus outbreak started making headlines.
“We have it totally under control.” – January 22.
“We pretty much shut it down.” – January 31.
“A lot of people think it’s gone in April.” – February 10.
“Within a couple of days, it will be down to close to zero.” – February 25.
“They’re going to have vaccines relatively soon. They’re gonna have something that makes you better.” – March 2.
The only truth that he has confirmed here is that self-image trumps fact.
Iran’s supreme leader has a somewhat different take. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei alleged that the virus “is specifically built for Iran using the genetic data of Iranians, which they have obtained through different means”.
He refused American assistance, claiming that Covid-19 could be ‘manmade by the United States government’, echoing Chinese officials about the possible origin of the coronavirus, starting in a lab.
Its certainly a theory I could get into bed with and sounds no madder than any of the other hair-brained impossible to confirm or deny BS currently being distributed.
I, like most of my friends, don’t have an insider knowledge of whether or not Covid-19 is a bioweapon that went rogue or was made to go rogue.
I also didn’t own a pangolin/bat stall at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan in November/ December 2019.
Nor did I sell caged animals or perpetrate unsanitary animal husbandry, and can only presume neither did you.
Speaking with the wisdom of Gandalf on conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers, I suggest we ignore them, pat them on the head and say “there, there”.
None of us knows what the outcome of the virus will be or exactly how it came about. The only thing we can do is to try to maintain a semblance of normality. Spending too much time online, living and breathing the virtual coronavirus, is bad for our health.
Take a break. Wash your hands, then we can collectively think of a way to end the immoral global wildlife trade, not just out of humanity – which should have been ended well before this outbreak, but also for the health and safety of global citizens and let something good come of this.
In the meantime- we need to stick to the things we can control like the information we take in, and how much distance we keep from fake news.