Photo: nps.org.au

How COVID-19 conspiracy theorists are gaining credibility

You’ve handed over all of your liberties to someone else. And you’ve done it on your own free will.

It’s all we’ve been seeing for the last year-and-a-half now. COVID-19, this highly transmissive and rapidly evolving disease, has forced us to change the way we move, the way we think, the way we live. It has forced us into isolation as we continue to watch the number of bodies pile up all around the world, terrified that we or someone close to us might be its next victims.

It is the unpredictability of this disease that makes it so horrific. You don’t know who might have it, how badly it can strike you, how many people it might affect in a short amount of time and how quickly it can change your life from one of total freedom to one in which leaving your own home is considered an illegal act.

And it is because we fear what might happen, not just to us but also to those close to us, that we have chosen to follow all the newly-imposed rules, as strict and as unconstitutional as they may seem. This disease has created a global emergency and it is for times such as these that governments should be able to take extreme measures. Because sometimes people don’t put the common well-being on top of their own self-interests so someone needs to be there to keep everyone safe.

With all that in mind, people all over the world have been coming and going in and out of lockdowns and extreme restrictions for months now. Their only hope for returning to a normal reality in which they can casually take the train and meet up with their friends for a dinner or drinks in the city without the guilt of thinking they might actually be committing an act that could be putting the lives of thousands of people at risk being one: a vaccine.

Ever since the big COVID-19 breakout all around the world in early 2020, one of the most searched phrases on the Google search engine has been “COVID-19 vaccine”. People have been constantly keeping an eye on the development of the antidote for this nerve-wrecking virus, with reports pointing out that they would start becoming available to the public somewhere around the end of 2020 to the start of 2021.

Eventually that time came and people began getting their first jabs of the highly anticipated medicine to fight off this disease, yet not much has changed. Despite all the funding that has gone into the creation and development of an effective vaccine, not enough has yet been made available for the entire world’s population to grow an immunity, while at the same time not enough time has passed. As if that wasn’t enough, people continue to get sick and die every single day.

GROWING FRUSTRATION LEADS TO MISINFORMATION

While many countries all around the world still wait to get their hands on the precious vaccine, governments still maintain heavy lockdown laws on their citizens, in a desperate struggle to contain this deadly virus. Yet as time goes by and people are kept inside their homes like animals inside their cages, their frustration only grows greater and greater with each passing moment.

As if that wasn’t enough, now there are reports coming from from the United Kingdom of new mutant strains of COVID-19 that are more efficient against the vaccines and have a shorter transmission period, creating even more stress and anxiety.

With people stuck inside their homes reading one report after another, it’s only natural that they begin to question everything that’s going on. After all, this virus does seem rather “convenient”.

It has allowed governments to keep a tight leash on people who would previously go out and demonstrate in the streets. It has also allowed economies that had grown way out of hand to downsize without the outcry by employers who inevitable found themselves without a job. It has been easier to control people on public events, with a simple breakout of one or two cases causing a mini-lockdown and becoming a reason for major restrictions. It has also allowed governments to maintain a closer eye on people’s movements, with the pretense that someone may be a carrier. It has put a halt on all non-essential traveling, effectively making life a lot easier for public security workers. In all ways, it’s hard to avoid the fact that COVID-19 has been a blessing in disguise for all the world’s major governments.

That fact alone is giving all conspiracy theorists around the world more space to tread on. While previously they were mostly ignored, now they appear to be gaining ground as news of “mutant strains” begin to come out in the open.

What if the vaccine is effective but world leaders don’t want to give up this control they have on people? What if these “mutant strains” are just a way to keep us all in check once things return to normal and have us living with the fear and anxiety of COVID-19 for the rest of our lives? What if COVID-19 was something created by all of the world’s leaders?

These are all questions that the conspiracy theorists are more than happy to answer in their own way, providing their own “data” and concepts that to someone that has been under lockdown for over 3 months and is grasping at straws might even make sense!

WITHOUT HOPE, THERE IS ONLY DESPERATION

This situation has been long-drawn out. Whether it has been planned out this way by someone in order for it to become our new status quo, or if we were simply forced into it by circumstance, we can never know. All we can do is deal with it, day-by-day.

But news reporters also need to understand that what they’ve been giving to people for a long time now is the stone-cold reality, the way it is. And that reality seems bleak and hopeless. In times of hopelessness, people will turn wherever they can in order to find that hope. Even if it is in conspiracy theories that tell them that all of this is a hoax and we can all walk out of our houses freely without a care in the world.

Things can’t be so tragic for such an extended period of time. We need good news. We need hopeful news. We need to believe that soon the people we have trusted our liberties to will be able to ensure that we can retain those liberties without fear and with no need of further restrictions. That is why we trust them and that is why they’re in the position they’re in. Otherwise, if this situation carries on for too long and people continue to get desperate and frustrated, then they may attempt to get back those liberties that were taken away from them in another way. A not-so-peaceful way.

Let’s hope we don’t get to that point…

Media graduate, professional journalist and self-proclaimed Final Fantasy fanboy. Interests (and die-hard passions) include gaming and sports (mainly football).

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