Conspiracy theories have never been so famous until the boom of the internet. With the populous community of the internet, came the “illusion of understanding” that results in conspiracy theories. This illusion of understanding refers to how people overestimate their understanding and expertise of a subject. And sometimes this understanding is nothing but a beautiful story that conforms to our beliefs.
The 5G conspiracies are many. Some of these theories are formulated around cancer, birds dying, sudden deaths and now, coronavirus. At the beginning of 2020, for three to four consecutive months, headlines read “5G spreads the COVID 19”. When china rolled out with 5G, it happened to coincide with the time coronavirus broke out as well. It did not help that it was spreading globally and so was the number of 5G towers being implemented globally. Such a coincidence to many. Or was it?
But ofcourse, not everything is causation. The two rolled out at the same time. This is only a mere correlation. Malaysia also saw spurge of 5G conspiracy theories when unifi Malaysia rolled out their pre 5G TTD wireless technology. TM unifi is ahead of their internet game in Malaysia. 5G was necessary for technology advancement. While governments and internet companies such as Unifi understand the technological impact of 5G, it takes a little conviving for people to get on board.
In the UK, government officials ordered Verizon and Vodafone to intervene in the conspiracy theories. It went to the point people started burning 5G towers and attacked people in the development of these towers. We saw at least 50 cell towers being attacked in the UK as a result of the 5G conspiracy news. These incidents made it to international new platforms. And ironically, we read the online news using the same wireless broadband unifi that is similar to 5G technology.
One of the more bizarre theories of 2020 was that 5G and coronavirus are linked. In other words, people truly believed that 5G caused the pandemic, costing thousands of lives. When the pandemic came along people were still in denial. A mask was unheard of. No one wants to believe that a virus could keep them from all the parties and the fun of life.
The pandemic took away a huge part of our life and it was only natural that the brain seeks to fill in the gaps in their understanding of how a small virus took over the entire world. Whether the information was accurate or not, our brain likes to simplify things. Even if it is irrational. An event as grave and huge as a pandemic must have an event itself that caused it. It was impossible to wrap our heads around how a virus just locked us in our home. Certainly did not help that we were in a lockdown with millions of conspiracy theories. Alternate theories were used to keep ourselves sane and maybe it just helped us connect to one another.
Coming to the point of connection, the internet allowed us to connect with like-minded people. It is full of self-reinforcing groups who support one’s bias and propagated ideas. People were good at expressing themselves in ways that create connection and alleviates loneliness. And 2020 was one of the loneliest years most of us experienced. People underestimate how much they would connect to and believe what that is on the internet.
Plus it also does not help that our search engine algorithm does not exactly support rationality. It is not based on giving us factual content. The more popular a post is, or the more media talked about, the more it is pushed towards us. Plenty of media outlets and influencers talked about the 5G conspiracy theory.
While we expected flimsy media outlets to amplify the 5G coronavirus theory, we did not expect influential people to intensify the spread. Wiz Khalifa tweeted during this same time period of 5G “Corona? 5G? Or both?”. Certainly did not help that Wiiz khalifa has more than 2 million followers. While most mocked, a certain percentage still believed in it. Other TV personalities and celebrities also tweeted the connection between 5G and Coronavirus such as Actor John Cusack, M.I.A, and Keri Hilson.
The 5G coronavirus theory is hardly surprising considering some even believe the moon itself is a conspiracy theory. Other conspiracy theories related to technology also include the infamous cancerous 2G technology in the late 90s. This conspiracy theory was a base for a lot of theories related to any wireless technology. Some coin the reasoning behind the conspiracy to be the fear of power lines, and radiophobia.
The conspiracy theories linked to wireless technology have always been popular, given the fact it is invisible and requires a bit of scientific understanding. Not everyone wants to believe in science, the same way they don’t want to believe that the earth is round. Moreover, the conspiracy theories related to 5G have been the most popular over the years. While a lot of us expected that with digital literacy these theories are bound to die down. However, that was not the case. The debate of 5G conspiracies still continues.
It will take a lot of awareness and education to calm down the conspiracy theories. But ofcourse, even with campaigns, launches, and everything, not all conspiracies go away. Sometimes they just lurk behind silently until people find another event that matches the magnitude of the conspiracy theory. Much like the way people related coronavirus pandemic with 5G towers.
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