Article & Photo By: Emmanuel Vallarta
Social media has played a large role in the popularization of conspiracy theories. From YouTubers talking about the many “Mandela Effects” seen around the world, or Twitter threads bent on convincing readers that Justin Bieber sold his soul to the devil to become the successful artist he is, we’ve all seen them in some form or another. While some of these conspiracies can be humorous, many are darker theories that hold no factual ground and can radicalize someone into believing them. These theories can be harmful to society and especially more vulnerable and gullible individuals.
Pizzagate is an infamous theory that many far-right members use to demonize Democratic politicians. This theory states that many people in power including politicians (specifically Hilary Clinton and others around her), are involved in a child-trafficking conspiracy connected to a pizzeria restaurant chain. It grew in popularity during the 2016, presidential election after Hilary Clinton’s emails were leaked. This has led to a plethora of misinformation being spread and people on the far-right being radicalized into believing this and taking matters into their own hands. According to the National Public Radio, Edgar Madison Welch, a North Carolina resident, went to a pizzeria in Washington D.C. to “investigate” pizzagate himself. He shot an AR-15 in an attempt to investigate a locked closer. No injuries were reported. This is the type of radicalization that is brought upon by conspiracy theories like pizzagate and others like it that need to be avoided. .
QAnon, a similar conspiracy theory, is built off of the foundations of Pizzagate. QAnon believers think that the world is run by devil-worshipping pedophiles who want to overthrow President Trump. They also believe that he is the only person who can stop them. Many believe these theories and consider them to be factual and not what they really are, conspiracy theories. Many QAnoners were involved in the attack on the U.S. Capitol that happened on January 6, 2021. As bizarre as these theories are for the majority of people, some find them believable, to the point that people think they need to attack a government building to stop, “satanic pedophiles,” from overthrowing their lord and savior, President Trump. These theories, specifically ones that radicalize people, are convincing individuals to hurt others because the “pedophiles” are running the world are harmful to society. Yes, we should always question authority, which involves critical thinking and other great skills, but we shouldn’t believe everything we read on the internet, especially things that could harm others.