If you’ll indulge me for one moment, I have a conspiracy theory I’d like to share with you: Alex Jones knows his banning on social media platforms is the best thing that could have happened to him. Oh sure, when the camera turns on he’ll play the role of the aggrieved truth seeker, but he knows that any attention is good attention, and it’s not as if he didn’t crawl his way from obscurity once. No, this has probably been a very good week for a man who had to sell out to stay relevant in a world leaving him behind. But I come not to praise Alex Jones nor bury him. Let him and his gaggle of conspiracy theorist buddies play dumb and pretend what’s happening to them has something to do with the First Amendment; again, any publicity is good publicity, even if it means getting dunked on by the Twitter masses.
But Alex Jones new turn in the spotlight has had me thinking about something that has long bothered me: why is there no left-wing equivalent to Jones?
True, there are plenty of celebrity talkers on the left, with a few who even play characters. They fight their version of the good fight, playing their part as talking heads, saying whatever is needed to placate their base while also hoping that nothing too scandalous is dug up from their past. They serve their function as part of the political theater, but none of them quite scratch the itch the way that Alex Jones does for his fans.
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I don’t think this is a matter of people on the left being smarter or more moral. It was literally only two months ago that people, angry about what was going on with family separation, started passing around a photo of a child in a cage claiming it was part of what ICE had been up to. Many shared this photo in good faith, only to discover that the photo was actually from an anti-family separation protest that happened in Dallas.
Yes, that particular mistake was pretty harmless, but it goes to show that in this age of instant information and disinformation, everyone wants to believe the worst. Which makes it all the more interesting that no one has come along to try and capitalize on this fact. Humans, by and large, are pretty not great, and I have a hard time believing there isn’t a single person out there driven by greed that doesn’t want to fill this particular niche in the media landscape.
It’s not as if it’s hard to come up with conspiracies about the right. They give you so much to work with because they don’t care if you hate them. Don’t believe me? Fine, try this on for size: The Postal Service’s financial issues are part of a long con by Conservatives to make socialism look bad while also ruining a potential hirer of people of color. Now imagine me saying that with a cork board behind me featuring photos of famous conservatives and a web of string. Whether or not that’s the truth wouldn’t matter; with some slick editing, it’s a theory simple enough to seem plausible.
Conspiracies are all about making the people who believe in them feel like they are in on a secret no one else knows while also demonizing the people that they hate. And in 2018, there’s a lot of hate to go around on both sides. But maybe the reason we’ve never gotten a blue Alex Jones is that the internet already has too many conspiracies as it is. Come to find out, chan culture is really good at pumping out ideas that people will readily share without thinking about them too critically. And if you’re interested in chaos instead of trying to beat the algorithms that drive so many social networks, why make yourself a figurehead of a conspiracy movement? Maybe the truth is that the days of Alex Jones-type characters is coming to a close, whether Facebook shuts the door on them or not.