The conspiracy theory virus

Marie Cahill Cox, one of my daughter’s high school friends from Our Lady of Mercy School in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, commented on the conspiracy theories that are currently flooding the Internet. With her permission, I am passing her comment along:

“But seriously, spreading conspiracy theories is not a harmless and victimless pastime, there are serious macro and micro consequences.

“On a micro level, imagine being the parent of one of the Sandy Hook children, and being told you are an actor, your child never existed, was never murdered.

“Imagine being in that pizza shop when the gunman barged in brandishing a weapon.

“I invite you to come to my hometown [Boston] and tell Amy Sweeney’s children, or Phil Rosenzweig’s two boys that their parents didn’t really die on those planes 19 years ago. What are you going to say? Their parents are lounging on a beach somewhere?

“What will you say to the families of all those additional people that died from Covid because conspiracy theories made it out to be fake?

“On a macro level, our democracy depends on an informed citizenry. Conspiracy theories are like a cancer or a virus, and the Internet makes them exponentially easier to spread. As with many viruses, sunlight is the best remedy. Each one of us needs to be the sunlight, disinfecting information before sending it on, WE are responsible if we are to have any hope of having a functioning democracy. If we don’t disinfect before passing things on, we are collaborators, super-spreaders in the demise of our society.

“This is a tenuous time for humanity. We need truth, science and compassion to move forward. Disinfect your hands people! Disinfect your information. Your country thanks you!”

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