View From The Voice: Tragedies leave no room for conspiracies

~The Voice, Staff Writer

     Within 24 hours of the shooting in Las Vegas, people were pouring into blood banks and food banks to help out, while a GoFundMe page for the victims’ medical care received over $1 million in donations in half that time. However, along with the outpouring of love, support and solidarity, came the naysayers and conspiracy theorists, who flooded social media with supposed evidence of numerous wild theories about the shooting. This isn’t new in the least, but we at The Voice feel that all forms of social media and their users have a responsibility not to propagate such things when the wounds of tragedy are still so fresh. Or, preferably, ever.

     Gossip in the wake of disasters has become even easier to spread in the age of social media, which makes real reporting of crucial updates to the public nearly impossible. People often don’t have the wherewithal to go digging through all the videos, live streams, vlogs and other posts to figure out which have come from reputable sites and which are posted by people just looking for likes. This shooting in Vegas is a perfect and very recent example of that. Currently, major news outlets are in contact with the FBI and local investigators receiving information directly from those doing their job, which is to find the motive behind the shooting and how the gunman was able to successfully carry out this attack. Official reports and video from the attack both show that there was one gunman.

     However, internet conspiracy theorists have jumped in to spread the ideas that the shooting was, among other things: committed by the “deep state” as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution; that there were multiple shooters in the hotel performing crossfire; that the shooter was a gambling addict attempting to scare people away from Vegas. ISIS even initially claimed the attack as one of their own until the identity of the shooter was revealed, at which point ISIS ceased to release anything else on social media. These conspiracy theories do two major things. First, they create false information that might muddy the investigation into what really happened. People may call in useless tips or accost investigators who are trying to do their jobs. And second, this sort of behavior makes mountains out of mole hills and distracts from the reality of such horrible acts. This shooting was committed by someone with no clear motive, and creating a false one just to answer the question or to create click bait might hide a more disturbing trend in the country. We at The Voice believe this can’t be allowed to happen.

      While everyone has the right to have an opinion on something, using tragedies and terrorist attacks to further one’s own agenda or sensationalize in the media is far from having a personal opinion. These conspiracy theories need to be relegated to basement meetings of internet junkies who search images and video clips in order to prove that the government is corrupt or that aliens have influenced humanity somehow. This is part of a larger trend of outright ignoring the presentation of factual evidence, and it has been going on for far too long. 9/11 conspiracy theorists still insist that the World Trade Center was a controlled demolition by the government, and that the Pentagon was blown up from the ground since a jetliner supposedly could not crash into it. Hurricane Katrina was actually a result of government weather manipulation in an attempt to destroy New Orleans and to test weather controlling technology. Sandy Hook was either a hoax entirely or was orchestrated by the government in order to promote gun control laws. This thinking is dangerous, and cannot be allowed to become mainstream.

      Conspiracy theorists endanger the spread of truth and factual information in the media. We at The Voice support freedom of speech and freedom of thought, but the public at large, as well as major news organizations, must become discerning and ready to debunk conspiracy theories based around tragedies the moment they arise. Otherwise, these horrible events will continue to see less and less outcry and more interest in what the latest and juiciest theory will be. Even worse, these theories could lead to repeats of terrible events which might be within human control, such as the Holocaust or Sandy Hook, all because people are more willing to acknowledge wild theories as opposed to hard facts and evidence.

     When it comes to preventing tragedies in the future and reporting on them, we at The Voice hope that all forms of media will be geared more towards the truth and less towards those coveted likes or follows. Life is more than just views on a screen.

~The Voice