If you’re familiar with the Lewis Carroll story and Disney classic, Alice in Wonderland, you’ll know that rabbit holes can send you on a pretty trippy ride. Unfortunately, the rabbit holes full of Covid misinformation that keep popping up on social media and the interwebs are neither fun nor exciting and I feel like I’m losing people I love as they continue sliding deeper and deeper down them.
I truly feel like I’m losing people I love to Covid conspiracy theories. They aren’t dying but they are changing. The misinformation they consume on a daily basis is scary and while they aren’t physically getting sick, I continue to watch helplessly as their minds get infected with the virus of disinformation perpetuated on social media.
In the case of Alice in Wonderland, she falls down a rabbit hole into a twisted alternate universe (some think it represents being on psychedelics) and I just can’t help but see the parallels between Covid misinformation rabbit holes and the one represented in Wonderland, albeit less fun, colourful and drug induced.
I grew up believing in science. I grew up trusting doctors. Most people in my life did as well. Most people I know fortunately still have faith in medical professionals but there are too many who have become all-consumed with Facebook groups and YouTube doctors who spin everything into a conspiracy theory. Everything including Covid, the pandemic, the vaccine, the government, 5G and Bill Gates.
Look, if you are hesitant to get the vaccine for medical reasons or cannot get the vaccine because of pre-existing health conditions, then cool; you do you. But if you pair your hesitancy with endless conspiracy theories then I’m sorry but you’ve lost me. Your rabbit hole is not where I want to hang out.
Did I ever dive a little deeper into some conspiracy theories in the past like 9/11 because it was interesting and I thought “Oh, wow! That’s a strange coincidence”? Sure! Have I listened to the spin some of these doctors (*cough* Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Podiatrists, etc.) have spewed and critically thought about what they were saying? Yes. But the difference is, I don’t just look at a meme and believe it’s the truth. When I watch some university professor with absolutely no background in virology or epidemiology spewing their opinion about the virus and the vaccine, I have strong enough critical thinking skills to look deeper into that person and see that they most usually have ulterior motives or connections.
You see, rabbit holes, especially social media rabbit holes, are funny things. The further you fall down one the further you continue to fall down many. Algorithms are wild things, comparable to digital psychedelics. You start on one path and then your algorithms know what you consume and continue showing you those things, until you’re high on misinformation and so deep you can’t reverse the misleading stories you’re consuming and you believe it’s all reality. Quick note: It is not real and drugs (misinformation algorithms) will fry your brain.
In all honesty, I’m writing this because it’s breaking my heart to lose people I love down these rabbit holes. I believe in vaccines and if the people I love simply were hesitant about getting it, then it would be a different story, but that’s not it. That’s not it at all. I am watching people I love, many unrelated, spew the same negative narratives as if they’re all reading from the same Covid Misinformation Textbook and it sucks. I truly believe if the internet did not exist, this whole pandemic would be over by now.
To the people I love whose algorithms are high on the drugs of misinformation, please know that I am reaching down the rabbit hole to offer you my hand to pull you out. I know you don’t want my help right now, I know you’re consumed with proving me wrong. I know you really want me to come down the rabbit hole with you and that you want to convince me of all the conspiracies that have become your reality. You’ve already tried to pull me down your rabbit holes so please know that I won’t be joining you but please also know that you are loved, you are missed and that it makes me sad every day watching you fall deeper down this never-ending hole.
To everyone out there who also feels like they are losing loved ones to the Covid rabbit hole, let’s continue to offer our hands out to those who believe conspiracies over doctors and memes over science. While it’s discouraging on most days, we must have faith that they will come back to us and we must continue to shine a light on them with love and not hate for they are only lost, not gone forever.
Even Alice woke up eventually.